Andy Tomlin may have left Bulloch Academy to coach at Screven County, but he had plenty of his former Gator wrestling team on the Screven County campus this week. They were joined by Statesboro High and a few other area schools as the Gamecocks host the annual Takedown Wrestling Academy, which made a stop in Sylvania.
“We had a great turnout with over 100 kids here this week,” Tomlin said. “We had kids from Statesboro, Bulloch Academy, Pinewood and a few Savannah Schools as well. Overall I thought it was a great success.”
The Takedown Wrestling Academy makes stops throughout the state of Georgia throughout the summer. Based out of Lawrenceville the academy has helped produce over 100 state champions, 23 national champions, and have helped place over 60 kids into college wrestling programs.
“The high school kids sometimes get tired of hearing the same thing come out of their coaches mouths,” Tomlin said. “Hearing it from people who have accomplished what these guys have accomplished usually clicks more with the kids.”
“When they hear a college wrestling all american talk, they usually listen,” Tomlin said. “The teach them techniques, but they also tell them about cutting weight in a healthy way, and the importance of nutrition. Many of us as coaches preach these things to the kids, but hearing it from guys with their kind of credentials gets through a little better.”
Among the high school teams on hand was Valdosta High. It was a bit of a haul for the Wildcats, but Tomlin was happy that former Screven County wrestling coach John Robbins brought his whole team to the three day event.
Robbins was one of Tomlin’s inspirations to begin coaching wrestling, and Tomlin is hoping to bring the Gamecock program back to the kind of success that Robbins had when he was at Screven County.
“When I was in high school 15-20 years ago Screven County was a state power under coach Robbins, Tomlin said. “I idolized him, and over the past few days I have really tried to pick his brain for ideas to get us back to where they once were.”
Tomlin and coach Griffen Greene are trying to combine their strengths in order to rebuild the Gamecock program into the same kind of success Tomlin had at Bulloch Academy, where the Gators have won four straight state titles.
“Coach Greene and I are co-head coaches,” Tomlin said. “We know it’s going to take a plan to get to where we want to be. I’m going to focus more on developing the feeder program, the younger kids, all the way to the elementary school level. Coach Griffin will work more with the older kids.”
“There is a lot of talent here,” Tomlin said. “The first day of camp football was going on, and I had four or five kids come up to me and ask if they can come and try wrestling. They got on the mat, and they were naturals.”
“The Blueprint that we had at Bulloch Academy can definitely work here,” Tomlin said. “I think we have a lot of support from the community, and as long as that is in place, the sky's the limit.”