Friday Focus: Jody Strittmatter, Young Guns

Jody Strittmatter had a success career as a wrestler and now as the coach of the Young Guns Wrestling Club he has established his club as one of the most premier clubs in the country. So we caught up with Strittmatter to see what types of coaching philosophies and practices he lives by that has cemented his club as one of the best.

RH: Since we are currently in-season and that all your wrestlers have practice with their respective teams, what is your club schedule like?

The guys will go to their own practice then they will come to Young Guns. But it depends on the day of the week. Mondays are probably our biggest week. But it depends on what they have if they have a hard tournament on Friday and Saturday then on Sunday morning maybe they won’t come. But most of the time you’ll see them on Sunday morning after they competed at Ironman or Powerade or something. But for the most part on Mondays it’s usually packed. In every location it’s different. If the kids have matches then it determines what night they come but they still come during the season.

RH: Does the practice regime change from when the guys are in-season and when they aren’t?

Every practice I guess is a little bit different. It depends on what our focus is. Sometimes we will put a focus on getting off the bottom, or riding top or even as specific as getting ready for Super 32 and making sure the kids are in shape. But they also get a different view whether it’s John or me or my brother Joey. But getting into January or February we will cut back on the live because we don’t want to get anybody hurt. That’s the last thing we want to do is get somebody hurt at a club practice; that would be really bad. But at the same time we are doing everything we can to help these kids get ready.

RH: What’s the overall philosophy of Young Guns?

Number one is that when you’re on the mat you have to be good at all three positions. So every week we don’t just go on our feet or bottom or top. We have practices every week where one of us is on the mat, one of us is on the feet and that’s all year round that we do that. We don’t emphasize one position more than the other. That’s something that John and I talk about all the time is to be good in all three positions. But then there’s always being offensive-minded and trying to score from every opportunity that you can. And last it’s just having a great mindset no matter if you’re cutting weight or banged up. You have to be ready to take on the challenge.

RH: Do you think your coaching philosophies and the things you teach are influenced by your own wrestling career?

I think it does influence how I coach. As a wrestler I loved mat wrestling and I think my experiences really help the kids. If you take a look at our best wrestlers you see that everyone is a little bit different and that’s what’s amazing about wrestling is that a guy like AJ Schopp can have great tilts and (Jason) Nolf can ride legs and do different stuff on top. And everyone is different, but I love mat wrestling and I love teaching it. I don’t know if that rubs off or not but it’s something that I’m passionate about and I hope it is contagious to the kids.

RH: How did you establish Young Guns as such a dominant and nationally known club?

I guess I still don’t look at (the club) that way. Everyday there is challenges whether you’re trying to help a kid out that’s having a tough time off the mat or something. So situations like that definitely keep you grounded. So I guess I still don’t see us as this dominant club. Because people see a kid doing well on the mat, but have no idea that he’s struggling with something behind the scenes whether it’s school or cutting weight. But that’s why we stress having a good time with the sport and trying to make it as enjoyable as you can no matter what you have going on.

RH: With having so many college prospects at your club who have so many Division I schools calling them, how involved do you get in the recruiting process with them?

JS: We get asked that question a lot. And to be honest we stay out of the recruiting stuff as much as possible. With that being said, college coaches have come to practice during the time of year they are allowed to talk to kids. But the only thing I tell them is that, “I went to college and I had a great time so enjoy the process.” I don’t want them to be influenced by the things that I say so I want them to pick their own college and to enjoy it themselves. So we really do try to stay out of it, but we get phone calls from parents asking for advice or stuff like that. And the best advice we give kids is to go on a couple college visits. Go to campus, go to a dual meet and see what it’s like on campus to make sure you like what you see.

RH: Has there ever been a coach that was upset about a wrestler coming to your practice during the season?

JS: I’m sure there has been but nothing that I am aware of. When you have that many kids and you’ve been doing it for that long something is bound to come up. I’ve never heard of anything before. But at the end of the year at the state tournament I will be sitting way up top in the bleachers because I don’t want to take credit for a kid winning. I want them to jump in their high school coach’s arms. I want the same thing that their high school coach wants. I want the kid to get better and develop. But me saying, “I developed that kid” won’t happen. But I’m sure that there’s been times where a coach asked a kid why is he going to both places or saying “is our practice not good enough,” but no one has ever brought it up to me. But that’s why it’s important that we do the best job possible to help a kid develop. 

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