Fisheye Wrestling Wins State Championship – Interview with Coach Jeff Fernandas
As told to CriticalBench.com by Steve Konopka
I’m here with Jeff Fernandas the head coach of FISHEYE WRESTLING in SIMSBURY/GRANBY CT
Q: First off congratulations on one heck of a season! Let’s go over all the state and New England placers from top to bottom because it’s pretty impressive!
Thank you…the team put in a lot of work to earn their success.
We started with 19 wrestlers at the qualifiers in Southington. 14 qualified for the state championships (top 16 in each weight class). Out if those 14, 7 made the finals. 9 state place winners in all that qualify for New England’s.
Zach johns – Intermediate Divison – 80 lbs-State Champion...also voted by the coaches as the OW (outstanding wrestler) of the tournament of that division. Season record 49-4.
Alexis Adams aka Lulu – Intermediate Divison – 75 lbs- 4th place 1 of two females to place at the State Tournament Season record 44-15
Ryan Finn – Novice Divison – 60 lbs 5th place..Season record 27-25
Ty Finn – Novice Divison – 75 lbs Runner upSeason record 42-8
At 95 lbs we had an all FishEye Final between Liam burnette – Novice Divison – 95 lbs runner up
Season record 36-13
Logan Fleming – Novice Divison – 95 lbs 6th State Champion..Season record 37-10
Hunter Adams – Novice Divison – 100 lbs State Champion – also voted by the coaches as the OW
(outstanding wrestler) of the tournament of that division. Season record 57-5
Miguel Gonzalez – Middle School Divison – 136 lbs-runner up Season record 49-7
Cooper Fleming – Middle School Divison – 112 lbs-runner up Season record 42-14
New England’s – held in North Andover mass. Top 5 in each state qualify. 6 of our 9 that qualified, placed.
Zach johns – Intermediate Divison – 80 lbs-runner up ..
Ryan Finn – Novice Divison – 60 lbs 6th place..
Ty Finn – Novice Divison – 75 lbs 5th place
Hunter Adams – Novice Divison – 100 lbs – 4th place
Miguel Gonzalez – Middle School Divison – 136 lbs 5th place
Cooper Fleming – Middle School Divison – 112 lbs -4th place
We also entered two girls in to the girls state championships . Both were champions.
We entered 4 wrestlers into the mighty might state championships (5-7 years old) and had two place winners.
Max Konopka 2nd place
Gabby johns 3rd place
High school division these are kids that work with us thru out the year in their offseason and before end
of the season tournements.
Dylan Houle canton. – 174 4th place class s
37 -8 as a senior
2014 4th Class S State
Skylar lang – 220 class s state champ, 3rd at opens, 3x state place winner. With me 5 years
43-3 as a senior
109-41 career record
KJ Fernandes 138…2nd in class LL state championships as a sophomore
31-7 as sophomore
Undefeated in the CCC west 6-o
74-29 as a jr Captain
Academic all league my sophomore year
Stuart Adams – first year wrestler- 6 th place class m 132
KONO: That’s some serious hardware your team has taken in this year! I especially like the two for two in the ladies state championships. The two OUTSTANDING WRESTLER AWARDS in one state tournament is remarkable. Zach Johns in the intermediate division and Hunter Adams in the Novice division!
Q :Give us little history on yourself with your wrestling background.
I grew up in Derby CT and attended Derby high. I wrestled for buster Jadach. Buster pretty much learned to wrestle from books, never wrestling himself. He was a football star. He is currently a member of the wrestling hall of fame and holds the record for most wins all time in the state of ct.
I’m a 4 time state place winner, including a state title.
I think what’s makes derby a special place is that you grow up with one word drilled in to you from the time your 7…Pride. When I was that age I played football.
