BREWER, Maine — Eric Cole, a former two-year wrestling captain who won more than 100 matches during his high school career at Brewer and Hermon high schools, is the new head wrestling coach for the combined Brewer and Hampden Academy wrestling program.
Cole, 25, replaces Ray Wood, the New England Fights mixed martial arts featherweight champion who guided the team last winter but has since moved to South Carolina.
The Brewer-Hampden program is considered by the Maine Principals’ Association as an individual cooperative, meaning the two schools’ wrestling teams are combined for organizational, practice and travel purposes and share related costs but compete in meets as separate entities.
“This being my first year as coach, my goals are pretty simple,” said Cole, who works in the logistics readiness squadron at the 101st Air Refueling Wing of the Maine Air National Guard based in Bangor. “I want the student-athletes to work hard to attain their personal season goals and enjoy themselves doing so.”
Cole brings nearly a decade of volunteer and assisting coaching experience to the post, most recently at Hermon High School and with the K-8 program on which his two oldest sons, 7-year-old Aiden and 4-year-old Zachary, participated.
Cole and his wife, Megan, also have a 10-month-old son, Eric III.
Cole began his wrestling career as a high school freshman at Brewer High School before he transferred to Hermon.
He placed fifth at the Eastern Maine championships as a sophomore, then finished second at the Penobscot Valley Conference championships at 171 pounds and fourth at the regional and state meets as a junior in 2006.
He served as a team captain for the second straight year as a senior at Hermon, where he won the 2007 Eastern Maine Class B championship at 171 pounds and placed third at the state meet.
Cole finished with 106 career victories on the mat and was named his team’s most improved wrestler in 2005 and most valuable performer in 2006 and 2007, as well as the outstanding wrestler at the 2006 Hermon Christmas tournament.
Cole began his coaching career while in high school. He and many of his teammates coached local K-8 wrestlers for three years, once the high school season ended. He then went on to serve as a volunteer coach at Hermon High School for two years after he graduated.
“I plan to promote the importance of school first, sports second,” he said. “It is of the utmost importance to me that my student-athletes are committed to their education. Finally, while wins are what we compete for, my ultimate goal is for our team to be known for its excellent sportsmanship.”