It’ll likely be the last time you see Jack Medley donning a wrestling singlet, but the Michigan Wolverine team captain is far from finished giving his all to the sport of wrestling.
From the non-qualifying years to National Champion runners-up in the team race, Medley is wrapping up a career with one of the widest spectrums of emotions on record. The icing on the cake is unwritten. A National Championship or a team title would be the perfect end, but when it does come to a close, Medley already knows how he’d like to start the sequel.
The same grit that makes him a D-1 athlete on one of the top schools in the country, mixed with his ability to push himself day in and day out while leading from the front and motivating everybody around him has made him a Michigan team captain, but Medley thinks it can lead to much more.
“I want to go on and coach in college,” Medley said. “I want to be around these high-level programs and eventually I want to build, own and operate my own high-level wrestling club. I’ve been around the sport of wrestling my whole life, I know all of the things it has given me in terms of opportunities and lessons learned. I’m very grateful that my parents put me into it at a young age.”
Medley’s love for Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan has made it easy to give it his all for the past six years, and will make it hard to walk away from one day in his hopes of coaching. He never wants to wear a different color but has never had a problem earning what he wants.
Where a lot of highly skilled wrestlers may fall short when it comes to being a coach or captain, Medley already has a tight grip and understanding. He’s not preparing himself to go into a wrestling room and lead a team by brute force and loud orders.
“I think there’s probably different challenges for each level of coaching,” Medley said. “If you’re coaching a Division One team, those guys are there for a reason. They’re recruited for a reason, and they have a level of wrestling needed to achieve greatness. More so for them, it’s about fine tuning each individual. Everybody has their own personal style, their own way that motivates them. As a coach you’ve got to understand it’s not just one athlete that’s the same as the others. I think the biggest thing is making an impact on each athlete’s lives and creating an authentic relationship with them, being a mentor. I think that goes beyond just wrestling.”
One of Medley’s current inspirations for leading a team comes in the form of Michigan assistant coach and former UFC fighter, Kevin Jackson.
The MMA pioneer would not only win the UFC 14 light heavyweight tournament, but also fight for the first 205-pound belt in UFC history in his incredibly short career after bringing home Olympic, Pan American and World golds.
Medley has the privilege of knowing Jackson not as “the UFC fighter” but as the coach and mentor who lives his life to make a difference on the careers of wrestlers, and not to tout his toughness and glory days at the pinnacle of combat sports.
“He’s one of the great, great representatives and ambassadors for the sport of wrestling,” Medley said. “Wherever he’s been, there’s been achieved success.”
Because of coaches like Jackson, leaders like Medley and life lessons you can’t learn anywhere else, regardless of what careers wrestlers excel at after their time on the mat is done, there’s a reason they’ll always be wrestlers first.
“I just think what the sport teaches you is different than what any sport teaches you,” Medley said. “I’m a fan of Michael Chandler and his story and how he started on as a walk-on at the University of Missouri and ended up being an All-American. Now he’s one of the top guys in his division. He’s gone back to his roots of wrestling. I think what’s so special about it are the relationships and brotherhood you make with your teammates. Things are tough, but you guys are all suffering together and choosing to do it. The values and lessons you learn from the sport stick with you for the rest of your life. With that comes a sense of gratitude for those lessons.”
Before Medley calls it a career and begins the hunt for his coaching career, he’s got one more run in him, and the next stop is at UFC FIGHT PASS’s Battle At Bragg.
Catch Battle At Bragg Friday, November 11, LIVE from the historic Fort Bragg, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!