"We're going to bring home trophies."
It was more a promise than a declaration, but every young man in the room was with Coach Powell on that one.
Though the real kick-off to the wrestling season at Oak Park-River Forest High School is Wednesday, November 24 with the St. Patrick's dual, on Saturday the scores of parents and wrestlers from freshmen, sophomore, JV1 and JV2 through varsity, looked to this first wrestling parents meeting as the start of a great year.
"We are confident bordering on arrogant," Powell said from the podium. "We pride oursleves on working harder than all the other coaching staffs. But we can't do it without you," he said.
"We call it a wrestling family because in a lot of ways it is a family," Powell said. "By no means do we intend to replace you as parents, but it is nice to be loved."
The head wrestling coach at OPRF talked about the important lessons he and the coaching staff offer the athletes in the intense program. "We are teaching young men to be prideful, accountable and to follow delayed gratification." He added, "That is our No. 1 priority. A lot of coaching staffs preach that, but we don't just preach it, we hammer it and live it, that is what separates us."
In the last five years, no wrestler has been called out on a violation of the code of conduct. That is not the case with athletes in other sports at the school.
At the end of the season, Powell said, the young men on the team "will have as many great wrestling experiences as life experiences as possible." Whether that is team travel to camps, tournaments, community projects or the senior trip, Powell said "the discipline from wrestling is something in the end that is going to feed your soul."
As the new and more seasoned wrestling parents listened intently, Powell concluded, "We have the best kids in this school. We have the best parents in this school, no offense to anyone else. It all leads into the idea of family."