We were allowed to use the varsity locker rooms for our home pop warmer games. As you walk in, there’s a poem at the top of the stairs in large red writing titled Pride. I, As well as all of my friends can still recite it today. That one concept had the 2nd smallest high school in ct winning housy title after housy title…state titles and even a couple over team rankings all the way up until moved away. Well, you can take the boy out of derby but you can’t take derby out of the boy.
Q: Let us know about the FISHEYE program and how it started.
The program started in 2009. I had been an assistant at another program and then was asked to run Simsbury youth wrestling. I did for one year. We were based in shs and could not practice if it snowed or if there was a play etc. the wrestlers were just not getting everything they needed. It was also based through parks and recs as a club team and that’s not who I am. I wanted serious commitment..I wanted to make champions and a park and rec club wasn’t the right fit for that goal.
We left the school in April of 2009 and ran our first session in southwick mass. It started with 8 wrestlers. In typical FISHEYE fashion we went to work. The practices are grueling at times but that’s what it takes to be great. There were complaints that it was too hard and three people quit. I was questioned as to why I just wouldn’t lighten up to grow the program. It’s my goal is to make champions,
if your quitting, you weren’t a wrestler to begin with. The wrestlers that stuck it out had nothing but success. We finished that session with 5 wrestlers. The original 5- My son KJ (finished at 32-7 and took second in LL this year as a sophomore) Dan Calzerette (he finished his junior year at 22-18 never placing.
His senior year after 6 mos at FEW he finished 41-7, 3rd in LL and a MAWA National all American, wrestled Division 1 at millersville university in pa) Ben Kibby (now in 7th grade and a 2x state champ), his brother Owen Kibby (sophomore, Granby high) and Ben Todd (who earned the most improved wrestler
award at shs that year).
Q: For being such a young club FISHEYE has had some very impressive success. What do you attribute this success to especially compared to some of the other clubs that have been running for 10-15 years?
Sacrifice, hard work and details. It’s an expectation that if you are at FEW that you will attend all practices and all tournaments. You are expected to miss the school dance, ski club, etc if they contrast with our schedule. The wrestlers show up on their birthdays because they know that’s what it takes to
Our wrestlers work very hard at practice to become talented. They are pushed past their limits to realize that they can go much further than they ever thought possible. They also realize that talent gets beat when talent doesn’t work hard. At FISHEYE we believe that details wins championships and I provide those details daily.
Q: FISHEYE has such a wide range of talent and age differences. How do you push kids like Hunter Adams and the other New England placers while not got getting the 5 and 6 year olds lost?
Work ethic- that’s the common theme. Put the work in and you will get to your goals. Whether your 55-5 or 0-50, 6 years old or 17, put in the work…there’s room to improve. Our more established wrestlers set an example of what takes to be a champion. They do this by doing the right things at practice and in the outside world. The 5 year olds up to the beginning middle school wrestlers see the work ethic and discipline and they follow suit. If you train like a madman, improvement is inevitable.
Q: I personally think wrestling builds some of the strongest character traits you would want to instill in a young person today. What are some of the traits you see developing in the wrestlers on your team year in and year out?
Words like sacrifice, pride, heart, work ethic, integrity, and self respect are not just tossed around lightly in our room. They are the concepts that we build our wrestlers on. As they grow you can watch it spread out in to their lives…school, family, etc.
In this day and age of “daddy ball” and the “everyone gets a trophy” crowd, our kids know that they deserve what they earn. They battle through losses and huge disappointments to grow and become stronger. They learn to battle through heartbreak and tough times to reach their goals…like in the real world. There’s no boss out there in the real world handing out participation salaries and in the long run they will be prepared for a tough world out there when they grow up. They learn that if they want to be great they have to work for it…not because daddies the head coach.
ONE WORD ANSWERS:
Favorite takedown move?
Whatever’s being given
Favorite pinning move?
Greatest wrestler of all time?
Dan gable/john smith
Favorite head gear?
Knee sleeves or no sleeves?
You can only do one exercise in the gym to train for next season what is it?
Anything that trains that explosion needed to attack. Kono’s opinion HANG CLEANS!
