The opportunity to coach wrestling at the international level has been available to Brian Becher many times, but the timing was never in agreement for the 18-year AHS head mentor.
“In the past I have been asked a few times to coach the cadet- as well as the junior-level wrestlers at both the world championships and the Pan American championships,” said Becher.
“However, the competitions were always during the school year.”
But the Under-15 World Freestyle Championships, which took place Tuesday, June 18, in Budapest, Hungary, fell at the beginning of summer break for Becher, who has coached and taught freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling for nearly 20 years.
The team consisted of ten of the best wrestlers under 15 years of age in the country. They were selected during the U15 national tournament in Nebraska, April 14-15.
The winners were given the honor of representing the USA in the world championships.
“My responsibilities were nearly identical to what they are when traveling with our Archbold wrestlers, which many times resemble trying to herd chickens,” said Becher.
Meeting His Team
Normally, a national team has the benefit of a training camp before the start of an international event.
But the U-15 team was unable to train due to other wrestling commitments that interfered with training.
That was no matter to Becher, who managed to learn who his athletes were prior to competition.
“I did an interview with each wrestler to get an idea of how to coach each one of them,” Becher said.
“I asked them things like how they wanted to be talked to before the match, what their go-to moves were, and how they wanted coached during their matches.
“Not only did that discussion give me an idea of how to approach each individual, but it showed them that I had concern for what they needed and wanted from me as their coach.”
The team boarded a flight in Chicago on Friday, June 14.
After arriving in Hungary on Saturday, team members took part in hand fighting workouts, but were unable to hit the mats for a full team workout.
It was much the same on Sunday, with some running for some athletes who needed to maintain or cut weight.
The team finally practiced on Monday in the competition venue.
An opening ceremony was held that evening in a larger stadium.
Team USA earned three gold, three silver and three bronze medals.
Aden Valencia (California), Tyler Wells (Minnesota) and Ethan Stiles (Illinois) brought home championships.
“The biggest thing that stuck out to me regarding the athletes is that they were never satisfied with their performance regardless of how well they did,” said Becher.
“They always accepted personal responsibility for everything; they never placed blame on anything but themselves.”
On Wednesday, June 18, an athlete celebration was held. The competitors interacted with those from other competing countries.
A cultural day on Thursday, June 19, included a tour of Budapest, followed by a closing ceremony in the evening.
Working With One Of The Best
After applying for and receiving an acceptance as USA team coach, “I incorrectly assumed that I would be the assistant to” Kevin Jackson, a 1992 Olympic gold medalist and the developmental coach for USA Wrestling, said Becher.
“(Jackson) met us a day after we arrived in Budapest and we both assumed equal roles.
Was it awkward to be working with a coach of Jackson’s prowess?
The transition seemed easy and comfortable for Becher.
“Coach Jackson was great to work with,” Becher said.
“Our personalities are very similar in how we deal with the athletes.
“I also roomed with Kevin, so we spent a lot of time together. We would eat all our meals together and have a lot of conversations about wrestling and life.
“Coach Jackson did a great job of empowering me to take on the leadership role in many aspects of the team while he still was actively involved in many things.”
The bond was so great that it is leading to new opportunities and experiences.
“I felt honored toward the end of the trip when coach Jackson asked me if I would be willing to come to the Olympic training center to help him run the cadet world team camp from July 18-25, prior to the world championships in Bulgaria, as well as the junior world team camp from Aug. 1-9 prior to their world championships in Ukraine,” Becher said.
“Those camps are two more opportunities for me as a coach that I will take advantage of.”
Rewarding And Learning Experience
For Becher, the opportunity to represent his country on a coaching capacity was rewarding.
Even more important are the learning tools and styles that he brings back that will help him with his alreadysuccessful program at AHS.
“I believe that anytime a person gets the opportunity to immerse themselves in an environment where it is conducive to jump levels, that the opportunity needs to be seized,” said Becher.
“This was one of those opportunities for me as a wrestling coach.
“I learned from the coaches to not stress regarding things you can’t control. If we had a bus that was late or we couldn’t get on the mats; whatever it was, they just dealt with the situation and never complained about it.
“They were all very positive guys.
“I know at times I let things bother me that are out of my control. I am going to be better with that.”