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|Zadick, Cejudo, McCaffrey among freestyle wrestlers who have thrived after training at the OTC|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Ask Terry Brands a question about his mission as USA Wrestling's Freestyle Resident Coach and he fires an answer back at you as quickly as he used to double-leg his opponents to the mat.
"The mission of the resident program is to put seven guys on the World Team and bring seven gold medals home from the World Championships or Olympic Championships," Brands said. "To most it is just words that have forgotten meaning. With some, it is a yearly, monthly, daily, hourly, minute-by-minute quest to become the best and represent themselves in the most utmost fashion."
Apparently, the words still have some meaning. The influence of the no-nonsense, always-intense Brands already is paying off in a big way for American freestyle wrestlers.
That has been evident this year when Henry Cejudo won a silver medal and Patrick McCaffrey a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships before Bill Zadick followed a couple weeks ago by capturing a gold medal at the World Championships.
It's no coincidence that all three are resident-athletes at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. And all three work daily with Brands, a two-time World Champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist who has been a coach at USA Wrestling for just over a year.
The freestyle resident program is on the upswing, with more elite wrestlers like Zadick and 2005 World Team member Mo Lawal coming to Colorado Springs to train. A majority of the top women's freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers already train at the OTC, including 2006 World Greco-Roman Champion Joe Warren.
"There is no secret as to why both our World Champions this year came from athletes who are residents at the Olympic Training Center," USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach Kevin Jackson said. "Hopefully, all our athletes will recognize that. We have the coaches, the training partners, the facilities, everything you need right here to be successful."
Zadick came to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs two years ago after struggling to a seventh-place finish at the Olympic Trials.
"I wasn't progressing as well I should have," Zadick said. "I had to reevaluate what I needed to do to get better. It seemed like Colorado Springs was the place. I had spent a fair amount of time out there already, being on National Teams, and I knew what it was like and what being out there could do for me."
The arrival of Brands made a difference for Zadick.
"That was a big bonus for me when Terry came out there," Zadick said. "I don't think anybody can deny the impact Terry has had on the program. I already had a relationship with Terry before he came out to Colorado, so it was a pretty smooth transition for me. Obviously, the Brands name is pretty synonymous with intensity and passion for the sport. He brings a lot to the table and he's helped me a lot."
Brands said from April of 2005 to September of 2006 that Zadick took advantage of everything available to him at the OTC.
"(Zadick) did everything right," Brands said. "No missed practices, no showing up late, extensive film study, uncompromised work ethic and working on the areas that beat him in the past. He turned his training over to us and trusted in what he was learning from us."
A number of athletes who aren't residents still spend considerable time at the OTC during training camps prior to events. World Silver Medalist Mike Zadick and World Bronze Medalists Sammie Henson and Donny Pritzlaff spent a number of weeks at the OTC while preparing for the World Championships.
Brands also has served as one of the mentors for Cejudo, the talented 19-year-old with a bright future ahead of him.
"Terry is so fiery and enthusiastic - I love that," Cejudo said. "He's a two-time World Champion and that gives him instant credibility. He knows what he's talking about. He's an unbelievable coach. He's helped me improve my technique, my conditioning and my mental approach. I've improved tremendously in every aspect of wrestling because of him."
Another of Cejudo's mentors, USA Wrestling Freestyle Developmental Coach Dave Bennett, praised the work Brands has done.
"Terry's obviously brought a lot of intensity to the program," Bennett said. "He's also brought focus and discipline, which along with his intensity are ingredients that have made a big difference out here. He's done a great job with the athletes, no question about that."
Bennett said the impact of training at the OTC can be seen from the Senior level all the way down to the Cadet and youth levels.
"We've been able to bring our age-group athletes in here and train them at the OTC, which has been a huge benefit in the development of these young wrestlers," Bennett said. "You can see that in the success we've had at the University Worlds and the Junior World Championships. Kids come out here and they're able to totally focus on one style of wrestling. There are not a lot of distractions and they can really learn a lot.
"This isn't the only place an athlete can train and be successful, but when you look at what the Zadicks, Cejudo and McCaffrey have done this year, it certainly speaks volumes for this program. We have a coaching staff that is all on the same page. We all have the same philosophies as far as what areas we need to work on."