GREENE – Jason Goldman, originally from Maine Endwell and currently the Greene high school head varsity wrestling coach, is being recognized as this weeks Sports Spotlight. As a prior section IV wrestler who has returned to Chenango County to continue with his career in the sport of wrestling.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” said Goldman of his Greene varsity program and the success he hopes to have in the future. This past 2015-2016 winter season, Goldman walked in as the new head coach for Greene high school.
“When you look at the end of the season, we finished ninth out of 28 teams in division II at the Binghamton Arena (Sectionals) because we had guys that could compete. It wasn’t a bad year at all, duel meets were tough because of numbers but it's still competition. It's what we do at the end of the season that matters,” said Goldman. “It was tough for me, the new guy, coming in and building that relationship with these guys and knowing that these guys have come up through the program and put their time in. But doing the little things over the year, and putting in the work is what we focused on. I think they really took to this year trying to go all the way and they knew they had a coach that was willing to go all the way for them.”
Greene saw their top three guys: Braxton Howell, Ryan Castle, and Nate Banks compete in the sectional tournament with Castle and Banks earning third place finishes as well as Howell win a sectional title and a trip to Albany to compete at the New York State Tournament.
Coach Goldman explained that prior to coaching for Greene, he had been a wrestling coach, either a head coach or assistant coach, for many schools in the area, including: Maine Endwell, Deposit, Newark Valley, Susquehanna Valley and even Chenango Forks when he was able to work with the great Troy Nickerson.
Despite the list of schools and great wrestlers Goldman has worked with, he himself has a decorated past as well.
The sport of wrestling has found its way into nearly every aspect of Goldman's life as he has been involved in some way since he first walked in a wrestling room at the age of seven.
“My dad just asked me one day if I wanted to go down to a wrestling practice. I swear to you, the only wrestling I knew was the stuff on TV, I had the figurines and everything. So when my dad asked me I was like, 'yeah lets go see these guys jump off turn buckles and stuff.' It wasn’t what I expected at all but we stuck around and I signed up the next day and I have been involved ever since,” said Goldman. “I liked the combat, the competitiveness that is what has kept me going. I fell in love with the sport early on, and for me it is a lifestyle, almost like an art form in a sense.”
Following his high school career at Maine Endwell, where he placed sixth as a junior and earned a spot atop the podium at the New York State Tournament as an undefeated state champion as a senior at 105-pounds; Goldman elected to pursue the sport into the collegiate level.
Goldman spent his first two years at St. Lawrence University, where he openly struggled with college life and the balance of academics, sports, a job to support himself as well as a social life; ultimately resulting in Goldman walking away from the sport briefly in the middle of his freshman year.
“When I came back (Freshman year at St. Lawrence) my RA really taught me some time management skills, we sat down and blocked everything out, and I really had to do that to succeed, it continues really to today and especially all the way through college.” said Goldman. “I liked the school and I academically found a track of what I wanted to do and it was I got my degree in psychology, a very clinical background; classes were small and I wasn’t just a random number in the class, the teacher knew your name. I really liked it there, but I needed to wrestle.”
Following the two years at St. Lawrence, the wrestling program was cut from the budget and Goldman transferred to Binghamton University.
Under the coaching of then Binghamton coach Mark Gumble, Goldman ended up taking third in division III in the country at 118-pounds as a junior year all-american for the Binghamton Bearcats.
The following year as a senior Goldman returned to the mat ranked second in the country at 118-pounds but explained how for the first time he started to struggle with keeping his weight down.
"It got to the point where making weight was more important than wrestling and being in the room. I would rather be breaking a sweat than drilling and getting better. That took away from the sport for me, it was really difficult. So I talked to my coach, my parents, and some teammates, and most people thought I was crazy wanting to move up to 126, because I was ranked second at 118 in the country,” explained Goldman. “Ultimately my conversation with coach Gumble boiled down to me looking him in the face saying I want to bust my tail in the room because I wanna train, I want to get better. My goals are still the same moving up to 126-pounds, I want to be national champion I will have the same goals. I may be ranked number two, but I want to be the national champ, I see myself as the top guy at 118 so I see myself as the top guy at 126.”
Goldman fell short of his goal of being a national champion at 126-pounds as he placed fourth in the country that year.
Due to losing some credits with transferring, Goldman spent the next year assisting the coaching staff at Binghamton as he finished his studies at the college, in order to gain his degree in 1998.
Fast forward some 18-years and Goldman still hasn’t lost that itch to compete. Alongside coaching, Goldman actively participates in and regularly medals in the National and World Championships at the Veteran level in both Greco and Freestyle wrestling.
