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Diaz brings new perspective to wrestling team

Justin Baronoff, Staff Reporter

Desire, passion, energy: these are just some of the things new wrestling coach Scotty Diaz will bring to the wrestling team this season as he replaces long-time head coach Isiah Cabal after his resignation at the end of last season.

Cabal, who was with the team since the school’s opening in 2005, resigned to spend more time with his family. However, Cabal, in addition to his regular social studies teaching job, is still involved in sports, just at a younger level.

“Being just a teacher, instead of both a teacher and a coach is like having dinner with no dessert,” Cabal said. “Now, instead of running practices and going to wrestling tournaments, I will be helping with homework and going to flag football games, as well as Jiu Jitsu tournaments.”

On June 27, the team announced Diaz as the new coach. Diaz, who has been involved in wrestling for over 16 years, finished fourth in the state qualifier as a 2003 Winter Springs graduate. He then went on to wrestle at the UCF and Thiel College in Pennsylvania. In the past three years, Diaz worked as an assistant coach at West Orange from 2012-2013 and Lake Mary from 2013-2015.

“I’m just really passionate about this sport and with that, I think this team will be successful,” Diaz said.

During the interview process, one thing that set Diaz aside from the other candidates was the history he had with Seminole County schools, both wrestling and coaching.

Even though Cabal will not coach any more, he will still be involved in the wrestling atmosphere, as he will officiate matches across Seminole County.

“I look forward to watching [Diaz] coach from a different perspective,” Cabal said. “If [he] needs help, I’ll be more than happy to lend a hand.”

Although some players were aware of Diaz being hired in the summer, most of them were not. Senior Curtis Duran knew about the hiring just like everyone else, however, he did not meet Diaz until Monday, Nov. 16 because he had to wait until the football team’s season ended on Friday, Nov. 13.

“It kind of shocked me,” Duran said. “The room will be definitely different this year, but Coach Diaz is a good coach and knows what he is talking about.”

Last season, the team finished third in districts. However, Diaz is hopeful the team can do better.

“As I sat down with Coach Getty during the hiring process, we felt that if I came on board, we could build a program that could be a part of the other successful sports here and try to win an All-State-All-Sport trophy,” Diaz said.

The team started practicing on Monday, Nov. 9. Over 30 new wrestlers came out, more than in previous years. As a new coach, with no prior relationships with the kids, Diaz started with the basic fundamentals.

“Right now, we’re only on week two of practice, and I’ve already seen the kids get so much better, and hopefully that keeps moving forward,” Diaz said.

The 2015-2016 season opened up with the annual Black and Blue Brawl on Wednesday, Nov. 18. This is where most of the new wrestlers scrimmage one another to gain experience.

“The Black and Blue Brawl is always great,” junior Derek DiBernardo said. “It gives the parents a chance to come out and see how good their kids have gotten and have a good time.”

The team’s next competition will be in the preseason classic at Lake Mary High School on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

“I think this season will be awesome,” Diaz said. “The kids have all been working very hard and I just love this school.”