JM Wrestling Eyes A Bright Future
MOUNDSVILLE – Quality.
It is something that makes everyday life go smoothly, and it is also something that helps build winning teams in the world of sports.
Quality is something that is not only needed in athletes, but also in coaches, in administrators and also facilities.
Just four years ago when Ted Zervos took the reins of the John Marshall wrestling program, he had a vision to return the Monarchs to the top.
What he wanted most was for the rich tradition and success of the John Marshall mat team to resurface, and to do that quality was something that was going to have to play a big part in things.
Four years later, Zervos’ visions are becoming reality and a lot of that has to do with the quality of everything he has put his hands into.
”Tradition and success were two of the biggest things I wanted bring back to this program,” Zervos said Saturday while watching his team compete in its own Greg’s Market John Marshall Invitational. ”There are a lot of things a kid can get out of wrestling.
”I think the three biggest qualities are hard work, dedication and self satisfaction. The bottom line is that you have to have the desire to compete as an individual, but also win as a team.”
The initial part of Zervos’ plan to get things back on track was constructing a practice facility that could turn into the cornerstone of the entire effort. With the help of the community, the school and the Marshall County Board of Education that dream is now a reality.
Four years ago Zervos spearheaded an effort to build such a facility. It opened three years ago, but did not have running water. Last year everything was in place with the exception of a few minor details that needed to be tied up.
However, the building, which is located behind John Marshall High School in between the softball field and tennis courts, is now complete and being utilized to its full capacity.
”I really felt we needed our own facility to practice in,” Zervos said. ”And with the help of community fundraisers and the support of the county and the school administration, we developed a building that we are very proud of.
”It is a place where this team can practice and prepare.”
While Zervos has done an outstanding job leading the program as the head coach, there is always room for improvement. Any good coach will tell you one of the key ingredients for success is quality assistants.
So, in need of such people, Zervos enlisted the services of a few men that know more than their share about the past success and tradition of John Marshall wresting.
Former coaching greats Ed Dugas, Bill Hinegardner and Ed West all came on as assistants, joining Bob Wilson and the Simmons brothers, Paul and Roger.
”Honestly, I thought to myself, ‘if you really want to bring back tradition, bring back the men who were the biggest part of the tradition,’ ” Zervos said. ”Ed, Bill and Ed are men with an awful lot of experience that know how to win. They are in the practice room with us every day and usually have a group of kids each are working with at any given time.
”These men have made huge contributions to the program in the past and they are doing it again in helping to prepare these kids’ skills.
”Having all three of them in the practice room on a daily basis and having them all back on the staff has meant so much. You throw in all their experience, then add in the energy and youthful approach that Coach Wilson brings and then all the holes that the Simmons brothers fill in for us and it is complete.”
The final piece of the puzzle was bring back a tournament that had been part of the school’s tradition for a very long time, the John Marshall Wrestling Invitational, which was held for the third consecutive year yesterday at the Moundsville Field House.
”It needed to be brought back,” Zervos said with a smile. ”These former coaches did great things with this tournament and it was held every year. Thanks to Greg’s Market, and a whole lot of people who have helped finance and support it, we are back.”
While everything now seems to be in place for John Marshall to return to the forefront of wrestling in both the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference and the state of West Virginia, there is still one problem.
”Our numbers are starting to grow some, but that is still our biggest concern,” Zervos continued. ”It is kind of disheartening, but numbers seem to be down in all sports, not just wrestling.
”Right now we have some very well-coached middle school and youth programs in Marshall County, but we are still looking to increase the numbers.
”We want to develop good wrestlers early so that they are ready to compete and be a part of things when they arrive at the high-school level. Wrestling is a sport unlike any other in that there is just so much self-sacrifice.
”But we are fortunate enough to have hard-working kids in the wrestling room that are pushing each other to get better each and every day.
”This sport is something that I feel really carries over into life more than any other sport you can compete in. There is a quote that I really like that is often heard around the wrestling mat and it goes, ”If you can complete a wrestling season, everything else in life will be easy.”
While things may not have been easy for Dugas and the John Marshall wrestling program, they are coming along and there are plenty of people who have had a big hand in all of that.
West, who is also the school’s very successful head softball coach and has taken the Monarchs to two consecutive W.Va state tournaments, did not hesitate when asked for help by his friend.
”More or less Ted came to me, told me there was a bid up for an assistant wrestling coach and asked me if I would bid on it and help him,” West said with a smile. ”We have been friends for a very long time and he was my assistant coach for many years.
”So I figured why not? I bid on it, got it and now I am helping out. We had many good years in my time as the wrestling coach (1983-2007), and Ted is trying to bring some of that back.
”The new wrestling facility is something that Ted pretty much took on by himself and it is second to none. It is just an absolutely amazing place. For the longest time when I coached we split the high school gym with the basketball team, before sharing the football locker room in the late 1980s.
”There are a lot of good things being done here and strides taken in the right direction, and that is because of Ted. He has had some solid teams here the last few years, just not individual standouts.
”And there are a lot of new faces and younger kids this year, but they are quality kids. Not a bunch of kids, but good kids. In order to get back to the upper echelon it has to all start at the foundation, the youth and junior high programs, and I know there are some good kids who are working their way through.”