Favorite food after cutting weight all season?
Win Olympic gold in wrestling or a million dollars?
Q: 30 seconds left , state title on the line! Tied score your on top you have been taking this guy down all match but he has reversed you every time! What do you do? Fight the reversal and try to ride him out for overtime or let him up and go down by one and try for the take down.
This actually happened to me. Senior year I was down 4-0 with a minute left. I reversed the kid. He gets banged for stalling. At about 15 secs he gets hit again making the score 4-3..I throw in double legs and turn him. The ref counts 1..2 and the buzzer goes off to win my first state title
Kono: Wrestlers never forget big wins or loses! I remember every single almost in wrestling!
Q: Your son ( a fisheye product) Keith is a pretty accomplished wrestler in his own right. Keith placed second at the class LL championships and made it to the quarter finals at the Ct State Opens as just a sophomore at Simsbury high school. How different is it watching your son from the stands to your fisheye wrestlers from the corner of the mat.
It’s tough. I spent all weekend at new englands. Watching say zach johns in the finals and it is nerve racking. It’s the same feeling I get watching my son idk..wrestle off at practice. Haha. He’s my blood, the person I love most in this world. It’s just different when it comes to him.
KONO : I completely understand! I think I almost passed out three times a tournament watching!
Q: One thing I have noticed at the weekly tournaments is how close the wrestlers and their families are on the teams. I mean the first week of the season my son had 20 kids cheering for him in his first match ever and I was screaming at the top of my lungs for one of the Finn boys and honestly, I didn’t even know his name at the time. Why do you think wrestlers form such a close family type of team?
Respect- they spend their days competing against each other. They know what they go through individually and I think it brings them together. As a wrestling parent, you see firsthand what they go through and how hard they work. It’s tough to not root for kids like that.
Q: At the tournaments you can see such a huge bond with parents and there kids. I have seen parents shed some tears from being so proud of their child taking the mat, getting their first take down, fighting off their back or even winning their match. It must be so rewarding watching all these kids you have coached go out there and compete with everything you have taught them.
It is great to see them succeed. We have all been through a lot in 5 years. Watching the hard work pay off is unbelievable. To see the smiles as a kid walks off that mat as heor she just completed his goal…I mean..nothing compares to it.
Q: Let’s give a few details about how the USA-WRESTLING TOURNAMENTS are run. A lot of parents may not know how the wrestlers are paired up, how long matches are or how tourneys are lined up. I think parents would be surprised how hard the coaches work to pair up kids fairly so every age and skill level gets great matches to grow and develop?
Matches are 6 minutes long broken down to 3 2 minute periods. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time but the energy expended it tremendous. Everything is run by age and weight so it’s as fair as it can get.
There times a first year wrestler may be matched up to a wrestler who has been wrestling for 5 years but they are the same age and weight. Those are the tough matches that make you better! USA CT is doing a great job providing opportunities for our youth to wrestle.
Q: What are some of the goals for the future of FISHEYE WRESTLING?
To grow a bit, to get better, to continue to dominate opponents and give our Fisheye family what they need to succeed on and off the mat.
Q: Because of the hard work and discipline, wrestling isn’t for everyone compared to a game like t-ball. So what do you say to the parents that might be going back and forth on letting their child who is interested join the team.
In this day and age of everyone gets a trophy, wrestling is providing a safe and challenging environment to learn real world skills. Goal setting, work ethic, sacrifice and learning how to get back up and continue to battle when life knocks you down. My question would be, who wouldn’t want their child involved in
that kind of program.
KONO: I agree completely. Seeing kids work hard for something and achieve goals because of their hard work is rare these days! As for the future of FISHEYE, after personally seeing practices and the team wrestling in tournaments I don’t see anything else but a growing dominance by the FEW! Well this was awesome Jeff thanks for your time and all the best in the future for FISHEYE WRESTLING.
An interview with Forest Vance…
Hello Critical Bench Nation!
