The major turning point in Timothy Tran’s high school wrestling career came when he told coach Brian Callinan he was quitting the team.
Bayside’s team was deep at 106 pounds, and not only could Tran not break through to the varsity, but he was having to battle for a junior varsity spot. Callinan made him an offer.
“He told me if I came over the summer to every practice and didn’t see any progress, I could walk away and he wouldn’t question me,” Tran said.
He followed through, and a summer of tremendous improvement meant Callinan didn’t have to honor his promise to let Tran go, because Tran wasn’t going anywhere.
“I started beating kids I had never beaten before,” he said. “I got a lot better.”
Less than two years later, he won a fourth-place medal last March, completing a 46-9 season. For his career, he has an 90-29 record, including a 9-3 start this year as a senior wrestling at 113.
Tran’s earliest exposure to wrestling came the first time he heard his older brother talk about being on the Bayside team.
“One day, he was like, ‘It’s senior night. Come out.’ I watched and thought it looked pretty interesting.”
Tran was surprised it wasn’t like the professional wrestling he’d seen on television, and that led to his joining the Bayside team as a ninth-grader.
“He had very natural body movement,” Callinan said. “He knew where his body was going. We were able to teach him more moves at a greater pace.”
Tran did not qualify for the state tournament as a 10th-grader, but he went to watch the competition.
“I watched and knew I had to be there the next year.”
Tran became a state medalist while being relatively anonymous in the Bayside halls, saying he “was never an outgoing person.” This year, he doesn’t really spend time in the Bayside halls. He is a taking all his classes at Eastern Florida State College, where he has a 3.6 GPA.
When the postseason arrives in February, Tran will be a returning champion for the Cape Coast Conference and District 13-2A. Whether he’ll win another state medal will depend on where he falls on the bracket, among other factors, but there is reason for optimism.
“He tends to rise to the occasion,” said Patrick O’Bryan, the longtime Bears head coach who now assists Callinan. “The tougher the opponent, the better he wrestles.”
Contact McCallum at 321-242-3698 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow facebook.com/FLtoday.brianmccallum and @Brian_McCallum on Twitter.