The onset of a new season brings about several changes, and at Lithia Springs, the biggest modification to the program is at the top with the hiring of first-year head coach, David Dalton.
Dalton takes over for former head coach Matt Robison, who has stepped down for personal reasons.
A native of Massillon, Ohio, Dalton comes to Lithia Springs where he works as the world history teacher in addition to his coaching duties. Although he’s new this community, he isn’t a stranger to life in Georgia. Prior to taking this job, he had a lengthy career as a teacher at the Paulding County Detention Center where he taught troubled youths in the area.
The adjustment to any new role can be difficult, but having an entire school body provide positive feedback has helped him adapt to life with the duel responsibility of teaching and coaching.
“We’ve had good support networks. My athletic director is very supportive. Matt Robison is still working at Lithia Springs and he’s been available to answer some questions. It’s been an interesting transition.”
Although the season is just underway, he sees potential in the team and prepping them for great run of championship glory. Among the top Lions set to unleash their roar on the mat in 2014-15 are Manny Laidlaw (182 pounds), Malik Jones (220), Justin Harris (145), Taylor Williams (192), Thaddeus Patisaul (132), Josh Riklon (152), and Michael Greer (113).
“We’re a mixed team. We have a few guys who are first-year wrestlers. We’re working on their skills. They’re going to have strong character and moral values,” said Dalton. “Justin and Manny are going to be contenders at state. Malik has the soul of a warrior and the heart of a lion. Michael has overcome so much adversity in his young life and has taken to wrestling like a fish to water.”
Lithia Springs looks to make its presence felt in wrestling circles throughout the metro area and one of its early tasks includes the Crossbone Duels at East Paulding, Dec. 6, as well as the Cross County Championships at Chapel Hill, Dec. 10, Central Carrollton Invitational, Dec. 13, and Hiram Invitational Tournament, Dec. 30.
Along with achieving success this season, Dalton aims to set a new standard for future excellence with yearlong training and camps similar to what takes place with football, basketball and baseball.
“I know football is king here in the South, but I think a lot of our communities and a lot of our boys are well served by being in wrestling. I’d like to see this expand and not just be something in the winter,” said Dalton.