New Wrestling Coach Building Program
Ask new wrestling coach Buddy Curtis about his favorite memories as an athlete and he talks about his trips to the state tournament his junior and senior years, one a triumph and one a disappointment.
His junior year, wresting for Norfolk Collegiate, he had a banner year, going 28-4, winning the TCIS title and finishing third in the state, an accomplishment built upon his hard work in the weight room and buying into Coach Joe Boone’s system.
“It really paid off,” Curtis recalls. “I was able to perform at a high level.”
But the moment he talks about most, the one that sticks with him, isn’t a thrilling triumph. It’s a failure, a loss at the state championships his senior year after winning a second TCIS title. Curtis entered the tournament as the second seed and took getting into finals for granted. Instead, he lost in the semifinals, finishing fourth.
“I was focusing so much on winning the state championship that in the end I didn’t focus on what I was going to do to get there,” he says, noting that he didn’t go in with a good game plan. “I was focusing on the finals even before I was there. I let the moment psych me out. That was the worst tournament I ever wrestled.”
As a coach, Curtis says that memory reminds him to focus on what’s important during practice. For Curtis, that means drilling and pushing hard like you’re in a match, not just practicing for a match. “If you’re fully confident in practice, you will be fully confident in a match. Then you can just focus on wrestling and let the rest take care of itself,” he says.”
The coaching job is Curtis’s first although his senior project at Collegiate was leading the middle school team. He also worked summers as a camp counselor during summers. He comes with the right genes. His father, George, has coached youth football in Norfolk for three decades and is currently the offensive line coach at Maury High School. His mother, Anne, a longtime math teacher, coached soccer, field hockey, and tennis in her day.
Curtis wrestled on the varsity for three years at 145, 152 and 160. He says he takes ideas and philosophies from all the coaches he worked with along the way.
“I think the biggest thing that I’m focused on is building a program for long-term success, which starts with fundamentals, especially in wrestling, focusing on technique as the biggest building block,” he says.
He sees technique, strength and conditioning, and strategy as the three key areas in the sport. In the end, though, it all comes down to the fundamentals. “A lot of times is not the real complex stuff, but having good fundamentals and being able to execute them well,” he adds.
Curtis, who assisted as a coach last year, says the team lost only three grapplers to graduation. “We have really good numbers,” he adds, noting that about 40 guys, including about 20 on the varsity, are on the mats.
While the numbers are good, the team is still inexperienced, top heavy with underclassmen. “Most of our guys have one or two years of wrestling experience,” he says. “We’re still working on the fundamentals. ”
Curtis appreciates the renewed enthusiasm and commitment to athletics at the school. “What we’re trying to do goes in line with what Mary Peccie is trying to do,” he says. “Build up enthusiasm, build up the athletics program as a whole and make it something the kids at every level are excited about and able to participate in.”