Section VIII 2009-2010 Season Preview

It’s that time of the year again. No it’s not Thanksgiving or Christmas. Good guess. It’s Wrestling Season. Let’s get the dust off the headgear and put the singlet on. Section 8 has had some dramatic changes, and we will address them. The Pre-season rankings appear way off with wrestlers in the wrong weights, but that’s a story for another day.

tugawarIt’s that time of the year again. No it’s not Thanksgiving or Christmas. Good guess. It’s Wrestling Season. Let’s get the dust off the headgear and put the singlet on. Section 8 has had some dramatic changes, and we will address them. The Pre-season rankings appear way off with wrestlers in the wrong weights, but that’s a story for another day. Continue reading “Section VIII 2009-2010 Season Preview”

An Interview with Howie Greenblatt (Part 4: Influences)

LHW: What are your expectations for next season? Will you win another county tournament title again? Will you be the top Dual meet team in Nassau County Again?

LHW: What do you want to achieve that you haven’t achieved already?

Steve Delorenzo Victorioius 2006 Nassau County Championship
Steve Delorenzo Victorioius 2006 Nassau County Championship

HOWIE:  Every now and then I look back at our achievements, like the wall at MacArthur and the county titles, and I can’t believe it.  It’s surreal.  It’s like wow that’s cool. I had a burning desire to turn MacArthur into a top program.  The records were never my aim.  It’s always been about being the most competitive that we could be and facing the best competition.  I didn’t want the records to detract from the interest of the wrestlers, so we always went after the best competition. 

We achieved so much.  What more can we shoot for?  We were ranked number 1 in the state.  In 2001 Steve Shippos said to me, “you know what? This is the best high school team that I’ve ever seen.”  The next week we went to the county tournament and we had six champions.  The following year we’re ranked 23rd in the country, number 1 in NYS.  We had 5 NYS place winners.  We follow that up by taking 2nd in the state, and we broke the Nassau county record with 13 county place winners. 

Every year something beautiful is achieved. And I’m pretty good now, and I’m very proud of what we accomplished here together.

LHW: Of the seven team championships, which one will you most fondly remember and why?

HOWIE: The first year that we won the Nassau county championship was special.  We were working hard for so many years, just to come up a little bit short.  Therefore, when the title finally came it was so gratifying to express in words.   Now, I always believe we’re gonna do it because we have a system that works.

The second time that we won was also special.  We had six champions that year.  But I remember, coming into the second day, we were trailing by quite a few and only had half a dozen guys remaining.  I told my team that we could not afford to lose a single match.  And despite four of the six not being ranked, we went on and went undefeated for the day.   

We ended up with six champions and a 3rd. And I don’t believe the kid who took third had a winning record the year before.

So that year was special because we kind of pulled it out of the hat, but we also worked hard for it, and the training and the program was responsible.  You don’t have that kind of success without the right things going on in the room all season long.

An Interview with Howie Greenblatt (Part 3: The Passion)

LHW: It’s been rumored that you will be retiring from wrestling shortly to spend more time with your kids. Is there any truth to this?

LHW: It’s been rumored that you will be retiring from wrestling shortly to spend more time with your kids.  Is there any truth to this?

Anthony Daly 2008 Nassau County Dual Meet Championship Finals
Anthony Daly 2008 Nassau County Dual Meet Championship Finals

HOWIE: I’ve been doing this for 24 years, and it may be time. I’m not sure, but this year may be it.   I have 3 young kids, ages 8, 7, and 4, and it’s difficult to build a successful program and at the same time devote quality time to your kids; it’s not impossible, it’s just difficult.

If I’m going to be here as head coach, I have to know that I can give it my all because it’s not fair to these young wrestlers who have high goals if I can’t give my all to help them achieve their dreams.

LHW: It’s been rumored that you ducked a dual meet with the Wantagh team last season.  Is there any truth to that?

HOWIE: We’ve been County Champs seven years out of the last eight. I was not looking at Wantagh as being in our game.  Coach Murphy talked himself into the spotlight. As a seven time County Champ if you want to wrestle me, you come to me.  He never did. Continue reading “An Interview with Howie Greenblatt (Part 3: The Passion)”

An Interview with Howie Greenblatt (Part 2: The Way)

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.

Coach Howie Instructing in the Corner
Coach Howie Instructing in the Corner

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.

Continue reading “An Interview with Howie Greenblatt (Part 2: The Way)”

An Interview with Howie Greenblatt (Part I: The Man)

I decided to start by interviewing Howie Greenblatt, the Head Coach of MacArthur High School for the past 24 years. During this time at the head of Nassau County’s current wrestling dynasty, Greenblatt has remained so modest and focused on the objective at hand that hardly have we heard a word about the man or his team first concept outside of the occasional rumor and/or idol forum chatter. For this reason, as well as the fact that the Generals are coming off of their 7th County title, I perceived Howie to an ideal subject to profile.

Because of a lack of sufficient coverage of the sport of wrestling by Newsday and/or other local media outlets, I’ve long wanted to be the one who finally brought the sport into the mainstream through the introduction of home grown coverage …I decided to start by interviewing Howie Greenblatt, the Head Coach of MacArthur High School for the past 24 years.  During this time at the head of Nassau County’s current wrestling dynasty, Greenblatt has remained so modest and focused on the objective at hand that hardly have we heard a word about the man or his team first concept outside of the occasional rumor and/or idol forum chatter.  For this reason, as well as the fact that the Generals are coming off of their 7th County title, I perceived Howie to an ideal subject to profile.

This being my first foray into the art of the interview, I must say, had I know in advance what I was getting myself into, I may have never done it.  The work load is tedious and abundant.  When all was said and done, I must have put a solid 20 hours of effort into this piece.  Continue reading “An Interview with Howie Greenblatt (Part I: The Man)”