The Delaware Wrestling Alliance took time at an awards banquet earlier this month to recognize Indian River head wrestling coach Jeff Windish, who was honored as the Division II State Coach of the year for his leadership with the program. This distinction marked the first time Windish received such a prestigious award, but was also a first time for any Indian River wrestling coach to receive this tribute.
“It’s a great honor,” he said, “because you’re being chosen by your peers. I give a lot of credit to winning that award to my assistant coaches and the kids I have in the program.”
Windish was recognized as the Henlopen Conference coach of the year two years ago, though not at the state level until now. The division encompasses all of the smaller schools throughout the state, from Sussex to New Castle counties.
“Having the assistance that I have makes my job even easier,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with good individuals, like Steve Wilkinson and my brother Jerry.” Jeff Windish has spent four years as head coach at Indian River, and was an assistant two years prior.
This year, he will lose three seniors from his starting lineup to graduation, yielding 11 starters returning next season. “I have a solid core of kids coming back and the majority of them are participating in some sort of off-season wrestling program,” he said. “As a coach, you want your kids to do that as much as they can [throughout the year] because it will improve them for the next season.
Working with the athletes each year has offered Windish the opportunity to expand their capabilities and establish bonds as both a teacher and a friend. “Each year, I set our goals a little higher,” he said, “and we’ve been fortunate enough to achieve those goals. We’re getting closer and closer to the main goal, which is to win a state championship, and we were seven points short this year. We’re moving more and more in the right direction each year. We’re trying to get a little closer, and I think we’re doing a good job of doing that.”
Despite taking home the 2007-2008 Henlopen Conference Southern Division Championship and finishing in the Delaware Division II finals this year, Windish notes that there’s more than the score out there on the mat. “I take into consideration, it’s not just about winning and losing,” he said. “I want them to be student athletes. It’s more than just on the playing field or wrestling mat. It’s in the classroom. It shows that the kids are buying into it.”