2011 NCAAs will be historical for many in Philly

Updated: November 2, 2010

By Mike Finn

MIke Finn

Imagine if you will the year 2040 and — assuming we still have college wrestling following this current and scary era of discontinued programs —  the NCAA is hosting its 112th edition of the Division I National Championships.

And now imagine there coaching Iowa and Penn State are Tom Brands and Cael Sanderson coaching their respective Hawkeye and Nittany Lion teams for the 35th and 31st times in their careers.

Is such a thing actually possible? Possibly not, but Drexel’s Jack Childs has proven such a moment is more than possible. In fact, it will be historical when he coaches his Dragon wrestlers for the 35th and  last time, March 17-19, 2011, in the city that the Pennsylvania native has called home since he accepted the position at Drexel in 1976, oddly the year the United States was celebrating its bicentennial. And no place in the U.S. appreciates this country’s history more than Philadelphia, which served as the capitol to the young nation before the creation of Washington, D.C.

And now Childs wants fans to experience what made Philadelphia the “City of Brotherly Love.”

All-Time Active Winning Coach: Jack Childs of Drexel

“They need to feel the ambiance of the city,” said Childs.

Yes the tournament will be held at the Wells Fargo Arena, which is five miles south of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. And the reality is that most fans will hang out at the WIN Memorabilia Show and Fanfest near the arena, but there is something unique about this city.

Oddly, Philadelphia has never hosted the national tournament before this season considering the area plays host to many college wrestling programs, including nearby Penn, which competes in the historic Palestra.

“The origin of that word means a stadium for wrestling,” said Childs.

Most likely, Childs will not have a finalist to coach at this year NCAAs, considering Drexel has only featured two Division I All-Americans — Rob Rebmann claimed seventh place at 125 pounds in 2004 and Ryan Hluschak finished eighth at 157 pounds in 2007 — and only one Drexel wrestler is ranked in WIN’s national rankings.

But the NCAA should take a moment to honor the likes of Childs, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006 … and his buddy, Gary Taylor, who has coached over 32 years at Rider, which is serving as co-host for this year’s Nationals.

Just take a look at Martin Fleming’s list of the sport’s all-time winningest coaches on page 92 and you’ll seed Childs and Taylor listed among the top active Division I coaches.

But the accomplishments that coaches like Childs and Taylor are more than their wins. They began coaching in a different era when coaches were known more as teachers than helping schools fill arena seats.

Perhaps some day down the road, wrestling will also honor the likes of a Brands and Sanderson for showing their love of wrestling … like Childs.