William Brown’s powers of persuasion must be at another level.
During the summer, Brown — the wrestling coach at Forestville Military Academy who spent the previous five years at Friendly — visited his good friend Sean Edelin’s house with a request in mind.
Edelin, meanwhile, who stepped down from coaching at the conclusion of last season after spending 13 years at Oxon Hill, was enjoying the second month of his retirement.
So what he was asked in their meeting came as a bit of a surprise.
“I told him I was going to become the coach over at Forestville and I wanted him to come with me,” Brown said. “I gave him a couple weeks to think about it.”
Then Edelin called Brown back and told him he was on board. And just like that, two of the area’s more established wrestling coaches joined forces to help revive Forestville’s struggling program.
“After William talked to me some and told me about the environment at Forestville, it seemed to be conducive to building a program there,” Edelin said. “We’re trying to change the wrestling culture over there.”
The previous few seasons haven’t been the best for the Knights. Last year they only had four wrestlers on the roster and the numbers have been low for a while. It’s no easy task to rebuild a program that has been nearly invisible for so long, but Brown and Edelin believe they have the experience necessary to do so.
“I could not see myself going to be an assistant for a lot of coaches,” Edelin said. “My personality, I tend to become overbearing and take over a lot of things. But William and I have very similar coaching styles and have known each other for a long time. We both believe in the same things.”
Prior to Brown’s half-decade at Friendly, he spent two years at Forestville and recently decided that he wanted to return to attempt to rejuvenate the Knights’ program. In the process, he’s received the help and support of football coach Charles Harley, who is encouraging his athletes to try wrestling in the winter to stay in top shape.
Still, it’s not necessarily smooth sailing even with the experience of Brown and Edelin in the room. Of Forestville’s 16 wrestlers on the roster, only one has any prior wrestling experience — Courtney Britton, who qualified for the state tournament last season.
“It’s been a task,” Brown said. “Everybody’s brand new, so it’s hard work. We’ve definitely been in there working and we’re just starting to see results now. They’re starting to catch on.”
While Britton (145) is the only returner with experience, sophomore Rodney Pulley (113), senior Robert McBride (195) and senior Khalil Proctor (285) all have shown promise in the early going. The newly-established relationship with the football team has paid dividends, too, in helping to increase the roster size and keep the Knights close in most dual meets. On Wednesday, Forestville downed Surrattsville, 42-24, and narrowly lost to Suitland, 36-30, in a competitive tri-meet.
With Lorenzo Johnson in place as the new coach at Oxon Hill, where the Clippers have started the season well, Edelin said he feels more comfortable settling into his new role alongside Brown.
“For me, it’s a renewal of my love at Forestville after spending so much time at Oxon Hill,” Edelin said. “I felt I was leaving Oxon Hill in a good position and two of my assistants are taking over the program [Johnson and Mark Calloway]. They were at a point where they were ready to coach on their own and that’s an exciting things with the new school [building] open.”
And while there’s no new building at Forestville, the program certainly has a new feel about it thanks to two longtime Prince George’s County wrestling diehards.