Even though a full team has not been selected and the first official practice is still months away, Kevin Tate, Head Coach of Rend Lake College’s new wrestling team, has high expectations of his grapplers.
“I am really excited. I think this is going to be a lot of fun and it will be rewarding, but I really want to have a national championship-caliber team. If we are not aiming for that, there is really no reason for us to be here,” Tate said.
“I am looking forward to bringing in some kids with some talent. We need a good nucleus of wrestlers who motivate each other and want to get better,” he said.
Tate is no stranger to this region. He has served as head wrestling coach at various area high schools, including Pinckneyville, Sparta, Benton and Mt. Vernon. He resides in Whittington.
Tate said he started wrestling in kids’ clubs and later competed in high school. He described himself as “a little better than average” during his competitive days, but said coaching wrestling and actually wrestling are two different worlds.
“Just because you were a good athlete doesn’t necessarily make you a good coach,” Tate said. “Your mind has to work very quickly to be successful in this sport.”
Tate said the greatest reward of coaching is seeing a wrestler excel. “I love to teach. I like to take a kid who has talent, refine it and see him make it to the next level.”
The difference in coaching at the college level versus the high school level is that Tate can hand-pick the members of the team. “The kids will bring with them what got them here in the first place. We won’t have to teach them how to wrestle all over again,” he said.
Tate described wrestling as being the most difficult schedule in college. Balancing class work with practice, cutting weight and tournaments can be tough. “Practice is a three-hour war every day,” Tate said.
As far as competition, most tournaments in which the RLC Warriors will compete will be open tournaments and competitions with other community colleges. Possible locations for competitions nearby include Central Missouri State, University of Missouri at Columbia and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, among others.
“This is going to do nothing but help wrestling in Southern Illinois,” Tate said of RLC’s new program. “This is going to be a lot of fun.”
Wrestlers can earn tuition waivers. For more information, contact the RLC Athletics Office at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1250.
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