Leroy Vega Takes the Helm at Calumet College
On February 15th Calumet College of Saint Joseph in Whiting announced that they would be starting a wrestling program for the 2009-2010 season.Â CCSJ is a four year college in Northwestern Indiana that has an enrollment of just over 1,000 students.Â The Calumet College Crimson Wave currently offers 19 sports that play at the NAIA level nationally.Â The CCSJ athletic program is not even 10 years old, but has grown by leaps and bounds since they played their first athletic contest November 1, 2000.Â With the announcement of another wrestling program in the state, came the anticipation of who will lead the Crimson Wave.
On April 14th, CCSJ announced that local wrestling legend Leroy Vega was hired to lead the Crimson Wave.Â Right out of the gate CCSJ became a legitimate place for a high school senior to continue his wrestling career.Â Vega comes to CCSJ with quite a long list of accolades.Â At the high school level Vega won two Indiana state championships and won Junior Nationals in Greco and freestyle as a senior.Â Vega continued his wrestling career at the University of Minnesota where he earned All-American honors three times, while the Gophers captured two national titles during his junior and senior seasons.Â After graduation, Vega remained in Minneapolis as an assistant coach for the Gophers for two seasons under the tutelage of coaching great J Robinson.
After graduation, Vega and his wife moved back Portage to give back to the already tradition rich wrestling area of Northwest Indiana.Â He has played a key role in the success of many of the region's elite wrestlers over the past few years while running his own wrestling facility.Â This past season Vega took on a lighter load coaching to spend more time with his family, but when the Calumet College job opened up, it peaked his interest.Â Vega commented "I have always dreamed about being a college head coach.Â When this opportunity popped up in the Northwest Indiana area it was a dream come true for me and my family."
When asked about the rest of staff that will be assisting him Vega said, "At this point we are interviewing local coaches to help build a championship team.Â It is very important to me to hire someone who has the same goals and visions that I do."Â While the staff may not be set in stone just yet, the schedule is coming together nicely with the first dual meet in Calumet College history scheduled for November 10th at Wabash College.Â Other matches that are on their schedule include the Michigan State Open, Little State Tournament, Midwest Open and Midwest Classic.Â Vega stated that he plans on assembling a competitive schedule from the start.
Calumet College will be only the fourth school in Indiana to offer wrestling scholarships, which will be a huge recruiting tool.Â Â In response to the difference between NAIA and NCAA competition Vega said, "Really there is not much of a difference between NAIA and NCAA.Â We actually have the same rules when it comes to wrestling.Â We will be wrestling against many tough Division 2 and Division 3 schools in dual meets."Â One neat thing about the NAIA level is that teams can take 12 wrestlers to the national tournament in 10 weight classes.Â This means if a wrestler is not a starter, they can still go to nationals and even become an All-American or National Champion.
According to Vega, the wrestling facilities are top notch at Calumet College and they just built a new athletic facility to host duals and tournaments.Â This is one selling point that will help keep some of the best wrestlers in the area.
Once hired Vega immediately hit the recruiting trail, going after seniors not only in "da region," but also across the state.Â He has already signed wrestlers from Highland and state powerhouse Perry Meridian and looks to ink some other studs in the near future.Â Vega was scurrying around the fairgrounds at freestyle state just last week scouting out not only this year's seniors, but also the upcoming top wrestlers in the state.Â There is no doubt that many wrestlers will be looking to continue their wrestling career a Calumet College.
Lastly Vega commented, "I am working hard to build a wrestling program that will compete at the national level."Â He also is very excited to get started and has learned a lot about building a program from the ground up from his college coach J Robinson.Â Calumet College is lucky to have landed a coach like Vega to lead the program from the beginning.Â Look for big things out of the Crimson Wave from the get go, as Coach Vega and crew will make a major impact on wrestling in this state.