Coach Kochakji is the man of the year on 2016//Luis Ari lopez Wei

Coach Kochakji is the man of the year on 2016//Luis Ari lopez Wei

By Lucia Rubi Godoy, Online Editor

Wrestling Coach Ed Kochakji was named “2016 Man of the Year” by the NJCAA National Tournament. Having been nominated to the Hall of Fame by the NJCAA two years ago, this is the first time that Coach Kochakji is named Man of the Year.

“Each region nominates a coach that has helped out wrestling and helped out kids, their team, and has shown a great interest in the sport. Being an advocate for the sport of wrestling,” said Coach Kochakji, “I guess they liked what I was doing at the college, with my student athletes, over the years,” he added.

During his wrestling career, which started when he was in seventh grade, Kochakji was champion for the State of New Jersey three times, and a two-time Outstanding Wrestler All-American in College. Besides coaching, Kochakji is a teacher for Bergen County schools. He is a CIE coordinator and does job placements for students for the Bergen County Special Services and Bergen County schools.

After coaching at Bergen for over 30 years, Kochakji retired on March 15, leaving the team in the hands of Chris DiSanto, who works at the testing center and had volunteered to help the Coach out for two years.
“I’m sure the program will be in good hands in Chris’s hands,” he said. “I’m gonna continue teaching, and probably just not coach for a while, it takes a lot of time and effort. I’m getting older and I think this is a young man’s game. I believe coaches should be young to be able to relate with the student athletes,” he added.

When he was asked what advice he would give to young wrestlers, Kochakji said, “Wrestling is a type of sport that you do it for 24 hours, you gotta be fully dedicated.” “It’s a way of life,” he added. The coach explained that training, diet and discipline all play important roles on a good performance.

“As far as coaching, it’s about the kids. What you put into a program, is what you are gonna get out,” said Kochakji. “If you put a hundred percent in, you’ll have a good team. And if students keep their grades up and show dedication and come to practice, everything will work out fine.”