SALEM-Tim Smith never thought he was head-coaching material until his son Charlie fell in love with with wrestling.
United junior Charlie Smith-the only member of the Eagles wrestling team-pinned Jarred Cox of Canal Fulton Northwest at the 4:34 mark to win the 285-pound weight class in the Davidson Memorial Saturday at Salem High School. Smith's win came as all the others have since he started wrestling-with his father in his corner.
"It's great having him travel around with me," Charlie Smith said. "It's something that allows us to spend a lot of time together."
"He knows way more about wrestling than I do," laughed United wrestling coach Tim Smith said. "I'm not really the coaching type, I never wrestled in high school I'm just the chauffeur, I'll only coach him if need be."
Smith began wrestling in fourth grade as part of United's youth wrestling program and has wrestled ever since. The high school has never established a continuous wrestling program, but Smith never considered transferring to another school just to wrestle. He wanted to stay at United where his friends were.
"A lot of kids probably would have left," Tim Smith said, "But he wanted to stay, so we had to figure out what to do."
Though he had never wrestled before, Tim Smith coached his son all the way up to high school and became the de facto wrestling coach. There have been a few other participants over the last couple years but this season it is just Charlie. Football coach Mike Ward-for whom Smith is a two-time letterwinning lineman-volunteered to line up tournaments for Smith. After school, Charlie packs his things and heads over to Minerva High School to train with the Lions team.
"I don't know what exactly it was about wrestling that drew Charlie in, but he's run with it since day one and we've been fortunate to have some nice people help us along."
The sport also provides a chance for father and son to bond.
"It's a lot of hours in the car together," Tim Smith said. "It's been a very nice, very enjoyable experience. I'm glad I've gotten to be a part of it."
On Saturday, Smith and Cox were locked in a tight battle until Smith promptly took control early in the third period. He has won several regular season tournaments and finished fifth in the district tournament last season. He has his goals set even higher this year.
"I want to get to state," Charlie Smith said. "I did a lot of weightlifting in the offseason and I feel a lot stronger this year."
"We don't normally start in December because it takes him a little while to change over from football, but I think it's helped this year," Tim Smith said. "He already finished second at East Liverpool and it was nice to break through with a win here. I wouldn't get too far ahead and look at state yet, but it's a nice start and we should take it one day at a time."