Talking Sports with new Hofstra wrestling assistant coach Dan Vallimont
Dan Vallimont, a first-year assistant wrestling coach at Hofstra University, recently took time to do an interview with The Capital Sports Report. His interview is about his wrestling career.
TCSR: You attended Jefferson Township High School in New Jersey. While at the school, you finished with a 134-9 career record. Could you talk about your high school wrestling experience?
DV: “I was a two-time State Champion, and I went 78-0 my junior and senior year. I was a three-time County, District, and Regional Champion. I also took third at Senior Nationals.”
TCSR: Why did you choose to attend Penn State?
DV: “Well, my whole family is from Centre County, which is where Penn State is located at. My dad went to Penn State, and we ended up moving to New Jersey, because of my dad’s job. We stayed there, but I grew up going to Penn State football games. It was my home away from home. My grandparents live out there, too. I grew up a big fan, so I had a wish to always go there.”
TCSR: While at Penn State, you were a two-time team captain. What did that mean to you?
DV: “It meant a lot knowing that the guys on the team and the coaching staff looked up to me, as a leader. It was important to me my junior year, especially because there were older people still on the team. It was nice to know they had faith in me to be a good leader to lead the team. That’s something I’m very proud of. ”
TCSR: During your sophomore and senior years, you were named an All-American. Could you talk about what that meant to you?
DV: “Well, my sophomore year, I had a really good year. I came off my freshman year, where I just missed it. I was just one win away from being an All-American. I went 33-8 my sophomore year – I lost to Mike Poeta from Illinois. I felt good all year – and I used the loss in the Round of 12 freshman year to motivate me. I think that’s what helped me get to be an All-American sophomore year. I won in the Quarterfinals, which placed me in the Top 6 sophomore year. That was a really cool feeling making it to be an All-American for the first time.
“My junior year was similar to my freshman year. I was just one win shy from being an All-American again, before losing it. That drove me to make All-American status my senior year.”
TCSR: You went to 4 NCAA appearances. What was your most memorable individual moment?
DV: “My most memorable moment was my senior year when I beat the reigning champion in overtime. It was a really exciting match. He had beaten me twice during the year in really close matches. It was a really emotional match, because it put me in the National Finals. Along with that, I had to wrestle on a single mat in front of 20,000 plus people in person and millions live on ESPN. That was a really cool experience.”
TCSR: What is your most memorable team moment from the NCAA’s?
DV: “My sophomore year, at one point during the season, we were ranked No. 1 in the country. We ended up losing a couple of matches, and thus losing that ranking. We were going into the Nationals, and a lot of people were counting us out. We ended up having four All-Americans, and we also had a National Champion at 189 pounds. We had the National runner up at 174 pounds. We ended up getting a third place team trophy – it was the first time we brought home a team trophy in a very long time. It was very cool to be a part of that team.”
TCSR: After graduation, did you go into the business field or just took a year off?
DV: “No, all of last year, I was just trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was helping out with the Penn State wrestling team in my free time. I was trying to decide if I wanted to take more classes for a Master’s Degree in architectural engineering. I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to be involved with wrestling or not, but I knew I didn’t want to give it up completely. During that same time, I was helping train some MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) that fight in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). I was keeping myself busy by doing stuff like that.”
TCSR: You mentioned that you helped out with the Penn State wrestling team last year. What was it like being mentored by Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson?
DV: “It was really cool. He’s one of the greatest to ever wrestle in America and the whole world. He wrestled in the Olympics, too. I also looked up to him as a kid, as a role model when I was in high school. His brother and myself actually had a little rivalry when we were younger. He actually beat me at the Senior Nationals. I was star struck that he was Cael Sanderson’s brother. And at first, it was unbelievable that Cael came to Penn State to become our head coach my senior year, but eventually that faded away. It was a great opportunity to be able to work with him. He was a big influence in my confidence to be able to take second place in the Country my senior year.”
TCSR: Could you talk about your new role as the Hofstra assistant wrestling coach?
DV: “I think it’s a great opportunity for me. Last year, I had a really difficult time deciding on what I wanted to do in my life. One day, I got a call from Hofstra’s head coach, Rob Anspach, who asked me what I was up to and if I had any plans to go into coaching. I told him that I would be interested in taking a visit out to Hofstra, and after the visit, I fell in love with the area. It felt like something that I would be interested in doing. I let him know that, and after a few months, he offered me the job. And ever since then, it has been great! It has been a huge learning experience, though, being that it’s my first year being an assistant coach in college.”
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