Longtime wrestling coach retires from East Grand
Special to the Sky-Hi News
Cal Cherrington, husband, father, teacher, veteran, church member — and coach to many of Grand County’s sons through the years — is retiring.
Cherrington achieved something in his life time to which many aspire; he has profoundly touched the hearts, minds, and souls of not just the young men he has mentored, but of those who will be influenced by his lessons in life. Young men Cherrington coached will impart the same ethics of hard work, discipline, loyalty, perseverance, and true grit to the young people in their own lives, and so on it will go.
“One phrase I learned through wrestling that I still live by daily is Discipline, Dedication and Desire,” said Tory Smith, Class of ‘88. “I try to live by this phrase every day, whether it is at my job, with my wife or raising my children. Wrestling has taught me how to be mentally tough to deal with real life situations and know that nothing is impossible if you’re willing to put in the time and effort that is required to succeed.”
“I have asked the wrestlers to do the possible impossible,” said Cherrington. “So what does that mean? I want each of them to achieve something that they, at one time, considered impossible to accomplish. It may be on the mat, but it does not have to be. It is all about breaking self-imposed limits. This is a great motto for all of us.”
Cherrington himself started out a scrawny 90-pound athlete upon entering high school. He wrestled as a sophomore at 98 pounds and took a lot of ribbing. But he persevered, even taking up competitive bull riding as a young man. He is a living testament to courage, determination, and sheer grit, and he stands a strong and fit 6-feet tall today.
Dedication to student athletes
Cherrington and his wife Tami met while attending the University of Northern Colorado in 1976. It took Cherrington three years to get a date with Tami, a gymnast. They married in 1980.
They began their teaching careers in Grand County, at West Grand High School and Granby Elementary, respectively. Cherrington got his start coaching wrestling in Kremmling, and then moved to East Grand where he taught social studies. He coached wrestling at both the middle and high school from 1983 – 2014, with a brief hiatus to work and travel with his son, Ben, champion wrestler, and their daughter, Erin, whose volleyball career included the NAIA Volleyball Championship All-Tournament Team. Erin earned the title of Senior Female Athlete of the Year at the College of Idaho. The Cherringtons are a family of accomplished athletes, and they buck a lot of bales during summer.
Both Tami and Cal finished their teaching careers at Middle Park High School. Cal Cherrington had since announced his retirement as head wrestling coach at the end of the 2014 season.
His dedicated career ended on a high note, with him taking two of his wrestlers, Adam Visconti and Justin Halley, to the state tournament. Cherrington watched Adam march in the Parade of Champions, reserved for guys who make it all the way to the final match at the state level.
“This takes hard work between the ears and translates to the physical. Hard work: that is what wrestling is all about,” Cherrington says to his athletes.
Over the years, Cal has coached 36 state placers, and seven state champions. He was the Colorado U.S.A. National Team Coach for six years. He was inducted into the Metropolitan League Hall of Fame in 2002, and into the Colorado Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2006.
“Coach Cherrington taught my son that ‘Champions are great every day, not just once a week,’” one parent said. “And I believe Coach’s philosophy about living with discipline, hard work and sacrifice helped prepare my son to enter the Marines as a stronger recruit. Coach created many successful wrestlers over the years, but more importantly he helped to create successful young men with integrity.”
Cherrington will continue work with his son Ben, who currently is the head wrestling coach at his parents’ alma mater at the University of Northern Colorado, at the family’s grueling summer Ultimate Wrestling Camp in Grand County, starting this June. The Cherringtons also plan to open the doors to a new cross-fit gym in Granby, this April.
“Now that is not to say that when you lose a tough match, where you wrestled hard, and there was a lot on the line, you should be unaffected,” Cherrington often said to his athletes. “You should be upset, but only for a short time and never publicly. You can feel bad after a loss, but not for long because you need to get back to work. Flush the negative and get back to work on improving weaknesses.
“We can build on the positive; we can develop young wrestlers into champions, on and off the mat.”
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