By the completion of 2016 Goldman will have represented the United States on the mat, wrestling in seven different countries including: Israel, Greece, Serbia, Bosnia, Canada, Finland, United States and this years World Championships for Freestyle wrestling will be held in Warsaw, Poland.
Even though Goldman has been competing in tournaments worldwide since he was 13-years old, he started the Veterans Circuit in 2011 when he traveled to Phoenix, Arizona for the National Championships. In 2013 the National Championships were moved back to Las Vegas where they have been held since.
“At the national level I haven’t lost yet. I have competed at 58 kilos (128-pounds) the entire time, it is the weight class I want to own. I have five Freestyle National Championships but I only have four Greco National Championships. Reason is there was one year where I didn’t have anyone in my weight class so I jumped up to 63 kilos where there were two guys, one of which was a Russian Greco World Champion,” said Goldman. “He has been the Greco 63 kilo guy at the world level, so I kind of didn’t accept my 58 kilo award to move up to 63 kilos. I did beat the other guy in the group but I got beat by the russian. He had a control arm tie that I found difficult to work around with, and he was deceptively strong. He was built strong, but its what he does with his specialty is Greco.”
Goldman explained how European wrestlers generally specify and train in one specific style of wrestling, while American wrestlers aren’t truly exposed to other styles until at least after high school, due to high school wrestling being folk style, not Greco or Freestyle. This specialty the Europeans possess can sometimes work against or for them when taking on American wrestlers.
At the World Championship level, Goldman has seen success as well, “My first year was in 2013, then every year since I have gone. In 2013 it was in Bosnia and I was the World Champion at Freestyle and I took second in Greco at 58 kilos in dramatic fashion against a russian in the finals,” said Goldman. “It ended up being 7-5 after the protest. I was down 5-3 and I hit a three-point move literally as the time went out. The Russians threw the protest block and it went up to the big screen and they reviewed so it was confirmed by the officials that the throw was in time and he landed in criteria. So I got my three points which was 6-5 and because they lost the protest I got another so it was 7-5. It was pretty much a dream to get that win, and against a Russian.”
Goldman also locked up a second in Greco that year as well; as well as claiming two silver medals the following year in Serbia after losing to an Iranian in Freestyle.
The following year, Goldman explained, “I went up to Athens a little banged up for 2015. My last night on the mats I was working out with one of the guys in here (Greene), a bigger guy, it was just a fluke thing, I ended up underneath him and tweaked a rib. As you get older the body doesn’t recover and heal as quickly. Competing in Freestyle and Greco with any injury at that level is tough but a rib injury with guys squeezing on you its painful.”
Goldman faced the Iranian again that year and did claim a bronze in Freestyle, but ultimately didn’t place in Greco, marking the first time he didn’t medal in Freestyle at the International level since he was 13-years old.
Currently, Goldman is in Las Vegas, for the 2016 National Championships, where he will look for some quality mat time in preparation for the World Championships later on this year.
Weigh-ins for the National Tournament are today, April 28, with wrestling happening tomorrow and Saturday, April 29 and 30.
“This year they are splitting the Freestyle and Greco into different countries, in Serbia and Greece they had it all in one place, but this year Greco is in Finland, and Freestyle is in Warsaw, Poland at the end of September,” said Goldman. “I don’t have the time or money to do both. When I was younger I had success in Greco, but as I have gotten older and continue to stay in touch with Folk-style at the high school level with coaching, and with all the rule changes in Greco, it has gotten tougher for me. So I do it when the opportunity comes at National and World Level, but not this year."
Goldman explained that he will be 41-years old when September comes around, “I am looking for a gold medal in Warsaw for sure, but it is a new age group for me. I anticipate having a different group of guys that I haven’t seen. I will be moving away from the Iranian now, because he will be in the younger age group still I think.”
But as for now, Goldman will be looking for a repeat performance in the Greco and Freestyle groups at the National level in Las Vegas. Coverage is being provided by FLOwrestling.org and Trackwrestling.com if anyone is interested in following along with the matches.
“I am just hoping I can get some matches out there at the National level. It is about getting some mat time, even if I have to move up, it is all about preparing for Poland ultimately. My dad goes out with me, he is the team leader since I started on the world circuit. We meet the team out there, we don’t have a coach per say because at the vet age we all just look out for each other, we're all coaches outside anyways. But my dad has made every trip with me, and has assumed the role of the team leader, which is kind of like the communicator, the organizer, and just making sure everyone is on the same page," said Goldman.
The man who ultimately nudged Goldman to get started with the sport he has fallen in love with back when he was seven years old, still stands by his side in what truly is something to be spot lighted.
“It is great to have him by my side and building memories that way with traveling the world with my dad, that is pretty cool. But to continue to compete in this sport and represent my country and be able to wrestle at this level is pretty awesome as well, I enjoy it," said Goldman.