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Tuesday, June 28, 2022
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Wrestling and life lessons

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SPRING HILL, Fla. — There is an old classroom which is located just beyond the loading dock at Springstead High School. The age of this room is noticeable, the paint on the wall is faded and the air conditioning does not work so well. Inside this room though, the tradition of success permeates for a club which teaches wrestling and life lessons.

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Spring Hill Wrestling Club was formed in 1980, by Springstead acclaimed wrestling coach Bob Levjia. This club has a rich history and has produced some individual champions.

Springstead High School wrestling coach Mike LaRocca and Spring Hill Wrestling Club coach Louis Kachiroubas have no problem in expressing their respect for the other’s program. Both coaches also have no doubt about the importance of wrestling and the benefits that the sport holds. 

The philosophy of both coaches is simple, they want to educate the young wrestlers, as they flip-flop and grapple on top of these ancient blue foam mats. 

Both coaches teach their young athletes the ability to adapt, to take the initiative, to overcome any obstacle but you can only achieve these goals by working hard in preparation for triumph. Being a former member of the United States Marines Corps, LaRocca is familiar with that philosophy.

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LaRocca graduated from Springstead High School back in 1998. He obtained his college degree before he came back home to coach the Eagles midway through the 2006 season. His first full season as the Eagles’ wrestling coach started in the 2007 season and he is not ready to hang up his mat shoes any time soon.

Kachiroubas is a dedicated coach to the sport of wrestling as well. He became involved with the wrestling club with assistant coach Chris Soto and Levjia back in 1996.

“After Bob’s kids grew up and went through high school and graduated, he had the youth program and he was not doing too much with the youth program and in 1996, it was taken over by myself and Chris,” Kachiroubas explained. “We had my kids and his kids in it, along with his nephew came through. He stopped after his kids went to high school but I have continued on.”  

Kachiroubas is proud of all of the athletes that have passed through the door that leads into the small room inside Springstead High School.

Kachiroubas makes sure that all the visitors take a look at the record board that hangs on the south wall displaying all of the individual and team accomplishments.There are a lot of names painted on the sign and it is an impressive list along with the team’s awards.

There are many graduates of the Spring Hill Wrestling Club and Springstead High School that participate in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), including former state champion Corey Hill.

The wrestling season includes the Corey Hill Memorial Tournament that will be featured at Springstead High School, December 20 and 21, 2019.

Spring Hill Wrestling Club operates under the guidelines for business and for teaching under the programs managed by USA Wrestling, which is associated with Amateur Athletic Union. 

The bylaws assist clubs with defining work ethics and combining self-discipline together with aspirations of being a champion.

Kachiroubas and his assistant are responsible for two groups of wrestlers that are participating in the club.

The first group is for the beginning wrestler that is still young enough in the sport that they need to learn the very basics of the sport. Some of the young wrestlers are elementary school students and some of their teammates are attending junior high schools.

They learn about the basic rules of wrestling and have a chance to tumble, to do cartwheels, to do some gymnastics and most important – realize that wrestling is fun – which is the first rule for the young wrestlers to learn because it is the most important rule to know.

LaRocca says that Kachiroubas has the patience of a saint with the beginning wrestlers and with him. 

The second group is for the more advanced wrestler and is a competitive class. They are already working to raise the competitive bar to a new level. They are also learning that the individuals on the team create the team.

LaRocca appreciates the long tradition of the Spring Hill Wrestling Club and has adopted a lot of those traditions, which have made their way inside the Eagles’ locker room and also out to the mats at Springstead High School.

“I kind of keep myself with the administration realm during club, just for the simple fact that when they get to high school, I don’t want them burned out with me and my coaching style,” LaRocca said. “We make it fun and we build the foundation, core strength and discipline. When they get here to me that is where we get to the grit and gritty, that is where we compete for championships.”

The upcoming Springstead High School wrestling season begins in the month of October with the first meet in early November, LaRocca says that he is excited to get after it.

All of the wrestlers working and sweating under the faded white tile ceiling of the Spring Hill Wrestling Club, located inside the old auto shop classroom and the members of the Springstead wrestling team all agree that being a member of this special club has taught them that there is more to life, even after their wrestling career is completed.

Watching the young wrestlers warm up and get ready for their session, they were all business-like, working together getting through the routine. They all shared the same idea, if they pinned down the work early, then they will be able to play and have fun because-it is a rule to follow! 

Correction: Article updated to show LaRocca graduated from Springstead High School in 1998 not 1989.

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