Hobart High School head wrestling coach Jason Cook talks about these four markers along the “Brick Road.”
Cook says the culture of Brickies wrestling is built on overcoming obstacles.
“You don’t get better until you have to overcome challenges,” says Cook. “I’m not going to wait for things to knock me down. I’m going to look for challenges. In life, it takes a lot longer. You can’t do it on a wrestling mat.”
Cook admits that he’s not a patient man and wants to see constant improvement.
“I’m a teacher and a coach and I get to watch people improve all the time,” says Cook, who teaches English and is his second season of guiding Hobart’s wrestling program.
Four Brickies who are working to overcome adversity and excel are brothers Nathan and Trevor Schammert and Cristian and Ruben Padilla. All four competed Dec. 27-28 in the 42nd annual Al Smith Classic at Mishawaka. Sophomore Trevor Schammert (113 pounds) came in second in his weight class and improved to 20-1 on the 2019 season. Sophomore Ruben Padilla (11-4) placed seventh at 120. Senior Nathan Schammert (17-5) came in eighth at 126. Junior Cristian Padilla grappled on Day 1 at 132. The Brickies placed seventh in the 32-team event.
Cook, who is in his second season leading the Brickies, sees similarities in the brothers. But they are really four distinctive personalities with their own mat approaches.
The coach describes Nathan Schammert — the oldest son of Mike and Darcy Schammert — as “a kid who’s going to find his own way to win matches.”
“He’s definitely got the funk,” says Cook of Nathan. “I don’t think anybody’s looking forward to him as a matchup.
“When Option A doesn’t work, he’s got about 15 other things he can do.”
Cook notes that he was one of the smaller wrestlers on the mat as a senior and has steadily grown as he career has progressed.
“Now that he’s the athlete he is, he can hit some explosiveness things,” says Cook of Nathan.
Nathan says its work ethic and all the time spent since he was just beginning school and competing with the Hobart Wrestling Club that has helped get him to where he is now.
Mike Schammert is a former Brickies wrestler and he gives his sons mat advice.
“He tells us to be ourselves on and off the mat,” says Nathan Schammert. “I just go out there and let it fly. I don’t hold back.”
About the time Nathan hit junior high, he started developing his funkiness. He has his favorites, but not really a go-to move.
“People really don’t expect me to do the things I do,” says Nathan Schammert. “I just go out there and do what feels right. If I feel something, I hit it right away. I don’t wait, I just go.”
“I just used to to my advantage.”
Nathan Schammert enjoys showing the way to teammates — freshman and cousin Devin Wible (120) among them.
“I definitely consider myself a leader,” says Nathan. “I just try to set a really good example and be the best role model I can in the (practice) room. I want the younger ones to learn from me — my mistakes and my strengths.”
Hobart went 11-3 and advanced to the IHSAA Class 4A northern semistate in football. Seven defensive starters — safety Nathan Schammert, deep back Hayden Homoky, lineman Alex Pickett and linebackers Bobby Babcock, Mark Mummey, Cameron Smith and Tyler Turley — are on the Brickies wrestling team this winter.
“That defense was something to watch,” says Cook. “It was amazing.”
Nathan Schammert makes the correlation between the mat and the gridiron.
“Wrestling helps me in football,” says Nathan. “I have to make (football) plays on the fly, too. A double-legged a lot of guys (on tackles).”
Cook says Trevor Schammert is especially good at working his way out of difficult situations.
“He sure is solid with his positioning,” says Cook of Trevor. “He hasn’t made a mistake in any position this year.
“He is going to make you fight your way through every position.”
Trevor says his style is not as funky as his older brother.
“I’m more technical,” says Trevor. “I’m more of a chain wrestler. I hit move after move and don’t stop. At practice, all I focus on is repetition. Building that muscle memory for when I need it."
“I’m good at a certain set (of moves) and hit those really good.”
Trevor Schammert does not believe in taking days off.
“I’m always pushing myself to the wall,” says Trevor. “I look at my goals every year and how far I want to make it in the state run and be a state placer.
“I’m never satisfied with anything. I always want to improve and get better with everything.”
