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USA Wrestling

Mike Clayton joins USA Wrestling as its National Coaches Education Program Manager

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | March 27, 2014, 9:56 a.m. (ET)
Mike Clayton, formerly from Hoboken, N.J., has joined USA Wrestling as its National Coaches Education Program Manager. Clayton began his service in his new position on March 11.

Clayton will manage USA Wrestling’s National Coaches Education Program (NCEP) and will be actively involved in the education and development of wrestling coaches at all levels within the United States.

“The number one reason that I accepted this challenge is the opportunity to give back to the sport on a large scale. I loved the college environment, but you have a limited pool of people to serve. At USA Wrestling, I get to serve athletes and coaches across the nation. As a college coach, I had to compete against other coaches for athletes and resources. In this position, I can be a resource to all coaches. It makes me feel great to help so many other people,” said Clayton.

Clayton comes to USA Wrestling after seven years as the head wrestling coach at Stevens Institute of Technology. He has a variety of experience as a wrestling coach, administrator and leader.

“We are excited to bring Mike on board at USA Wrestling. His experience, including graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy, service to our country and an extensive and successful coaching background in the college ranks, is a great fit. He led an impressive turnaround at Stevens Tech. We are looking forward to his impact with our coaches education program. Our volunteer coaches nationwide will benefit immensely from his addition,” said Tony Black, USA Wrestling Director of State Services.

At the Stevens Institute of Technology, Clayton built a nationally-ranked program at the NCAA Div. III level. Clayton was named NCAA Div. III Rookie Coach of the Year in 2008 and was the Centennial Conference Coach of the Year in 2009.

Under his tutelage, Stevens Tech had six All-Americans, at a college which had never had a wrestling All-American before. The highest national ranking for his team was 13th. He built the team from 13 wrestlers when he took over the program to a squad with 46 athletes representing 12 different states.

During his tenure, Stevens Tech was consistently in the top 20 academically in Div. III, with a high of third place and a team GPA of 3.55. He coached eight Academic All-Americans there. Clayton was a tremendous fundraiser for the program, developing marketing programs that raised $120,000 for the program. He also developed a robust alumni network for the team. Clayton created strong ties with local and national youth programs and led his team in numerous community outreach projects.

He received the Silver Level certification from USA Wrestling’s National Coaches Education Program in 2009. Clayton was the head coach of the U.S. FILA Cadet Pan American Team in both freestyle and Greco-Roman in 2011. He is a self-published author, app developer and a contributing columnist to a number of wrestling websites.

Prior to taking the Stevens Tech position, Clayton served three years as the head assistant wrestling coach for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a Div. I program which competes in the EIWA Conference. During his years there, Army had an NCAA runner-up in Phil Simpson, an All-American in Matt Kyler, eight NCAA qualifiers and reached a Top 25 national ranking. Clayton organized Army’s first nationally ranked recruiting class. He also led marketing efforts which raised over $1.1 million in donations, grants and projects. He created the Army Wrestling Newsletter to help market the program.

From 1999-2004, Clayton was head coach at the Apprentice School in Virginia, a varsity program which competes in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA). Under his leadership, the Apprentice School had eight national champions and 30 All-Americans. Four times, Clayton was a nominee for NCWA Coach of the Year. He helped build the program from eight wrestlers to 35 athletes during his tenure. He achieved this while holding down another position as a teacher at Northrop-Grumman’s tech college.

In 1995, Clayton was an assistant wrestling coach and aide to the Assistant Athletic Director at the U.S. Naval Academy, a Div. I program in the EIWA. He helped coach two Navy wrestlers to All-American honors while he was there.

He also brings extensive professional experience serving in the U.S. Navy. Clayton was Logistics/Purchasing, Supply Officer in Williamsburg, Va. from 2000-2001. He was also HAZMAT and Ship’s Store Officer for the USS NIMITZ in Newport News, Va. from 1998-2000. Clayton served as Disbursing Supply Officer for the USS GUAM in Norfolk, Va. from 1997-1998.

Clayton graduated with a B.S. in political science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1995. He graduated from the U.S. Navy Supply Corps Officer’s School in 1997. Clayton added a master’s degree in business management from Stevens Institute of Technology in 2011.

He has served in a variety of volunteer and leadership positions. Clayton has been a volunteer for Beat the Streets Wrestling in New York City, and was a founding member of the Doug Zembiec Memorial Wrestling Club. He was a member of the Stevens Office of Veterans Affairs, the Stevens Athletics Hall of Fame Committee and an advisor to the Stevens Athletics Environmental Program. Clayton is certified in speed reading and lean manufacturing.

As a competitor, Clayton was an NCAA Div. I national qualifier for the U.S. Naval Academy, where he received the Weems Award, given for determination, effort and leadership. He was a 1995 EIWA finalist and a three-time EIWA placewinner for Navy. In Olympic freestyle, he was an Armed Forces silver medalist and all-Navy champion. Clayton placed at a 1996 Olympic Regional Trials, and was in the top 16 at his weight at the 1996 U.S. Freestyle Open. He was a 1992 Espoir Nationals Freestyle All-American. As an Iowa high school wrestler, he was a three-time state qualifier and an Iowa state freestyle and Greco-Roman champion.

“I would like to improve the coaching certification and education process. It has come a long way in the last decade. We have a great format, and I hope to help expand it. I plan to serve as a liaison between our national coaches and staff to the high school and volunteer coaches. My goal is to provide coaches with more information on training, conditioning, nutrition, psychology and more. Ever since high school, I have focused on these areas and studied our sport. Now to have a chance to help pass it on is an honor and a huge responsibility,” said Clayton.
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