Unsung Hero: The Man Behind the Mats, Wrestling Head Coach Jeff Anderson
By: Michael Barba
Coach Jeff Anderson has been involved with coaching St. John Bosco Wrestling since 2005, using his experience as a former Brave’s wrestler to produce CIF Champions and many upcoming prospects.
Coach Anderson is best known as the head coach of St. John Bosco’s wrestling program, while also leading the Tribe Wrestling Club whose home is in the Brave’s wrestling room, adjacent to the weight room. But even before entering the realm of coaching, Coach Anderson was a Brave himself. He was a member of the class of ‘98 and wrestled all four years of his high school career.
Jeff Anderson was born on March 28th, 1980 in Long Beach, California and he began his wrestling career in his freshman year of high school. Over his time at Bosco, he not only wrestled but also pole-vaulted and competed in football. For the longest time, Coach Anderson also played soccer, but decided to give wrestling a shot after being encouraged by his older brother, Andrew. His brother’s encouragement would soon change his life forever.
While he was a student at Bosco, Coach Anderson achieved many significant accomplishments during his wrestling career. He became a CIF and CIF Masters Champion as well as qualified for State, which is an accomplishment most high school wrestlers can only dream of. Coach Anderson is notable because he was the first Brave to qualify for state since the twenty-three year drought of no Braves being able to qualify for the competition since former Bosco wrestler Jim Mendoza, who was a part of the class of 1974.
“I joke around and say my mom dropped me off in 1994 and I never really left Bosco. I joined Bosco Wrestling in the fall of November 1994 and I loved the challenge of Bosco and its brotherhood,” said Coach Anderson. “It always felt like home. There were a lot of great people who wanted the best for me and to see me do well. They pushed me and guided me to try and reach my potential,”
Coach Anderson continued his wrestling career after graduating from Bosco attending Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in economics and eventually went on to work in bond trading and then investment banking. Coach Jeff described college as a unique experience, especially considering he was moving to a different state for school, but it allowed him to learn how to balance responsibilities and freedom at the same time, skills he would apply to his return to Bosco.
Some of Coach Anderson’s most important and memorable moments went down at Columbia University, but he notes his most important accolade in college was being able to receive his diploma in front of his loved ones after years of hard work and dedication, traits he acquired from his time as a Brave. However, there were some events that weren’t so positive, but are nonetheless events that shaped the wonderful and inspiring person that he is today.
“I definitely have some memories that really formed me as a person. I remember watching [World Trade Center] Tower One and Tower Two on fire from the top of our dorm on 9/11″ said Anderson. “I even remember hearing the news of one of our friends being murdered and how devastating that was. It is important you have friends and family that love you to help you go through it, the good and the bad.”
Throughout his coaching career for the Braves, he has been able to form lasting bonds while accomplishing great things. Coach Anderson attributes much of his success as a coach to former wrestling head coach and current counselor Mr. Omar Delgado. He says Mr. Delgado always helped him see the bigger picture and go after what he wants most in life.
Two of his assistants, Coach Jenaro Santillan and Coach Ruben Valencia are two people he sees as very influential on the Wrestling Program. They have been working and coaching with Coach Anderson for ten plus years to the present, with both of them leaving an impact on every wrestler and on the program as a whole, notably helping to lead the program to a CIF State Runner-Up finish in 2020 and to CIF Section and Masters Championships during this 2022-2023 season.
Not only does Coach Anderson form good relationships with his staff, he forms great connections and working relationships with the wrestlers as well. Former Brave wrestlers Mike Martinez and Julian Gendreau are some great examples of that, with them being his first state and national placers when he was an assistant coach on Mr. Delgado’s staff.
To many of the wrestlers in the program, Coach Anderson is known for cracking his corny jokes during practice and tournaments to lighten the mood and to connect with the wrestlers on a personal level. Many of the wrestlers have been able to thank Coach Anderson for some of their success with him promoting their names through Bosco Wrestling’s social media pages, which have thousands of followers, helping them to compete in some of the biggest tournaments in the country.
“I feel like my relationship with Coach Anderson is really good because of how close we got with such a short amount of time,” said sophomore wrestler Nicholas Sahakian. “He has always provided us with the best gear for our team, the best tournaments to go to and, of course, he’s definitely contributed to my success by getting my name out there with all the tournaments he set up for us during our season.”
One of Coach Anderson’s biggest priorities is to see his wrestlers obtain the most experience and knowledge from him and his staff so that they can eventually carry it on to the next level. His goal is to encourage his wrestlers to experience what wrestling can do for a person and how it can change their life, just like how it did for him.
Heading into the future, Coach Anderson has many other goals to scratch off his list, an important one being to win CIF State and National Championships as a team. The Braves have managed to win individual State and National Championships, but the team title is the next landmark to reach in future competition.
Coach Anderson doesn’t just want to share the experience and success that comes with being a Brave wrestler with the boys, as in the upcoming seasons he plans to expand the program to include our sister school St. Joseph’s High School and their prospective wrestlers, too.
The position of wrestling head coach requires a tireless and constant effort, but for Coach Anderson it is worth every bit of it because it is a way of being able to give back to the school and sport that he loves. It provides, like it did when he was a student, the opportunity to not only make new friends, but to find and nurture a second family.