Story by Tony Miles, Submitted by Simsbury Public Schools
While the coach of Alabama gets credit for building another powerhouse on the national football scene, Simsbury¹s wrestling coach quietly has done the same thing in the Nutmeg State.
Seven years after leaving a Glastonbury program that he built into one of the best in Connecticut, Goodwin is making an even larger statement with his unbeaten Trojans. Inheriting a once-proud program that had fallen on hard times, Goodwin arrived just prior to the 2007 campaign and preached program, program, program. He made it clear that he wasn't looking for short-term answers and committed to building from the ground up.
With the help of a dedicated parent¹s club and some very loyal coaches, Goodwin put all the pieces in place and now is reaping the benefits. With the most balanced team in his seven-year tenure, Goodwin has Simsbury ranked second in the state behind perennial powerhouse Danbury. To climb to the top, Goodwin has relied on a superb balance of senior leadership, depth and impact newcomers.
Led by senior captain Ben Durst, who is closing in on the Trojans¹ all-time win mark, Simsbury has shown remarkable depth as a dual meet team and as a tournament participant. Durst and fellow senior captains John DePasquale, Tyler Stemm and Ed Novak have spearheaded an attack that has knocked off three top 10 opponents in dual meets while taking titles at the Fairfield Warde, Frank Chaves and Skip Arden tournaments.
While the aforementioned four seniors and classmate Christian Kaljulaid have combined for nearly 100 individual wins this season, the Trojans are far from a top-heavy squad. Balance throughout the lineup has been the key to success as 11 wrestlers have at least 15 victories. Among the most successful in that group are freshman Keith Penney a product of that youth program ¬ and junior upperweight Brad Helmkamp. Sophomores Vinny Palermo and Jacob Feldman and freshman Keith Fernandes have balanced the lineup throughout and been pleasant surprises for Goodwin.
The significant progress in the circle has been matched outside the gym as revenue generated over the last five years enabled the team to purchase of a state-of-the-art mat. A dedicated web site is constantly updated with results and photos and Goodwin¹s dream of a championship wall to preserve the program¹s legacy is a impressive reminder to everyone who puts on a singlet.
Many thought Goodwin was nuts to leave a rising program that he put on the map in Glastonbury but even his harshest critics are amazed by what he has built in Simsbury. The Trojans still have lots of work ahead of them as they have a major CCC West showdown with No. 3 and fellow unbeaten Farmington on February 6th at 6 pm. Coincidentally, that is Senior Night for the Trojans, where Goodwin will honor the athletes and parents that helped build this program. A win that night would only seem fitting for a coach that focuses on putting the good of the program first.