North country native Kyle Windover finds himself back where it all began. He’s working in high school wrestling, serving as an assistant coach and enjoying the sport that he loves.
But the school is much larger, the stakes might be even higher, and he’s quite far away from his Lowville home, about 1,700 miles to the west.
Windover, a 2011 graduate of Lowville Academy where he wrestled, played soccer and baseball, is working as an assistant coach for the Chatfield Wrestling Club in Littleton, Colorado. Next school year, he will spend his first season as an assistant coach for the Chatfield High School wrestling team. This week, he is flying to Fargo, North Dakota, where 12 members of the Chatfield Wrestling Club, a mix of boys and girls athletes, will compete in the USA Wrestling Junior Freestyle National Championships at the FargoDome. The event runs from Friday through July 22.
“I’ve always loved coaching kids and just getting back to a sport like wrestling, it’s such an amazing sport,” said Windover, who wrestled for Lowville in the 96-112 weight classes. “It’s a very mental sport as well as a physical sport. Seeing them excel at that level, it’s always going to help them.”
Windover, 29, is returning to the sport for the first time since his days at SUNY Morrisville when he would spend his college breaks helping Lowville wrestlers prepare for postseason meets in sectionals or states. Windover, who lives in Littleton and works in medical sales, said he returned to coaching five or six months ago, landing at Chatfield, a 5A-size high school with a total enrollment of around 1,800 students.
Despite the class-size difference, Windover said he’s experienced similarities between the wrestling communities at Chatfield and in Lowville.
“The parents and coaches are just as tight-knit and welcoming,” he said of Chatfield. “Everybody’s super supportive. As far as the wrestling, Colorado is still up-and-coming. New York State is still better, one of the best states in the country.”
Windover stressed that girls wrestling is much more prevalent in Colorado, and Chatland has produced four state champions in girls wrestling. His responsibility when coaching in the nationals at Fargo, as a member of the Colorado national team staff, will be working mostly with the girls on the team.
While in Fargo, Windover might come across some north country participants as he knows that Dylan Morrison of Gouverneur will be coaching at the nationals for the New York team, as well as Chris Adams, an assistant at Carthage. Gouverneur wrestler Zoe Griffith is a participant in the girls competition. Griffith, an incoming sophomore, finished third at the Virginia Beach Wrestling Nationals in March. Zoey Jewett, an incoming freshman at General Brown, is also slated to wrestle in the girls competition, Windover said.
Windover recently joined the Chatfield club in a wrestling camp at the University of Nebraska, which has produced 11 national champions.
It’s exciting and heady stuff for someone who didn’t start the sport he loves until 10th grade, but Windover, who moved to Colorado four-and-a-half years ago, has experience with top-of-the-line wrestlers. At Lowville, he was teammates with Brandon Fayle, a three-time sectional champion at 285 pounds, and returned to the school to help assist Isaiah and Micah Roes during their sectional title quests.
Windover is eager to coach in the national tournament and also to return to high school coaching in a new environment, yet a familiar setting.
“When you’re from a small town like Lowville, you really have to develop that work ethic and drive,” he said.