When Jared Kahmar had to give up coaching wrestling at Port Jervis High School due to his Athletic Director responsibilities, he was heartbroken.
“For the first two years I was Athletic Director, I was still able to coach wrestling,” he said. [Kahmar said he coached for seven years at the JV and Varsity levels]. “But when I went full time in an administrative position, I wasn’t allowed to coach any longer. I had to step away from the program and it always tore at me. Wrestling is something inside of you and I wanted to be a part of it.”
He’s part of the sport again. In fact, he’s the first leader of the brand new SUNY Sullivan wrestling program, which will take the mat for the first time in 2013-14.
“This avenue opening up was just perfect,” he said. “I’m just so excited and grateful. You never know when you’ll be presented with a great opportunity, but the way it worked out for my family is great. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and everything came into place at SUNY Sullivan with my family’s support.”
Kahmar officially has a part time role with the Generals in addition to his duties as an Assistant Principal at Port Jervis.
“I know it will be like having two full time positions,” he said. “And I’m really excited to get after it.”
He certainly has had to “get after it” right away. After coming on board in mid July, Kahmar has been on a mission to get the foundation in place for the rapidly approaching school year.
“As you can imagine, I started a little late in the game, with the semester starting in about a month,” he said. “There was a lot of excitement about a program beginning here and our Athletic Director [Christopher DePew] did a great job. Only so much can be done without the coach in place, though. My panic button kicked in about bringing kids in and getting situated. We had a mat when I started, but not too much in place as far as a schedule and a roster.”
He said the wrestling community, particularly in Section 9, has been instrumental thus far.
“It’s tremendous – we’re already getting so much support from the Section 9 area,” the coach said. “Bringing more college wrestling to Section 9 is something our coaches and community want to support. The phone has been ringing off the hook from kids and parents. The buzz is amazing.”
That buzz has led to an emerging roster. Kahmar said he’s shooting for 20 wrestlers in year one and currently has between 10 and 15 “solid commitments going through the registration process”. He said he’s thrilled by the response to what Sullivan has to offer.
“We’re building a pretty tough lineup,” he said. “We haven’t had a kid step on a scale yet, but I think we’ve filled most of the weights. We’ll wait and see.”
Those wrestlers will have the chance to hit the ground running with a slate that will allow them to get solid competition in their first season as members of the Generals.
“In my mind, it’s getting close to being finalized,” Kahmar said. “I think we’re putting a great schedule in place that will challenge our kids and strengthen them.”
Kahmar expects to compete on around 12 dates, with a mix of opens, invitationals and tri/quad meets. He looks forward to a trip North during which the squad will square off with Southern Maine and American International and then stay in Maine the following day for a tournament. He also mentioned working on the details for a quad meet with Springfield, Nassau and Niagara as well having grapplers take the mat at the East Stroudsburg and Wilkes Opens.
Putting together what the inaugural campaign will look like has occurred rapidly with the help of many, including prominent Section 9 alums such as Joe Pistone, Rocco Mansueto and Steve Garland.
“Joe Pistone sent a letter to coaches at the Junior College, Division II and III levels to introduce SUNY Sullivan one morning at 6:30,” Kahmar said. “When I looked at my phone around 8, I already had a lot of responses. Alberto Nieves from Springfield Technical Community College also reached out and has been very helpful. It all helped us build our schedule.”
Of course it’s not only a quality schedule that Kahmar is focused on building.
“Building the program from the ground up was probably the most enticing thing for me,” he said. “It will be brand new and it will be what we make it. We’ll set lofty goals because at the Junior College level, with a two-year turnover, you’re a few solid recruits away from having an impact regionally and at the national level. There really isn’t a reason we can’t be competitive in the very near future. We’re looking to get kids to nationals and to produce All-Americans.”
That’s not all Kahmar expects to do.
“I think what sold [Athletic Director Depew] on hiring me is my vision to bring quality kids into the program and create a quality schedule to showcase their talent because many want to move to the next level. We want to have kids graduate and get them into the career field of their choice or to a four-year program. That’s the goal. That’s our recruiting tool. We want kids to have great experiences here and an opportunity to move forward in a career and in wrestling.”
And for Kahmar, there’s no better place to do it than in Section 9, a place he knows well.
“I’ve been amazed at the support from those in the wrestling community,” he said. “There are coaches who will be recruiting some of the same wrestlers as us, but they have done nothing but embrace the new program and ask how they can help. We want to do our part – to grow the program, grow wrestling in general and continue to build wrestling in Section 9 and New York.”