New Joliet Junior College Wrestling Program Receives Grant Award to Support Equipment Costs

The Joliet Junior College Wrestling program was recently awarded a $3,000 grant from the R.E.A.C.H.E.S organization to purchase equipment for the college’s newly reinstated wrestling program. Prior to being discontinued in 1986, the program won a National Junior College Athletics Association National title in 1964 and on 11 different occasions placed in the top ten. JJC also has a history of individual successes on the mat with 11 national champions and 24 All-Americans. JJC’s wrestling program even produced an Olympian, Harry Geris, who participated in the 1968, 1972 and 1976 games. 

In order to resume the program, there were significant startup costs that included the purchase of new mats, warm-ups, singlets, headgear, and more for the new team to compete in the upcoming 2017-2018 season, which begins with the team’s first meet on Nov. 4. 

“To date, we had relied mostly on alumni support to raise the startup capital,” said Coach A.J. Blahut. “This grant money will help buy needed competition and practice gear. We would like to thank R.E.A.C.H.E.S and its Executive Director Walter Fisk for this opportunity, and for all that you have done to continue and support the sport of wrestling and its athletes.”

Since wrestling is an individual sport that requires conditioning, endurance, balance, and skill, it provides different learning opportunities than other JJC sports. According to former JJC wrestling coach Henry Pillard, many of the students who went through the wrestling program at JJC from the 1960s to the 1980s eventually became successful wrestling coaches themselves, and in turn have helped train high-achieving wrestling students at the local high school level, with many still coaching today. And their talents have not gone unnoticed, because wrestling has remained a popular and successful sport at the high school level in the local area for many years.

R.E.A.C.H.E.S. (Rewarding Educational Athletic Choices Helping Each Sport) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2007 in an effort to promote, protect and preserve the integrity of amateur athletics by providing athletic and educational opportunities to all athletes of all ages and abilities. This unique experience will provide educational, technical, and lifelong lessons for athletes, coaches, parents and fans that seek to capture meaningful, compassionate, harmonious, interesting and active lives. All profits from R.E.A.C.H.E.S. will be used to support specific needs in each sport to ensure future generations of athletes, fans, parents and coaches will continue to learn from valuable lifelong athletic lessons.

For more information about JJC’s wrestling program, contact Head Coach A.J. Blahut at (815) 280-6834 or ablahut@jjc.edu.

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