DEEP SOUTH WRESTLING: 20 Questions - Lexington Coach Derek Strobel


Derek Strobel, Lexington High School
20 questions w/ South Carolina Wrestling State Championship Coaches


1.    First off, can you list the years and schools that you have coached at in your career and all of your coaching accomplishments? (Club, Middle School, JV, Varsity, College etc…) I have been the head coach at Lexington High School for 18 years. 

This was my first job out of college.  We have made it to the state dual finals 4 times and won it in 2013.  We also won the traditional state tournament in 2012 and 2013.

2.    How did you get started in wrestling? (competing as a kid, wrestling in MS/HS, or your kids got you involved etc…)

I started wrestling in 7th grade because my brothers wrestled the year before.

3.    What were your accomplishments in high school, college, etc…?

I was a state champion in high school and went on to wrestle at Clemson University.  I started for Clemson my redshirt freshmen year.  When Clemson dropped the program I transferred to Appalachian State.  I was a 2x Southern Conference Champion and 2x NCAA Div. 1 qualifier.

4.    What is your favorite memory in wrestling so far?
 Winning a team state title because we were so close before and didn’t.

5.    What are your expectations for your teams this year?

Our expectations for the most part don’t change from year to year.  Our goal is to compete at a high level against all of our competition and to get better on a daily basis to put ourselves in a position to compete for a state championship.

6.    Can you highlight some of your wrestlers on this year’s team and your thoughts on them?

Jacob Brasseur is a returning state champion that has put in the time and effort to possibly break the all times win record at Lexington.  Nick Kalmanowicz is a senior that has been in our line up off and on for the past 2 years.  He has beaten multiple state placers and we look forward to having him in as a permanent starter.  Ryan Kerr was also a starter last year that got injured so we lost him halfway through the season.  He is back and ready to go.  

7.    How big is your high school team? (MS, JV, Varsity or just high school kids etc…)

We have MS through Varsity

8.    Do you have any recruiting tips for helping young coaches out there who are starting teams or coaching for the first time to recruit wrestlers for their team? 

A good coach doesn’t always have to have the best athletes.  You are there to COACH.  Wrestling isn’t for everyone.  Some people are scared, some make excuses, but the ones that stick it out….work with them. That’s the kind of kid you want.

9.    What does your preseason look like in preparation for the upcoming season? 

We either lift or wrestle 4 days a week.

10.    Now what about your in-season, any specific training you do different from others or things you focus on more?

Nothing really different from anyone else.  The big thing is knowing your athletes and when you can push them or give them a break.

11.    What does your off season look like in the spring/summer?

We go to off season tournaments, camps, duals, etc… along with lifting and practice 3 days a week.

12.    Do you have specific diets for your wrestlers during season?

And what about after they make weight, what do you have your athletes put in their bodies after weigh-ins? Carbs and water.

13.    How do you feel about the new rules regarding the two piece uniform? Are you in favor of it? Is your team going to wear them? Do you think it will impact recruitment?

I am totally in favor of it.  I think that if a kid doesn’t want to wear a singlet he won’t come out.  Now that excuse is gone.  Once they get involved with wrestling the singlet won’t be an issue.

14.    What do you think of the new rules for getting near-fall and pins out of bounds? What strategies will you go through with your athletes about the team techniques & situations in this area?

The less we stop the match the better.  I think it will make kids wrestle on the edge more and it will make kids more aggressive on the edge.

15.    Give us your thoughts on dual sport athletes or do you think kids should specialize in sports? 

I think that if you are young and you are only doing one sport you are doing yourself a disservice. Studies have shown that kids that play multiple sports do better than kids that specialize.  Once you get up in to high school (10th-11th grade) if you know this is what you want to do or you are way better at a certain sport than fine.  You need to work in breaks from the sport though.  

16.    Has wrestling improved in the state of South Carolina over the years? Why do think this?

Yes it has.  I think coaching has gotten better as far as more coaches that have actually wrestled and not just some football coach getting a paycheck to do it.  I also think the amount of youth wrestlers getting national competition has helped our state.

17.    What is the most difficult thing you face as a South Carolina high school wrestling coach?
Lack of support from student body.  Because of that, many kids could care less about coming out to wrestle.  The other thing is kids quitting.  Its to easy for kids to just quit now and its ok.  It’s not ok.  Once you quit, it becomes easier and easier which is not a great habit to have.

18.    Should there be a limit on the number of matches that wrestlers can have during the season? Or should it be the number of dates a team can compete? Explain. 

I like the date thing.  We never use all of our dates for the varsity team. You can get plenty of matches the way tournaments are structured now a days without having to use 16 dates.  Plus that is a lot of weigh ins for your kids.

19.    Who is going to be the top teams in the state this season? Top individuals?

Well on paper the teams that have a lot of returns and state qualifiers are the ones that are given the nod in the rankings.  Eastside, FT. D, West Oak, BHP.  But you never know what happens throughout the season. What teams jump levels, who gets hurt, etc….

20.    What is one question you would like to ask other successful coaches like yourself in our state?

What do you do to make sure your kids get to a college that they want to go to and wrestle? How often do you email or text those coaches?  When do you start that?

About Jim Baxter

Jim Baxter is a former coach and nationally published recruiting analyst with more than three decades in the industry. He founded SCVarsity.com as one of the first high school sites on the Rivals.com Network, most recently with Yahoo Sports. He is the author of the best selling "The Book On Evaluating Football Players" and is the host of the South Carolina High School Scoreboard Show on 107.5 The Game. He has operated the oldest independently run combine, coached for the Nike Football Combines and Elite 11 since 1999. He has served in the past on the broadcast crew in both radio and TV for the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, as well as the North-South All-Star game. He was a member of the coaching staff for the 2015 Max Emfinger All-American game.