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Lesson learned in first collegiate practice propels wrestling coach’s career

The first instruction former Manchester wrestler Kevin Lake received from his college coach, Tom Jarman, was “bring your running shoes.” The freshman mentally prepared for a physically grueling introduction to college wrestling. But when Lake and his teammates arrived for practice on the Division III campus, instead of readying for a conditioning session, they all piled into a U-Haul. The Spartans spent their first practice assisting an elderly woman as she moved from one home into another.

Before becoming the Manchester wrestling coach, Kevin Lake developed young wrestlers in underserved communities through the nonprofit Beat the Streets Los Angeles. Submitted by Kevin Lake

“That was my very first sport experience at Manchester,” Lake says. “That really set the tone for my experience as a student-athlete, and that recurred many times over.”

A 1998 Manchester graduate, Lake began his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach at Central Michigan, followed by stops at MacMurray, Princeton and South Dakota State. During his time as an assistant coach at Fresno State, the school dropped its wrestling program, opening a door for Lake to give back in another way. He became the program director of Beat the Streets Los Angeles, a nonprofit that uses wrestling to develop youth in underserved communities. Lake expanded programming from four pilots to more than 20 program sites serving 700 children in his four-plus years with the organization. As he trained Beat the Streets coaches, his own passion for coaching was reignited, leading to his return to Manchester as the head wrestling coach in 2015.