Bloomingdale High School wrestling coach Mark Church was named this year’s Joel Medgebow Memorial Wrestling Coach of the Year. He was presented the award at the Hillsborough County School District meeting on March 30. The award is given yearly to honor the memory of Robinson High School wrestling coach Joel Medgebow.
Church took over as head coach this year at Bloomingdale after serving as an assistant for the last five years. He decided he could not leave the athletes after the previous coach, Dennis Kitko, moved overseas.
He not only didn’t leave them, but he also led them to victory. Ten wrestlers competed at regionals, six wrestlers competed at states and four wrestlers finished the season as state medalists. Church is also the assistant girls’ wrestling coach.
Sara Bogue, Bloomingdale High School’s athletic director, said Church teaches resilience.
“Coach Church has done a phenomenal job with our wrestling team. It has been exciting to watch him turn a really good program into a great program. He challenges the boys to be better wrestlers every day, and they have responded,” Bogue said.
The wrestlers have benefitted from his strong work ethic.
“Coach Church is a great coach because he is always there for us ready to work. He always pushes us to our limits, and he helps us learn from our mistakes,” said junior wrestler J.R. Singer.
Coach Church focuses on conditioning and teaching basics. He credits the wrestlers, administration and parents that believed in him.
“None of it would have been possible if it weren’t for the kids who believed in me as much as I believed in them, especially as a first-year head coach. I was honored from day one that the admin, coaches, wrestlers and parents all entrusted me, which allowed me to keep it simple and just focus on wrestling,” Church said.
“It was definitely humbling to receive such an award from my fellow coaching peers. It’s also really cool to have my name on the same trophy with my mentor and coach — the legendary Russ Cozart,” Church added.
He wrestled under Cozart at Brandon High School. Church was the 1995 state champion for 112 lbs.