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Gripping grappling changes

MINOOKA — For the second time in as many years, there has been a change at the top of the Minooka wrestling team. What was set in motion two years ago when venerable coach Bernie Ruettiger stepped down, concluded this past offseason with the return of longtime assistant coach Jeff Charlebois. Charlebois, who has been the head coach in Oswego the past two years, replaces Paige Schoolman after his one-year stint at the helm.

"One of the most important things is getting Jeff back into the program. That's huge," Schoolman said recently. "I'm glad he came back and is part of this program again. He's been a big part of what we've been missing the last couple of years."

Schoolman has exited the wrestling program all together this winter and he said that it was due to a number of factors.

"I just thought for me personally that it was a little bit too much. I mean, being a varsity football coach is a seven day a week job from the end of the school year on. Then it goes straight into wrestling. It just got to be too much," he said. "I got married (this summer) and have a child on the way, but I wouldn't want to say that was the reason. Still, I do have other things to think about in my life right now. There are other priorities in my life that didn't exist before."

In turn, that opened up a priority for Minooka athletic director Bob Tyrell in that he once again was looking to fill a void in the wrestling program.

"Basically when the season ended, we talked some and coach Schoolman thought he might go that direction," Tyrell said. "We have a ton of respect for him and we let things settle down at the end of the season. Then we got the process of getting things going for this year."

Charlebois said that he was aware of what was going on at the time of the transition and immediately threw his hat in the ring for the job.

"I was in contact for a while. I knew that Paige was going to step down. The communication came relatively quickly at the end of the season," Charlebois said. "Relatively soon after the season it was in motion and fortunately, I had a lot of people here who wanted me here and we're campaigning for me. That was instrumental in me coming back. I won't say it was an easy decision to make. I felt there were a lot of good things going on at Oswego, it just felt like the right move. To come back and lead the program that coach Ruettiger built is a nice feeling. From my years here, it helped me become a better coach."

It should be noted that Ruettiger is still in the program, back for a second year as an assistant coach.

"Coach Ruettiger is obviously a staple in our program and we're thrilled he's staying around," Tyrell said.

Ruettiger, Charlebois and Schoolman were instrumental in helping make the Indians a powerhouse wrestling program over the past decade, which made Tyrell's decision to bring Charlebois back an easy one.

"Jeff had been in our program, so we knew that we had a great candidate there," Tyrell said. "That position came open a year ago and he was a guy who knew our system and has contributed great things to our program over the years. We're happy to have him back."

The place where he is expected to make the biggest impact is working on technique with the Minooka kids.

"He's all about technique, technique, technique. Jeff's hard nosed and we know we are going to wear people out with his approach," Ruettiger said. "The way we used to do it. I'm glad to have him back because he's one of the best coaches out there. If the kids can buy into what he's doing, and I think they are, we can be pretty good. With Jeff, it's not about where we start, it's where we end."

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