Head Strength Coach Chris here and I’m excited to have Mr. Forest Vance (former Pro Football Player) here w/ me today to answer some questions about his Body Weight Strong 2.0 system.
With the kind of background that Forest has in terms of performance and strength, I’m sure all of us are curious about what makes his NEW system different from the burpees, push-ups and squats we’ve done before….and can Body Weight Strong 2.0 really add pounds of muscle to our bodies?
So enough w/ the chatter, let’s get right down to it…..
Question #1: There are several body weight programs in the fitness industry today and a majority of them focus on calorie burning and fat loss. Your program tackles (you like that) STRENGTH…is that really possible w/ body weight only exercises?
Forest Vance: Yes most definitely gaining strength is possible with bodyweight only exercises!
You have to take a little bit different approach though, than you would if you were using bodyweight training for fat loss and conditioning etc.A couple of things to start with would be using more advanced exercises – and this of course depends on the individual and their level of strength fitness etc.
And also you have to work in lower rep ranges.So if you can do, say, 50 regular push-ups, is going to be fine for endurance and conditioning, but it won’t work for building strength.We would need you to do more challenging exercises for you, and that would be maybe something like a foot elevated push-up, or a one armed push-up. These are the type of progressions we cover in Body Weight Strong 2.0.
And this way, we can make the exercise more challenging, get it to where you are challenging yourself and reaching failure in a much lower rep range.
Question #2: Your program isn’t purely body weight….meaning it does include some suspension training, kettlebell etc….What can someone do if they’re interested in the program but they don’t have access to that kind of equipment?
Forest Vance: Well I designed the program using bodyweight as the primary means of resistance … Probably the major piece of equipment you would need to really get the most out of it would be a pull-up bar.
Now if you don’t have a pull-up bar we can certainly be resourceful – we can find a pull-up bar somewhere in local park, heck, they can even nail a 2 x 4 to 3 in their backyard and use that as a pull-up bar.I’m all about being resourceful, and telling my clients and athletes that I work with with not make excuses and just get it done!
Question #3: Most times a workout w/ body weight is higher rep and you work towards failure and/or hypertrophy. That’s not necessarily the case w/ your program based on what I’ve seen. Can you explain your approach more in depth?
Forest Vance: Yes for sure, if you’re training for strength you’re going to take a different approach than if you’re training for conditioning or fat loss or hypertrophy.
Let’s take something like a handstand push-up for example. The best way to work up to exercise like this is to:
1 – practice it frequently, not going to failure, but rather learning the skill2 – not go to failure and totally burn yourself out like you would if you were going for fat loss or conditioning, but more working at a lower rep range not going to failure …
This way you can train your nervous system and get stronger and make consistent progress and practice it more frequently so you make progress faster.
Question #4: Is a program like this going to ‘take away’ or STEAL strength from traditional weight lifting that most guys still want to do in the gym?
Forest Vance: No not at all … I would say it’s a great compliment.
I personally cycle through and do heavy training with kettlebells and barbells probably 50% of the time, and then I come back to work on my bodyweight training stuff the rest of the time.I went for years of doing just heavy type training, and I’m a big guy so I’m definitely not built for this crazy calisthenic type stuff people are doing these days … so if I can do it, anybody can!
Question #5: Will Body Weight Strong help improve range of motion, flexibility and mobility? Can we expect to feel “better” throughout our body especially when it comes to soreness and stiffness in the joints?
Forest Vance: Absolutely bodyweight strong will help improve all of these things. When you train with your own bodyweight you develop such superior body control, body awareness, ability to contract muscles that you never even thought you had!
Then when you come back to doing your more traditional weight training, you get a lot of this transfer – a good example is once you learn to develop full body tension when you having a do something like a one armed push-up or a pistol squat, you can then use these techniques and body awareness etc. to apply to your more traditional weight training stuff you’re doing before.
