BELOIT - Joe Clothier will have a special interest in the strength of Beloit Memorial High School's wrestling program from now on, but to be honest, he'd like to see every Purple Knight be a star in the weight room.
Clothier has been the school's strength and conditioning coordinator since early spring and he has also added head wrestling coach to his credentials. His predecessor, Stephen Jacobson, left the district over the summer for a teaching and coaching position in Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
"I'm really trying to develop a culture here in all sports revolving around weight-training," Clothier said. "That's an amazing college-style weight room and we also have a top-notch fieldhouse. We have the facilities. We just have to make sure we put them to good use."
Clothier, 31, is a physical education teacher at BMHS, with his specialty in strength and conditioning courses. He has head coaching experience, too, with three-year stints at both Burlington Catholic Central and Lake Mills.
The past few years, Clothier has been an assistant at Hononegah High School where he worked with future University of Iowa D-I heavyweight Tony Cassioppi.
Clothier's own credentials as a wrestler are terrific. He was a four-time WIAA state meet qualifier and a two-time state champion.
Clothier won his first state crown in Division 2 at 135 pounds as a sophomore. After finishing third as a junior at 140, he capped off a 30-0 senior year by defeating Kyle Pasek of Mishicot, 14-1, for a major decision and the Division 3 title at 145. Clothier went on to wrestle at Division I Northern Illinois University.
Clothier, who began wrestling when he was in kindergarten, knows the value of a strong youth system to a high school varsity program.
"I'm well familiar with the Beloit Area Youth Wrestling Club," Clothier said. "Doug Clark has been doing a nice job with that. My first goal is to get the numbers up in our program. It seems everywhere you have a large group of kids starting out at the elementary level and it's difficult bridging that gap to middle and high school. I really want to target that. Get those seventh and eighth graders to keep excited about wrestling and stay out."
Clothier considers himself fortunate to have two exceptional assistants returning in Joe Oberneder and Stuart Ritzert.
"Joe has a lot of experience," Clothier said. "He's been a head coach himself and right now he's spending a lot of time with the football team. He'll be working with our lighter weights. Stuart will be teaching at the high school and that's always important to have somebody working in-house. He'll be working with our heavier weights."
Clothier said he appreciates BMHS Athletic Director Joel Beard's "one for all" philosophy and hopes it helps in building up his wrestling program.
"Joel doesn't want coaches to just focus on their own sports," he said. "If you have a kid playing football and you can get him to come out for wrestling he's going to be a better athlete and he's going to help both programs."