This past week, our team at Defense Soap had our annual meeting with the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) in Easton, Pennsylvania. Our route took us through the historic I-80 for much of the trip, which gave us a great opportunity to visit five wrestling programs at the Division 1 level. We have relationships with some of these coaches and programs, but it was a great experience to tour the state of Pennsylvania meeting old friends and making new ones along our trip. Pennsylvania has a rich history in wrestling and many of the schools we visited were a part of the EWL conference, which had its last conference tournament this past season.
Where it all started
Our first visit started in our hometown of Cleveland, Ohio at Cleveland State University. CSU is the alma mater of founder and CEO of Defense Soap, Guy Sako. We have worked with the program for years and were excited when our good friend, Josh Moore, was named the head coach this past season. Along with Josh was assistant coach Boomer Fechko and newly named assistant, Clint Musser, an Ohio legend in his own right. All three coaches provided great feedback on obstacles they face and their experience with our products. Being wrestlers, we of course shared some laughs and busted chops as we often do, but we really get a look into the challenges they face with recruiting, competing, hygiene, and general program management. The staff at CSU gave us a great understanding of how we could help programs like them with our resources, both in education and hygiene products.
The next stop on our trip was to Edinboro University where we met another first year coach in Matt Hill. Matt was in the middle of his camps but was gracious enough to give us a tour or the facilities and give us an intimate look into the program and the future. He gave us some great insight to his unique challenges and how we could add value to the safety of his program and wrestlers with the resources we could offer. Matt has been very resilient in his first year and is extremely optimistic about the future of the program despite the leadership changes that have happened over the past year.
Our last stop for the day was at Lock Haven University with longtime friend, Scott Moore. Scott has been a friend to the Sakos for over a decade and was Gus Sako’s (Guy’s son) coach at the University of Virginia. Scott has been one of our most valuable resources and ambassadors for our brand and to spend time with him is always a pleasure, along with his assistant, Nate Carr Jr. We talked to Scott and Nate about our new mat cleaning solutions and we were very encouraged to see that they shared the same excitement we did about this new innovative solution.
NHSCA then Homeward Bound
The next day, our travels took us to Easton, Pennsylvania, where we met with the Ferraro family and Eric Hess, some of our close partners with their organization and events. We are fortunate to have them as strategic allies in bouncing ideas off each other and how we can collectively serve the wrestling community better. We planned our future events together and were back on the road again.
Our next two stops were new to our network, but we had a great time at Bloomsburg University with head coach, Marcus Gordon, and his assistant, Russ Hughes. Coach Gordon and Coach Hughes showed off their impressive facilities and room and gave us a great history of the rich tradition at the school. We look forward to building our relationship with them and hopefully go on a few fishing trips with them, as Coach Gordon has roots to northeast Ohio.
Our last stop before the long drive home was at Bucknell University. We were all blown away with the beauty of the campus and the quaint college town surrounding the area. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to meet with the full staff, but assistant coach, Kevin LeValley was able to spend some time with us to look over some of the programs we have in place for college wrestling teams. This was another new introduction for us and another opportunity to further gain perspective and learn about other programs.
Relationships are King
This trip was a learning experience for us here at Defense Soap. We caught up with friends and made some new ones along the way. It also showed us how important it is to build relationships and how much these relationships are valued in the wrestling community. This trip gave us a great sense of pride to be wrestlers and share all the stories we had from our own experiences and how they had overlapped with those we met. We want to thank all the coaches and programs that hosted us this weekend and look forward to extending our network even further this upcoming season.