Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Building a base – Harvard Wrestling Club

One of the main reasons the Harvard High School wrestling team has the second most dual-team wins in the state of Illinois, behind Coal City, is the Harvard Wrestling Club. The club has been in place for more than 27 years and has helped develop the wrestling talent that has led to 27 consecutive Class A regional championships, multiple state-place finishers and multiple team appearances in the state tournament.

Harvard resident Dave Brady, owner Brady Jewelers, has been the president of Harvard Wrestling Club for the last 23 years. Three of his children were club members — Rob, Nick and Renee. Rob finished third in state at 140, Nick was a member of the third-place dual state team, and Renee was nationally ranked in junior high. Brady had his own success on the mat, finishing second in state in 1974.

The goal of the program, according to Brady, is very simple.

“We want to introduce the program to youth, so they realize it is not what they see on TV and give them an opportunity to go out and wrestle if they want to,” Brady said. “They have to start somewhere, and we would like to start them before junior high. It gets them a little experience so, when they get to junior high, David Schultz takes it the rest of the way.”

The club has 57 members this year and is for children from kindergarten through fifth grade. The club works together with the junior high and the high school so there is consistent material throughout, and wrestlers are learning the same lesson in kindergarten and in high school.

“We teach the exact same thing, from kindergarten through high school,” said HHS wrestling coach Tim Haak, who ran the club for 12 years. “You have to have a plan. You don’t deviate from it. We are fortunate enough to have a lot of people volunteer their time. It’s a wrestling family.”

“Tim has a hands-on program,” Brady said. “If you want to be successful at the high school level, the head coach must be involved in all levels of the program.”

The club runs from the end of January until mid-March, ending with the Dean’s Classic. Brady said the program is only six weeks long so they can pay more attention to the club participants. The high school wrestlers help out with the club after their season ends.

“By the time we start, high school is usually finishing up and we have the high school kids come up and help,” Brady said. “They are just paying back what the older kids did for them.”

“Those younger kids go watch the meets so, to have some of those guys go and work with them, means the world. It’s important for our kids to give back,” Haak said.

The club’s two big fundraisers are the meat raffle at Bopp’s Tavern in January and the Dean’s Classic. The 29th annual Dean’s Classic will be Saturday, March 18, at Harvard High School. Participation is capped at 300.

For information on the Harvard Wrestling Club or the Dean’s Classic, call Brady at 815-943-4334 (days) or 815-943-4779 (nights).