The past year has seen a huge reorganization of the coaching staff for the Helias Catholic wrestling team. After a lengthy summer and fall looking for a replacement for recently departed Coach Jacob Wadley, it was agreed upon by the activities department and Coach Bryant Gaines that he would accept the head coaching position on an interim basis for the 2015-2016 school year. Gaines was already a familiar figure to Helias wrestling, as he won two state championships when he was in high school, and had also been an assistant coach for the 2013-2015 seasons.
“It’s kinda weird to come into practice everyday and have your dad there giving orders and trying to run a practice,” said junior Nick Gaines, son of Coach Gaines. “It’s just a strange feeling to have Head Coach Dad making all the decisions for both myself and my teammates.
“I think Gaines was a great choice for the job,” said senior Andrew Bennett. “You can really tell that he cares about the kids, and he’s always been a really approachable guy. He’s someone you can mess around with and joke, but he’ll also push you to your limits and give you those opportunities to be the best you can be.”
The only other returning member of the coaching staff from the 2014-2015 season is Coach Dave Nicolaescu, also known as Coach Nico. Coach Nico tries to make it to as many after school practices as possible, in addition to working full time for the Cole County Sheriff’s office as a deputy.
“Nico manages to make it in most days, and those are some of my favorite days to be wrestling,” said sophomore Zach Carr. “He’s probably our best coach for working with our lighter weights. He’ll jump in and show you exactly what you need to improve to perfect a particular move.”
Coming to the Helias coaching staff for the first time are Coach Logan Shea, Coach Jeff Berendzen, and Coach Marc Ferrin. Shea and Berendzen are both former Helias wrestlers, with Berendzen winning an individual state title for the Crusaders. Ferrin brings extensive experience at the international level to the coaching table for the Saders.
“I think all our new coaches were great additions,” said senior Nick Carr. “Coach Ferrin and Coach Berendzen do a great job working with our middle to heavy weights. Berendzen definitely brings a smashmouth method of wrestling to the table. Ferrin adds a different perspective to the table, as he has spent time working with Olympic caliber wrestlers. Shea brings a level of intensity to our wrestling that we need, especially when we’re tired and dont really want to keep pushing.”
Returning for the Crusaders after an absence are both Coach Travis Reinsch and legendary Coach Mike Jeffries. Jeffries is returning in a consulting role for the Saders after years away from a coaching position. Both men put as much time into the sport as they can, trying to develop young athletes while working around their busy lives.
“I really appreciate when Jeffries and Reinsch can make it in,” said Zach Carr. “They both have a lot of experience in the sport and can contribute so much to our team. I feel like you always absorb so much knowledge when you get the whole staff together for a practice. All in all, I feel that our coaching staff is one of the most solid in the state, and we couldn’t ask for more out of them.”