LHW: You lost a number of accomplished wrestlers to graduation two years ago. What were the challenges in keeping the team strong and finishing in the top spot again this year?
HOWIE: The most import thing is to get the kids to believe in the goal; to desire that goal; to make it their passion. As soon as the season was over, I began talking with the wrestlers and started to get them excited about the goal of working towards and winning another Nassau County Championship.
They have to own it. I’d say to them that the future of this program is in your hands. If you commit, we’re gonna be right back in this, and it’s gonna be fun. If you commit to this goal, I’m gonna be here for you. I’ll be down in this room (in the off season) until you’re no longer here.
So it’s about getting them to own the goal and demonstrating to the team that I’m committed as the coach to helping them achieve that goal. I have to walk-the-talk by being there. The commitment of the coach to achieving a team championship is no less demanding than the commitment required of the wrestler to achieve an individual championship.
LHW: How are you able to have a good offseason practice with kids just from your school?
HOWIE: My goal is to build a winning team at MacArthur, and I believe for us to realize that, I need to work with my kids in the off season… I want my wrestlers in the MacArthur room during the off-season with me and my coaching staff because we’re going to train them to win a championship for MacArthur.
To get the kids out in the off-season, we have to make it fun. Therefore, we work to create a fun family environment. But, tt all comes back to having a goal. If the wrestlers buy into the goal of winning a championship, they want to be here, and my staff and I want to be here to help them achieve that goal.
It’s the mission and the sense of purpose that we are trying to create here that drives this team to work together and brings us all closer together as a team. So the wrestlers come here to be part of something special…to work towards something larger than themselves. That’s motivating, and that’s what drives the wrestlers to commit during the off-season to MacArthur.