Updated Tue, Feb 18, 2014 10:58 am
Step into an Ohio wrestling practice and see the team running laps, cutting through the dank air of the dim practice room. Notice the short and stocky man with the scraggly beard and sweat-stained t-shirt. The veteran wrestler’s sharp voice echoes off the white, cinder block walls as he hounds his teammates, demanding they push themselves further.
It’s time for live wrestling and a younger wrestler, tired and out of breath, points to the stocky grappler. He nods and the two pair up to spar. Ohio’s head coach booms a “GO!” and their match begins. Their hands on each other, they tug and pull as they circle around the mat. The younger wrestler takes a shot to gain control of the match but his fatigue fails him. His opponent, still fresh – and quicker for it – counters and is in control now. The match wasn’t exactly even because the bearded man wasn’t running or conditioning with the rest of his team.
He doesn’t have an upcoming match. He doesn’t have to make weight. Those aren’t his teammates and he is not a student-athlete. He is assistant coach Germane Lindsey.
Rewind a few years back and see Lindsey in the same poorly lit and humid room. This time the spongy, green mats give way to his feet as he is the one running laps. This time his beard is a bit thinner but his shirt is heavier with sweat. This time he is a student-athlete.
After graduating from Ohio in 2011 Lindsey thought he left Bobcat wrestling behind, but three years later the former 141-pounder is a Bobcat again, coaching the Green and White.
“I came back because I firmly believe that you have to give back to your alma mater,” Lindsey said. “If you really have school pride and you like the place that you went to then I feel like you need to give back to that.”
After graduation, Lindsey intended to take his degree in integrated social studies to teach high school history. Eventually, he did, but after a slow start to his life outside of Athens. First, he stuck around Athens as a volunteer assistant coach for Joel Greenlee’s Bobcats during their 2011-12 season.
Finally, the Cincinnati-native did leave the Bobcats behind him and went back home his other alma mater, Archbishop Moeller High School. There he taught history and helped coach the Crusaders to a top four finish at the Ohio State Wrestling Tournament in 2013.
“I really wanted to focus on teaching and I like giving back,” Lindsey said. “The best way I can do that is through wrestling.”
Though he was away from the Bobcats, Lindsey and Greenlee stayed in contact. When Moeller’s season concluded, the two discussed Lindsey pursuing his master’s degree at Ohio to advance both his teaching and coaching careers.
“We talked on and off about it for months,” Greenlee said. “But when [former lightweight coach] Quincy Osborn left it turned into, ‘Hey, we really want you to come back. We’ve got a position for you and you’re going to make a little more money,’ … It worked out great for us because he could get a salary and his degree along with it.”
Lindsey was offered a spot as a graduate assistant in June of 2013 and became a salaried coach in August.
“[Coaching] is one of the few jobs that you can achieve joy in what you do,” Lindsey said. “A lot of people chase the money. Coaches and teachers don’t make a lot of money. So, when I wanted to take this job I knew I wasn’t going to make a lot but it always comes back to giving guys a chance to reach their dreams.”
Ohio’s new addition made his presence known immediately as he put the Bobcats through intense offseason workouts.
Lindsey works the Bobcats hard, because hard work built his wrestling career.
“I think Germaine Lindsey reached All-American status because of his work ethic,” Greenlee said. “He is probably one of the hardest workers I have been around.”
“I mean he was an All-American for a reason,” Ohio 157-pounder Sparty Chino said. “His work ethic is parallel to no one that I have ever met.”
Becoming a Mid-American Conference champion and attaining All-American status was a dream come true for Lindsey, who said he thought about them daily before he finally reached those goals as a junior.
His senior year did not shake out quite as favorably.
Lindsey was slotted as the No. 1 seed entering the MAC Tournament and looked to be in prime shape to make some noise at the NCAA Tournament. Less than a pound came between Lindsey and his All-American defense as just a few ounces disqualified from him competition and effectively ended his college wrestling career.
Now, he is using his experience as a coaching point.
“I was a MAC champ when I was here, and I want all the guys here to experience the same thing, plus more,” Lindsey said. “I want to help guys capture MAC-titles, All-American status and national titles.”
The biggest asset the former Bobcats brings to Ohio wrestling is his youth. At 24, he is only a few years older than Ohio’s wrestlers and easily relates to them.
“He pushes me a lot and he pushes me in ways that other coaches wouldn’t be able to do because he is young,” Ohio 149-pounder Tywan Claxton said. “He’s only a couple of years older and he just went through the grind so he kind understands what we’re going through right now.”
Lindsey’s youth helps him to be savvier than most coaches when guiding wrestlers off the mat. He says his understanding of new-aged social media like Twitter and Facebook allow him to share insight on what is and isn’t appropriate for student-athletes to post on their accounts.
Being just a few years removed from college life, the assistant coach also knows what distractions come with the lifestyle of a college student-athlete. More specifically, being a Bobcat himself, he knows the specifics of life in Athens. With that knowledge he can better help Ohio’s wrestlers deal with any distractions and keep them on the straight-and-narrow.
“Besides being a wrestling coach my job is being a mentor to guys and keeping them on the right path,” Lindsey said.
He is also still in great wrestling shape, which allows him to scuffle with the Bobcat lightweights on a daily basis.
“My responsibility is being on the mat and being a mat-rat for our guys to help them with their confidence and just helping them getting a good workout,” Lindsey said.
He considers his youth as an obligation to get on the mat with Ohio’s grapplers. Facing off with them adds a crucial element to his coaching ability and gives Ohio wrestling an edge.
“You look around the room at other colleges and most don’t have guys that can wrestle their guys,” Lindsey said.
Wrestling his guys has helped him learn that athletes differ. Whereas most coaches can only observe their wrestlers in action, Lindsey is a part of that action. Drilling helps him get a better feel for an athlete’s abilities. He can recognize their strengths and weaknesses, improve the strengths and fix the weaknesses. Chino says practicing with Lindsey has improved his physical and mental strength, his endurance and overall toughness.
“It’s a test of your will pretty much,” Claxton said about wrestling with his coach. “He doesn’t stop, he just keeps going. He pushes you and there is no other way of putting it ... When I wrestle on the mat now I don’t feel like I will ever lose, which is how you should feel after you train with an All-American.”
His All-American status is an extra benefit to Lindsey’s coaching clout, and a motivator to all Bobcat wrestlers.
“To see someone go through our program and succeed and to see them come back – it shows that success can be achieved anywhere and especially at Ohio University,” Chino said.
Lindsey has proven to be invaluable as a coach, as he goes the extra mile outside of the wrestling room as well. According to Chino, Lindsey makes himself available as much as possible. The former All-American gets in extra workouts with his wrestlers, even on top of their daily practice. He also can offer a more cerebral approach to the sport, as he often breaks down film with the team.
“He is very emotional and that’s a good thing,” Chino said. “I know that he really cares about me and he really cares about what I’m doing on and off the mat and you can really see it when he’s coaching us … We mean the world to him and the program means everything to him and that’s why he came back.”
“It’s giving back to a program that gave me a lot and made the man who I am today,” Lindsey said. “The most fun part of my job is helping guys get better every day.”
Lindsey couldn’t stay away from a life of wrestling and fortunately he turned that life into a living. In that dim wrestling room he grapples the lighter half of the Bobcats’ roster, and every once and a while he gets put on his back or taken down. Defeated, he picks himself up and turns a smile.
His wrestler just got better.