June 18, 2018 | ° F

Hard work pays off for MMA star, RU coach

From a curious spectator in seventh grade to one of the sports' premier names, Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champion Frankie Edgar cites hard work and dedication as the reasons for his success and what he preaches here on the Banks.

"My biggest advice is to never give up," Edgar said. "If you stay focused and disciplined you can accomplish anything."

In addition to his popularity in the mixed martial arts realm, Edgar also contributes to the Rutgers wrestling team as an assistant coach and head coach of the club wrestling squad.

He started three years ago when head coach Scott Goodale came on board and knew that Edgar was someone he wanted to add to his staff.

"When I first started one of my first calls was to Frankie," the third-year coach said. "I knew he was in the MMA career and he loved to wrestle as part of his training. He just jumped on right away. He has been with us since Day 1."

Since Goodale, Edgar and the rest of the staff came to Rutgers the program has taken off, highlighted by breaking the single season win record last year and a record-breaking 15-match unbeaten streak this season.

Edgar praises Goodale with the job he has done harvesting the best talent in New Jersey and turning that into a successful team.

"[Goodale] has done a tremendous job," he said. "He's a great coach and a great person. When you talk to him you see the passion. Jersey has some of the best wrestlers in the world and if you can keep them here you will have a great team and we are starting to show that."

Edgar is proof that the state of New Jersey churns out great wrestling talent. The Toms River native was a national qualifier during his time at Clarion University.

He believes that MMA is a great next step for wrestlers in the future, especially since making the Olympic wrestling squad is such a steep task.

"To be in the Olympics you have to be the No. 1 wrestler in the country," Edgar said. "With MMA there are a ton of people out there to compete against and you can really make a name of yourself."

At UFC 112, Edgar defeated B.J. Penn last Saturday in a unanimous decision in Abu Dhabi as an 8-1 underdog. He became the lightweight champion of the world with the victory and he finally saw all of his dreams come to fruition.

"It was 15 years of hard work and dedication all coming to a head," Edgar said. "Everyone who knows me knows that I put everything I had into my wrestling career, but I lost in triple overtime of the All-American round. It was great to finally get to the top."

Now, Edgar brings that winner's mentality to the Banks to help coach a squad that he believes has unlimited potential.

"I think the sky is the limit," said Edgar about how far the team can go. "We have some great people coming in and we have some real leaders both on the staff and on the team. We've got the guys now to be one of the best teams in the country."

The wrestlers now have the chance to workout and train with someone who has been thrust into the media spotlight and achieved a goal that is not too far off.

Outstanding work ethic is something that helped jumpstart Edgar's career and it is that quality that Goodale loves to see from his longtime friend and co-worker.

"I have been in this sport a long time and there is nobody that I have seen that works harder than he does," Goodale said. "I'm sure our guys try to take something from each of us as coaches, but if you can take one thing away from this staff at Rutgers, I would like to take Edgar's mindset. If you can do that, you are going to win a lot of matches."

Whether it is in the octagon or helping wrestlers achieve their goals on the mats, Edgar believes that nothing is handed to you, and you must work for what you truly want.

"People can say you deserve something, and you can deserve anything that you want," he said. "But it's not until you accomplish it, that you have finally made it."


A.J. Jankowski

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