Question #6: If I’m a beginner level lifter w/ less than a year of lifting experience, is this program too challenging, too advanced for me?
Forest Vance: I really tried to put this program together so that anyone of any fitness level could do it and benefit from it.
We rely heavily on the progressions – so for example if I’m just starting off doing a split squat – which is like a lunge variation – might be pretty challenging if I’m doing it slow with the control tempo and feeling the muscle work etc.
Maybe doing a inverted row where I had my feet on the ground I’m doing a pull-up type of motion but I’m lifting a lot less percentage of my body weight, is also challenging enough for me if I’m doing it perfectly with good form etc. to get close to failure.
If this is you this would work great to get you stronger and get you making progress.
Question #7: Explosiveness is HUGE when it comes to getting stronger and gaining muscle mass. Will this kind of training help deliver more explosive force to my lifting?
Forest Vance: For sure. Another thing that we can relate to, we come back to the body awareness, is that for explosiveness and running and jumping and sprinting etc., the ability accelerate your body fast is just as important as the ability to decelerate your body fast. For maximum efficiency of movement but also just being safe.
And that’s a big thing that you get out of this program. We teach you how to move properly first and formost.
Question #8: For the older dudes (hahaha…I’m almost 40:) in the 40-60 age range, is this type of training too hard on our joints? In other words, do the risks outweigh the benefits for more mature guys?
Forest Vance: I would say that this type of training is actually the best type of training that “older guys” should be doing.
I can tell you that I feel way better then back in the day when I used to lift heavy and do back squats and deadlifts and military presses and bench presses on a daily basis.
Now I am cycling through and still including some of the stuff, but also including a lot of the bodyweight stuff, and it has decreased my pain increased my range of motion baby much more flexible and supple and everything other things you can imagine.
Question #9: Does this program really apply to higher level athletes? Is someone in the 18-25 age range really going to benefit from training like this when barbells, dumbbells, prowlers and 40 yard dashes seem to be more important?
Forest Vance: You know honestly it does truly depend on a person’s goals and what type of sport involved in.
For people who are really trying to get gigantic and huge and swole, I would recommend including barbell work at some stage in their training.That being said, like we already mentioned, doing the bodyweight stuff is also super important to learn how to do movements properly – like for example you would want to make sure that you can do a perfect bodyweight squat and a perfect push-up before you squat and bench.
We train some kids – and when I say that I mean high school kids – at my gym, and what we see a lot of times is that they are doing things like back squat and bench presses when they can’t even do a bodyweight squat or lung or even do a handstand hold against the wall … and this is such a mistake.
We back them up and have them perfect the body weight stuff and typically see their lifts go through the roof.
Question #10: Share with us what you feel are the TOP 3 most valuable elements of your Body Weight Strong 2.0 system? Why are these 3 things so crucial to the success of this 12 week program and gaining real strength?
Forest Vance: Number one is the ability to get a fantastic strength workout almost anywhere with very minimal equipment.
Once you learn how to use your body properly and do some these advanced bodyweight movements, you can really get a strength training workout at home in your garage on the hotel room wherever – which for most people probably wasn’t possible before. I know for me personally, before I learn these techniques I’d have to go to the gym to get a great workout and I don’t anymore.
Number two is that if people like heavy training and they like training for strength and muscle, this is such a great break for their body and out and it will make them feel better and refresh and also it’ll improve their left when I do come back to doing the regular training.
Number three is it makes you such a more balanced athlete if you have control and ability to do all these basic bodyweight movements like full below parallel squats, perfect push-ups, all different types of one variations, handstand hold against the wall, etc. this is the type of training that once you can do this and ALSO be strong in the more traditional lifts … it makes you a true beast at the end of the day!
Amazing!!! Thank you so much Forest for your insights, passion and overall knowledge. Without question, this approach to strength training will yield phenomenal results and benefit a ton of guys (& gals) out there looking to drive their performance to a NEW level.
Many Thanks and Stay Strong my Friend!
