Walking past the wrestling room after school, it is easy to see that between the physical and mental training wrestling coach Brad Anderson puts his team through, it is no wonder that his boys are successful.
“Our record (11-7) does not indicate just how tough we are. We wrestle an really tough schedule and we challenge our guys constantly. From top to bottom every guy works very hard and have a specific role on the team. They are the grittiest guys in Forest Hills”, said Anderson.
According to seniors Matt Mills and Marqui Gross, currently the team’s biggest rivals are Grandville, Lowell, and Rockford. They are the team’s biggest competition partly because Lowell and Rockford are in close proximity and Grandville because they are a school that the wrestling team has yet to beat this year.
“Grandville is our biggest competition. They are the one team on our way to states who we have not beaten this year. I think with a full line up we can beat them when regionals role around,” said Mills.
What goes into prepping for each tournament though? Two hour practice that have drills that seem to never end. Anderson pushes these boys to be their best, he’ll see them giving their one-hundred percent and pushes them further.
“They are the hardest working kids in FHC athletics in my opinion. They literally fight in hand to hand combat for two hours a day, five days a week. Find another sport where you get thrown to your back, choked-out or tackled repeatedly while the entire crowd is watching just you and your opponent and I’ll eat my coaching clipboard,” said Anderson.
Anderson pushes these boys because he knows what happens out on the mats during tournaments. 16 years of experience to be exact, Anderson has also been coaching for 11 years and doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon.
“As long as Forest Hills Central will allow me the privilege,” he said in regards to how many years he plans on coaching for.
Practice begins with stretching and conditioning. The rest consists of 4-5 minute drills back to back for about a half hour at a time. The athletes typically practice with other wrestlers of the same weight class that they would normally compete in. During “breaks,” they jog, run, and sprint around the wrestling room, only pausing to throw a few burpees in.
“I think the most difficult aspect of wrestling is the training and practices. They are very long and difficult. Coaches push you to your breaking point and try to tire you out as much as they can,” said Mills.
Things can go wrong even during practice in the blink of an eye. Injuries are a setback for many teams. The coaches and wrestlers don’t let it stop them, though. Even the wounded soldier is expected to something physical during practice.
“We’ve had several injuries, but hopefully they will all be back on the mat for the post-season push, MHSAA tournament time,” Anderson said.
Wrestling is different from other sports; not only is it physically demanding, it is mentally demanding as well. Anderson teaches the boys that winning isn’t everything – you need character too.
“If you don’t have character, wins don’t matter,” Anderson said. “The journey to victory is as important if not more important than victory itself. Learning about discipline, dedication, delaying self gratification and hard work is important for young men. In our program they get a healthy dose of that every day. That is an important lesson for every young person.”