Imagine if Mary Lou Retton was your high school gymnastics coach in 1984 or Michael Phelps was your prep swimming instructor in 2004. That’s how everyone at Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.) hopes this story ends with new wrestling coach Jason Welch.
The three-time NCAA All-American trains for the U.S. Olympic Trials by dat at Northwestern University, where he finished second in the 157-pound weight class at the 2013 NCAA Division I wrestling tournament, and then coaches Loyola by night.
“I can’t expect the kids to do the moves I can do, but I can give specific instruction to each kid based on his skills,” Welch told the Chicago Tribune. “That’s something I enjoy about wrestling. It’s a time-consuming approach, but it’s worth it in the end.”
Welch was hired this past August to replace longtime wrestling coach Chris Stephens, who stepped down due to other commitments, and the Olympic hopeful is already receiving rave reviews from his team members, who told the Chicago Tribune they credit his weight class specific training method for their rapid improvement.
Wrestling at 145, 152 and 160 pounds in high school, Welch captured three California state championships and a runner-up finish in his four prep campaigns.
Now, Welch is training at 154 pounds, hoping to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team when he competes in the trials at the University of Iowa from April 8-10. And who knows? Come this time next year, Welch might be returning to Loyola Academy with a medal in hand from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Stephens probably said it best when he told the Tribune Welch is “a certified bad—.”
As if that’s not enough on his plate, Welch is pursuing his Master of Fine Arts degree in the creative writing department at Bennington College in Vermont. Someday, Loyola Academy might have an Olympic wrestler slash Pulitzer winner as its coach.