The California Wrestler got the opportunity to sit and talk with new St. John Bosco head coach JEFF ANDERSON. A longtime assistant for the Braves, Anderson will now take over the reins and continue the success of producing state and national champions. Anderson is an alumnus of Bosco as he was a two-time state qualifier and Southern Section Masters champion in the late 90s. After his scholastic career concluded, Anderson went on to compete for Columbia.
TCW – What is your philosophy of coaching and its relationship to education?
ANDERSON – I think it is essential for a coach to expect the best from his athletes and hold them to the highest standards, not only in athletics but life. We are building young men of character at Bosco and coaching is one way to achieve that. I try to do everything in my power to give them the tools to be the best on the mat and help guide them in life. I like to question and interact with them, so they don’t get stuck going through the motions. It is vital for me that they understand and appreciate the sport at a deeper level. It is not good enough to merely tell them what to do; I need them to know why they are doing it and what it all means. I see coaching as an extension of the education process. In any subject or sport, there are best practices that need to be learned; but the goal isn’t just memorization, it is to have command and understanding of the subject matter. At some point, the kids need to take ownership of their journey and learn they have it within themselves to keep advancing and improving beyond what they think they can.
TCW – What do you believe is the proper role of parents in any athletic program?
ANDERSON – We ask a lot of our parents, and we get a lot of help in return. If there is a proper role, it’s to provide support and encouragement to their sons and then the team. I like to develop relationships with the parents to see how they can contribute best. Most of the time just being on the same page as the coaches is a tremendous help. I used to think that parents should just drop their kid off and trust what the coaches are doing, but now I wholeheartedly embrace parents being actively involved in the program… watching, questioning, supporting, interacting, etc. To be honest, to achieve something great requires a fantastic team effort, with everyone contributing, and parents are a big part of that.
TCW – What role do assistant coaches at all levels play in your program? Do you consider yourself a micro or macro manager?
ANDERSON – My assistant coaches play an incredibly important role in the success of our program. It takes a team to make this happen. When I took over, I knew it was vitally important to keep our coaches doing what they do and provide a structure where they could give their best. One of my goals was to develop a highly collaborative environment where we are all guided by the Bosco System.
Overall, I would say I am a macro manager. I realize I can’t do it all myself and rely heavily on my assistant coaches. Coach Ruben Valencia is the head of our varsity room and has been a driving force for the success of our team at the State and the Nation level. Coach Jenaro Santillan is the head of our JV and Frosh/Soph room and has been a valuable asset, guiding our young newcomers and beginners. Along with them, we also have a crew of coaches (Dave Lorenzo, Hector Delgado, Brian Burnett, Danny Sanchez, Jesse Bueno and Bryson Fong) that believe in our system and contribute positively to our boys’ lives. They are all different but believe in Bosco Wrestling.
TCW – How does it feel to be the head coach of one of the top programs in the golden state and the country?
ANDERSON – Amazing. To be considered one of the top programs in the State and Nation is a special honor. I love the challenge this sport brings, and I love seeing our boys succeed. I am glad our program is getting the recognition it does; our boys work tremendously hard for it. But even if we didn’t have the success that we have, I would still love this job. I would keep promoting our boys and spreading our brand of wrestling because I believe in them. I joke around that my mom dropped me off at Bosco as a freshman in 1993, and I never really left. I love giving back to the school that has given me so much and was so crucial to my success in life.
TCW – Do you plan on fundraising and what type of activities would you use?
ANDERSON – Yes, and we are always looking for new donors. Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to donate
In all honesty, though, I understand that fundraising will be an ongoing effort and will be one of my primary roles as Head Coach. I want to send our kids to the best tournaments and give them the best training, but that takes money. Right now, we are developing our Pin Club campaign, Dance Fundraiser, Camp Fundraisers, and Outreach Campaigns. I think this goes hand in hand with building our community and fan support too. It is essential that we grow our support to achieve our goals. People want something to believe in and want to be part of something great. That is what Bosco Wrestling is striving for.
TCW – Describe a coaches’ role as a motivator. How do you plan on motivating your wrestlers and getting them to buy into their role on the team each year?
ANDERSON – I love the phrase “you can make a man run, but you can’t make him run fast.” That has to come from within. I think that gets at the crux of how I motivate. Most of the time I like to listen and observe. I am searching for roadblocks that are keeping my kids from becoming their best. It is essential to stay positive but realistic with them and help them develop their self-confidence and their motivation.
Bosco Wrestling is an extraordinary place. You are part of something bigger when you join the team. In my eyes, every Bosco Wrestler (from our State Champions to our newbies) is an essential piece to our success. Together we become better. I think our whole community understands that and it translates well to all our boys.
TCW – How do you handle the tryout and cut process?
ANDERSON – I am very proud we are a non-cut sport. We encourage all our students to try out. I started when I was a freshman and was dead last on the depth chart when the season began. I had a desire and will to get better and couldn’t imagine being told I was cut when I knew nothing.
Regarding moving up the ranks though, we are continually evaluating our student-athletes and seeing how they are progressing. A significant part of that though is seeing what kind of commitment and effort they are making.
TCW – What are three things that your previous experience in coaching has taught you?
ANDERSON – 1. If you believe in yourself and put in the work, you can do it. 2. Being there to help a student-athlete achieve their goal is one of the best feelings in the world. 3. But being there to help a student-athlete when they fall short of their goal is one of the most important life lessons to be involved in.
TCW – How has coaching affected your life?
ANDERSON – Coaching gives me purpose and is a way for me to give back. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the coaches I had in my life. I saw what I could achieve with a little help and guidance, and that is what I want to give back to our boys. I have become more appreciative of the process of development and the process of overcoming struggles since I have been coaching.
TCW – Who are your role models in coaching and why?
ANDERSON – I have a lot of influences that I have drawn on. My wrestling coaches Omar Delgado (High School), Lou Montano (College) and Brendan Buckley (College) all believed I could be better than I was and made me see it.
I do a lot of reading and have found that John Wooden and Sir John Whitmore have influenced my thinking about coaching. The way they think about the coaching process resonates with me.
TCW – How much of a mentor was former head coach Delgado to you?
ANDERSON – He was instrumental in my life. He was selfless in his time and saw us as sons. He made me realize that a good coach doesn’t give up on the kids even if they might want to. I coached under him for 11 years and wrestled for him for three years. I’ve learned so much from him and look to continue and build upon the success he has had.
TCW – What tournaments will you guys be attending this upcoming season?
ANDERSON – Our varsity is going to be attending South Torrance, Westminster, Ironman, TOC, Doc B, and Battle for the Belt, CIF Duals, CIF, Masters, and State.
I am also excited to increase the competition schedule for our Junior Varsity and Frosh/Soph boys.
TCW – What are your goals for the team in March?
ANDERSON – We aren’t stopping till we are the top team in the State. We preach to our kids that they all have it within themselves to be State Champions. If they put in the work and give everything to achieve that, the team goals and personal goals take care of themselves. Beyond the purposes though, I want to see inspired performances in March, where our boys do wrestle to the best of their abilities.