By Mike Westerdal
Whether it’s due to the long cold winters or a generally more active lifestyle, Canada has a penchant for turning out some of North America’s most successful and widely-recognized strength and training coaches. Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, M.Sc., is no exception.
Hailing from Toronto, he is one of the industry’s most respected strength and conditioning coaches and is a member of the Training Advisory Board for Men’s Fitness magazine. His fat loss expertise and workout tips are featured every month in Men’s Fitness.
As a renowned strength and training coach, Craig works with a number of high profile athletes and is was a consultant to Rugby Canada helping the National Team prepare for the 2007 World Cup. He has authored numerous books and has even written a chapter on coaching for the new International Youth Coaching Association certification textbook.
Thanks to his extensive background in research, Craig stays on top of the latest cutting-edge training and nutrition strategies that help elite athletes, casual weightlifters and individuals from all walks of life improve their health and wellness, along with their physical and mental performance.
His latest work is entitled Turbulence Training 12-week Home Workout Revolution, which he specifically developed for guys who really want to get in top shape but find it difficult to get to the gym every day.
Craig has based his Home Workout Revolution on his highly successful Turbulence Training principles, which have proven time and time again to be among the most successful strategies around for building muscle while shedding unwanted fat.
Gyms are both a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, gyms are a fantastic, one-stop spot where you can perform cardio and strength training in one location. Most gyms offer a great selection of both strength training machines, free weights and cardio equipment. Some even offer classes, access to fitness trainers and other amenities such as pools or racquetball courts.
But on the other hand, for many guys they are a curse because often times, gym membership can run upwards of $100 a month or even more. Some require lengthy contracts that are nearly impossible to break.
Another problem with gyms is that due to their location or tight job or family schedules, a lot guys find it just plain difficult to work gym time into their daily schedule.
In working with countless clients over the years, Craig realized that gyms presented a major fitness hurdle for a great many individuals—but at the same time, he found that there were few practical home workout routines that would provide the results that men really want to achieve. With that in mind, Craig devised his TT 12-week Home Workout Revolution program.
In designing the program, Craig combined his very successful Turbulence Training techniques with extensive research into exercises that could easily be performed in the home without the need for expensive or bulky equipment.
The end result is a program that is built on short-burst, metabolic workouts that are the ultimate fat loss key to finally shredding the most stubborn fat and keeping it off – forever.
Craig’s TT Home training strategies are based on his 20-10 ultimate fat loss revolution system, ladder workouts, bootcamp-style workouts and more. The system includes bodyweight circuits and supersets, bodyweight/abdominal workouts, challenge workouts, ladder workouts and others.
The TT Home Workout Revolution is comprised of 12-week cycles for beginning, intermediate and advanced trainers. The in-home Revolution workouts are performed three days a week, with the assumption that you will ‘stay active’ the remaining four days—in other words, just because you train really hard for three days, it doesn’t mean you can be a sloth the other four. The idea is to stay moderately active on all days, not just training days. That doesn’t mean that you can’t rest—it just means don’t take the ‘resting’ to extremes.
Most of the routines have two different workouts “strung” together. If you only have time for one workout, then you just use the first workout shown for that day. Another great aspect of Craig’s program is that if you prefer, you can incorporate the Revolution system into your existing routine so that you can keep doing what you’re doing, while ramping up your body’s fat burning systems.
Craig does not excellent job of explaining the overall program and his descriptions of the exercise are top-notch. Even the most beginning athletes will be able to learn to perform the movements properly, just by following the directions and looking at the pictures that are included for each exercise.
Craig also includes some excellent nutrition information and a number of outstanding ‘bonus’ workouts that truly make this program not only one of the most effective around—but also a great bargain in terms of what you get for your money.
If you are one of those guys who really wants to build muscle, increase your strength, improve your flexibility and shed unwanted fat and pounds but just can’t get to the gym, then Craig’s TT 12-week Home Workout Revolution might be just want you need.