STRATFORD—After seven years of leading a high school wrestling team, Dan German has decided he’d like to lead an entire town.
The former Stratford High wrestling coach stepped down earlier this spring to focus his attention toward running for mayor across the river in Milford.
“So, if I win in November, I will not be able to coach, and they would need to find somebody way before that to take over,” German said.
Stratford athletic director Tony DeAngelo didn’t have to look far to find the Red Devils’ next coach.
German’s assistant, Brandon Tomlinson, has been named the program’s head coach moving forward.
“I come from the Stratford, so the wrestling program really means a lot to me,” said Tomlinson, a 2011 graduate of SHS. “My end goal is to build it back up to what it used to be and make it special for the kids.”
During his senior year at Stratford, Tomlinson finished fourth in the 140-pound division, qualifying for the State Open championships.
He broke his hand in training, though, and was unable to compete at Opens, but admits the lessons he learned in the sport stay with him today.
“I can relate to how the program made me feel and what it did for me,” he said. “It was an outlet for me. I really enjoyed it, going to practices and creating that bond with my teammates. It made me tough. It helped me a lot in my later years, too, and now even with my career and how hard I have to work to succeed. It’s like anything, the more work you put into it, good things come from that.”
Tomlinson, along with returning Stratford assistant Jordan Miron, has joined forces with Bunnell head coach Sean Sloat in starting a new PAL youth wrestling program to help build interest in the sport.
“We want to get the kids some experience and a good foundation for the sport,” Tomlinson said.
Stratford athletic director Tony DeAngelo said he was pleased to bring in a Stratford alum to lead the Red Devils.
“I’m excited he’s a Stratford graduate,” DeAngelo said. “He’s close to the program and has a lot of pride in Stratford High School. Brandon brings a lot of enthusiasm for the program and did a tremendous job last year as an assistant coach.”
For German, moving in a new direction came at the right time.
“I enjoyed coaching at Stratford these past seven years, although this year was tough because our facilities were cut out and our mat time was limited,” he said, referring to SHS’s on-going construction and tearing down of the old school. “To really get better at wrestling, you need a lot of time on the mat. Hopefully, next year, they’ll get it figured out.”
German said he was proud to take wrestlers who joined the program and put four full seasons in and making them competitive.
“It is always interesting to see who joins the team and for whatever reasons and it’s a challenge to keep them there for four years,” he said. “If they stick it out and work hard for four years they will do well, usually.”
One of those wrestlers who did stick it out—heavyweight Sergio Ferreira—won a state championship under German’s guidance.
“He’s a very knowledgeable coach with a great background and pedigree,” DeAngelo said of his outgoing coach. “He was an asset to the program and did a good job developing a lot of wrestlers, like Sergio.”
While German will be away from the mats come next winter, he’ll always been fulling for the Stratford team, he said.
“I wish the kids good luck for the next season and I will be there to support them from the bleachers,” he said.