Banks elevated to head coach at Western New England

Ted Banks fell in love with wrestling before attending Griswold High School, where he became a state champion.

Today, seven years later after graduating in 2005, he remains passionate about the sport. He still wrestles in the amateur ranks.

Banks is coaching, too, being elevated from his assistant's role to head coach at his alma mater, Western New England University in Springfield, Mass.

He's come a long way from when he first took the mats as a sixth grader.

"I really loved wrestling a lot," Banks said. "I got into it in when I was in sixth grade and (my love) kind of never left. It was almost to the point of obsession. I didn't have really the understanding that I would have liked in high school, but I had a love for it and that's what propelled me."

"There's definitely a very deep love there."

Banks, 25, really never left Western New England after graduating in 2009 with a bachelor of arts degree in history. He spent the last three years as an assistant coach. During his college days, he was a three-year captain and competed at the 157- and 165-pound weight classes.

When coach Anibal Nieves left, Banks was the logical choice to take over. He has had previous head coaching experience with the Silverback Wrestling Club of Windham and the Massachusetts National Freestyle team.

"Always a leader by example as evidenced by his unwavering commitment to our student-athlete ideal during his playing days here, Ted has been a significantly positive presence for Golden Bear Wrestling," athletic director Mike Theulen said in a released statement.

"Ted is highly respected by our entire coaching staff and by his wrestlers. He has the ability, the knowledge, and the energy necessary to be highly successful here. We look forward to his leadership as the wrestling program moves forward into a new generation."

Going from competing in college to coaching was a natural progression for Banks. He first became an assistant at Western New England so he could continue to train at a high level for his amateur career.

The Griswold native travels as far as Arizona for tournaments about once a month. He's won several medals in the 74 kilo weight class, including silver at competitions in Toronto and New York in 2010.

He still takes his amateur career very seriously.

"I train every day, twice a day," Banks said.

He hopes to build Western New England, a Division III school, into a consistent winner. A strong senior class will form the heart of the team this upcoming season.

"I want to bring Western New England back beyond where it was," Banks said. "It used to be a top 15 program every single year. ... We have a pretty tough team coming back. I'm very confident in those guys."

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