MERIDEN — Maloney is staying in-house for its new wrestling coach: 2016 grad Angel DeJesus.
DeJesus, 24, was a four-year grappler for the Spartans and became a volunteer coach for a few years. Last season, he was the assistant to head coach Joe Winoski, who stepped down after the 2022 season.
DeJesus, who wrestled as a 126 and 132-pounder, was excited about the opportunity to lead his alma mater.
DeJesus graduated in May with a degree in Criminal Justice from the University of New Haven. He works as a public safety officer at MidState Medical Center.
He started volunteering in Meriden Youth Wrestling during his senior year of high school under the tutelage of Oz Ramos. He was a volunteer assistant at Maloney in 2018 and 2019 before becoming an assistant in 2021.
DeJesus said Ramos and former Maloney wrestling coaches Matt Banas and Joe Ferreira are his wrestling mentors.
“I loved the way they disciplined me and brought me up,” DeJesus said. “When it came to giving back to the youth wrestlers, that’s where I developed the love for coaching. Then I wanted to give back to Maloney and the development of the kids.
“I went through a lot as a kid and wrestling helped me through some tough times, and I want to do the same thing for the students of the future.
“Wrestling disciplines you and forms you into a young man,” DeJesus added. “It helped me develop character. It taught me a lot about myself. I learned a lot about myself and my limits and how to push myself to new heights.”
DeJesus said education is always going to be a
priority for him with his athletes.
“I’m 24 and I’m still learning the sport,” DeJesus said. “Joe Winoski is still helping me out when I need it. I plan to reach out Coach Bryan McCarty at Platt. I have a lot of questions for him. I’m going to be a proactive coach.”
At this point, DeJesus has no assistants and is running the show completely on his own. Practice has started this week and the Spartans have more than 30 wrestlers in the room.
The season opens Wednesday, Dec. 14. The Spartans will be at home against Farmington.
“I get the opportunity to build our program into a prestigious program,” DeJesus said. “I want to put Maloney on the map. We have a young team and we have a long way to go, but I’m ready to go on the ride.”
Maloney Athletic Director Bob McKee said DeJesus is a former student of his and he’s excited to have him as a head coach.
“He has an unbelievable rapport with the kids,” McKee said. “They are very excited to have him as a head coach. Numbers have been very strong and, hopefully, that will continue as the season goes on.
“He knows the hard work and commitment it takes to do this sport and he wanted to give back to the kids. He has a lot of energy and passion. He’s eager to learn and the kids are excited to have him. The kids respect him and listen and learn.”