Both Schammerts were in the varsity lineup for the Brickies boys golf team last spring with Nathan averaging 84 for 18 holes and playing as the No. 1 player on a squad that played its home matches at River Pointe Country Club in Hobart.
“There’s no strong connection (between wrestling and golf), but there is the mental aspect,” says Nathan. “(Golf) can break you sometimes.”
Cook has had Cristian Padilla in class for two years and coached him in wrestling.
“He’s super thoughtful and super quiet,” says Cook of Cristian. “At least when I’m around him. He’s not a real vocal guy. He leads by example.
“Everything he’s doing is with intention.”
Cristian says he enjoys the challenge of wrestling and getting better with each match and workout.
“I get support from coaches (Cook, Zack Johansen, Brian Wesley and Steve Balash) and my dad (Al Padilla),” says Cristian. “My coaches know I don’t make many mistakes. I’m setting coach with each practice so I I can improve since the last time I competed.
“We’re always working out away from the school with dad.”
Cristian and Ruben’s mother is Michelle Ramos. Older siblings are two older brothers - Al Padilla (who wrestled for Merrillville High school), J.P. Padilla (who played soccer at Merrillville) and Yazi Padilla (who played volleyball at Hobart). The youngest Padillas are twins Bella (who competes with the Merrillville wrestling Club) and Julian.
Cook says the biggest difference in Cristian and Ruben is that Ruben will stir the pot a little bit.
“(Ruben’s) a little bit of an instigator,” says Cook. “Ruben will say stuff to his drill partner. Cristian is silently working all the time. Ruben Padilla describes his approach.
“I like to push people when I wrestle them,” says Ruben. “I push the pace."
“I use my quickness to my advantage. A lot of guys I face are stronger than me.”
At the same time, he is grounded.
“I stay humble,” says Ruben. “I respect all of my opponents. These are things that wrestling taught me.”
The Padilla brothers also play baseball. They split time between junior varsity and varsity last spring — Cristian as an outfielder and right-handed pitcher and Cristian as a middle infielder. In the summer, Cristian played travel ball with Highland while Cristian was with the Schererville Shockers.
“(Baseball) helps with working as a team,” says Cristian. “Like with our dual meets.”
Ruben takes lessons learned on the mat and applies them on the diamond.
“Wrestling helps me be better at baseball,” says Ruben. “It’s things like toughness and being humble.”
Cook is a 2002 graduate of Valparaiso High School. His senior year was the last year as Vikings head coach for his father and Indiana Wrestling Hall of Famer John Cook, who amassed a dual-meet mark of 361-112 from 1977-2002 with 35 state qualifiers.
Jason Cook, who went on to wrestle at Purdue University, said he benefited in high school from having his father serving as director of the High School Division of National Wrestling Coaches Association (which he did from 2002-2010) because he was among the first wrestlers to be introduced each year to new rules changes.
The younger Cook was familiar with Hobart wrestling from a young age because he often went against those kids at club meets. Later, he saw them in Duneland Athletic Conference meets.
While the Brickies are no longer in the DAC (they are now Northwest Crossroads Conference members), the schedule still includes all but Michigan City from the Duneland. Hobart sees Lake County rival Crown Point in a dual meet on Friday, Jan. 7. The Brickies faced Merrillville in the Pirates’ Tom Cameron Invitational and saw Chesterton, Lake Central and Valparaiso in the Hobart Super Duals, Portage in Lake Central’s Harvest Classic and LaPorte at Mishawaka’s Al Smith Classic.
“It’s a stepping stone to the second half of the season,” says Cook of the Al Smith Classic. “Holes in your game will be exposed and it will be really obvious what we need to work on or you can get a big confidence boost if we see what works.”
The Lake County tournament is Jan. 11 at Hanover Central. The Northwest Crossroads tournament is Jan. 18 at Lowell.
The IHSAA tournament series for Hobart includes the Portage Sectional Feb. 1, Hobart Regional Feb. 8, East Chicago Semistate Feb. 15 and State Finals Feb. 21-22 in Indianapolis.