“We are adding to what has already been established at Lake Forest,” explained coach Smith. “Coach (Ryan) Ensminger, who has been running our club program for 2 to 3 years now, took on a more hands-on role a couple of years ago as the head instructional and technique coach at Lake Forest. Then last year he became the head coach.”
“We are also adding two new assistants at Lake Forest in Ethan Hames and Jacob Bailey,” he continued. “Coach Hames will also be the high school coach for the Bradley Pride Wrestling Club, while coach Bailey will help on all levels with the BPWC, including helping coach Ensminger with the middle schoolers.”
Hames, who helped with the Bears last season, was a four-time TSSAA state medalist, two-time champion and a former wrestler at UT-Chattanooga. "Pork Chop" Bailey earned a pair of state wrestling medals as well.
“Between my three middle school coaches, we'll have a pair of state championships and seven state medals represented,” coach Smith remarked. “We are also expecting (three-time state champion) David Graham to help us at Lake Forest as soon as he can get back in the mix. If you look at credentials and experience, there's not a middle school staff in this county that can compare to that.”
Ensminger, Graham and Hames all wrestled on the collegiate level.
“Growing up in the Lake Forest and Bradley programs has made me into the man I am today,” declared coach Hames. “I wanted to give back to the program, and do for others what it has done for me.”
“We’re excited to have them down there. It’s a big shot in the arm for the Lake Forest program,” stated coach Smith. “We’ve got a lot of support from Andy Jenkins in helping us do what we need to do to get the Lake Forest program back among the top two or three in the state.”
Coach Ensminger’s middle school club program captured the AAU state title in March.
“A lot of the Bradley wrestling success the last 10 to 15 years can traced to kids who have come through the Lake Forest and Kids’ Club programs,” he added. “Coach Ensminger has done a great job in helping us get back on the right track. Ethan (Hames) and Jacob (Bailey) returning to help the programs they grew up in, says a lot about the pride we have in those programs.”
“The best move I can make as the head of this program is to have coaches who mesh well with me, and are able to teach the kids values and what is expected of them,” coach Smith assessed. “That way I don’t have to spend time teaching the fundamentals, because they’ve already learned them. We are all one program and the more they can teach them down there, the better they’ll be when they get up here.”
Coach Ensminger says the numbers “are growing” in the Lake Forest program with between 40-50 wrestlers currently participating. “There’s a lot of momentum going on. We are in our conditioning time and then the season will run from mid-October to mid-January. The club program goes through late April and early May.”
Coach Smith has also brought in a new assistant coach at the high school level as Shane Blalock “brings a pretty extensive wrestling coaching background with him. He'll be coach (Josh) McDaniel's replacement.”
“He's coached wrestling and football at Chattanooga Central, Walker Valley and Murray County (Ga.),” the Bear mentor mentioned. “He'll be a primary assistant to coach (Justin) Anglin with the freshman/JV, plus strength/conditioning as well as helping me with administrative duties. He's very a basic, fundamental wrestler/coach and will fill coach Mac's role nicely.”