Lehigh’s wrestling team will welcome Zach Rey, ’12, a former NCAA heavyweight champion and All-American for the Mountain Hawks, to its coaching staff this season. The Brown and White sat down with Rey to discuss his return to South Mountain.
Q: Are you excited to be back at Lehigh?
Zach Rey: I actually have never left. Since graduating, I have trained (in) freestyle wrestling, working toward my world/Olympic dreams for the LVWC, Lehigh Valley Wrestling Club, which is a freestyle wrestling club based out of the Lehigh wrestling room.
Q: What were your thoughts when you were offered the position at your alma mater?
ZR: I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Lehigh wrestling coaching staff. I have been offered other coaching positions around the country. During those times, I was happy with my training situation with the LVWC and did not want to get into coaching, but I’ve always known that I would want to coach for the Mountain Hawks someday.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about this upcoming season?
ZR: For me, I’ve been mainly behind the scenes with the Lehigh wrestlers in the weight room and at practice with them. Now that I am on the staff, I will be able to be in their corners in competitions, so being able to coach my guys at NCAA and conference tournaments makes me really excited.
Q: What are your main focuses as a coach this season?
ZR: My main focus for this year is to be as helpful toward the wrestlers on the team and the rest of the coaching staff to the best of my ability and to help raise the level of success that this program has to offer.
Q: How do you feel your experience as a wrestler at Lehigh will help you be a successful coach?
ZR: Being that I achieved the highest accomplishment in college wrestling at Lehigh, I know what it takes to get it done while studying at such a demanding academic school. From my five years at Lehigh and the six years after, I watched many wrestlers come through this program. I’ve seen stuff that works and (stuff) that doesn’t. So, hopefully, I can help the guys have a great experience while achieving their academic and athletic goals.
Q: How did your coaches at Lehigh impact your experience as a wrestler?
ZR: The main thing I took away from my coaches when I was in school is that they helped me become more responsible and a better person overall. They helped me as a wrestler with teaching me a better work ethic, techniques and discipline. If I am able to help the athletes come away with even a quarter of what I left Lehigh with, it will be a great success.
Q: What was the most memorable thing about your time wrestling at Lehigh?
ZR: The best memory I have was celebrating with coaches and the other guys on the team. Wrestling is tough, so only the people in the sport truly understand how demanding it is — that being the case, congratulations, celebrations and hugs were the most meaningful.
Q: What was your favorite thing about wrestling for the Mountain Hawks?
ZR: Being able to wrestle for the Mountain Hawks is so special and unique. Even though we are a smaller school, we have a more successful history than most of the big state schools. Lehigh is a place where they give you all the tools to become an NCAA champion. It’s exciting to be at a school where the wrestling program is so important and not lost amongst the other sports on campus.
The Lehigh wrestling team will open its season at the Journeymen Collegiate Classic on Nov. 11 in Troy, New York.