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The timing couldn't have been better for Greg Perry to return home and run the Norwich Free Academy wrestling program.
Shortly after Perry, a 1998 NFA graduate, was hired as a health teacher at his alma mater, he learned that head coach Roy Wentworth had decided to retire.
To say that Perry wanted the job is an understatement.
"I jumped at the opportunity to try to get the head coaching position," Perry said Wednesday. "It worked out really well."
NFA athletic director Gary Makowicki officially announced Perry's hiring on Wednesday. Perry was a four-year varsity wrestler for the Wildcats and served as an assistant wrestling coach from 2001-03.
"I am excited to announce the hiring of Greg Perry as the new NFA wrestling coach." Makowicki said in a released statement. "Greg brings a great deal of experience, enthusiasm and commitment to the wrestling program. He understands the tradition and philosophy of the athletic department and will be an outstanding addition to the coaching staff."
Perry, who lives in Waterford, has been involved in wrestling from another angle. He's served as a high school official for the last three years, including working a few NFA matches.
He remains active, too, running a mixed martial arts dojo in Taftville. He also teaches wrestling to children.
Judo came before wrestling in Perry's life. He began judo when he was six and eventually became a junior national champion. He competed for the Kwang Moo Kwan judo club.
"A lot of great wrestlers at NFA and Killingly and Ledyard came from Kwang Moo Kwan judo club," Perry said.
Perry had an accomplished wrestling career at NFA, placing at the Class LL meet his junior and senior years. He competed in the 103, 119 and 125 weight classes.
He's looking forward to continuing the proud wrestling tradition at NFA.
"It's a program with quite a history, so I just want to do everything that I can for the program to keep the dignity and respect that this program has earned and bring this program as far as possible," said Perry, who graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University.
His new teaching job at NFA gave Perry the chance to return to coaching. He spent the last nine years teaching health and physical education at Riverview Hospital in Middletown.
"I always felt I might get back into (high school coaching) if there was an opportunity," Perry said. "The job that I had previously, the hours never worked out where I could coach at the high school level.
"Now that I'm working at a high school and getting out earlier, I can do that again. I've worked with kids and adults as well at mixed martial arts dojo, so I never really left coaching. … I've always been working or teaching people either judo or wrestling."