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Same old, same old for new

Sandburg head coach Eric Siebert

By Curt Herron

Eric Siebert doesn't really see himself as the new head coach at Sandburg. As far as he's concerned, he's been in that role for the past 10 years.

That's how long the former national champion at the University of Illinois and state champion from LaSalle-Peru has coached at the Orland Park school.

"I think the fact that (former head) coach (Mike) Polz always made me feel like it was us together, how we coached and came together and stuff, that things will be no different," Siebert said.

Throughout that time, he had the privilege of working with one of the best in the business, Mike Polz, a coach who earned honors as the nation's best.

The team of Polz and Siebert helped the Eagles to great success during the past decade, capped off by the public school's dream run of three straight titles from 2005-07.

"Obviously this is a pretty fortunate situation for me since I came in and served under a coach like Mike Polz for 10 years," Siebert said."He's a personal friend and a family friend, so being in that situation for the past 10 years has obviously been an amazing learning experience."

Polz will remain with the program as an assistant coach. The Eagles should remain among the state's elite for some time to come.

During his 16 years as head coach, Polz posted a 342-44 mark with the Eagles. During the past 10 years, Sandburg went 227-21 under Siebert and Polz.

"Yeah, my name will be on the line now and I'm going to be doing most of the paperwork," Siebert said. "But when it will be time for Sandburg to step onto the mat, it's going to be us coaching the same way.

"We think the transition has been seemless. Mike's still obviously very much involved, so things will be no different than in the past. We coached together and we're going to continue to coach together."

What amazes Siebert is how well he and Polz were able to work together in establishing a program that was regularly recognized on a national level.

"A lot of times regardless of what sort of level you've been to in the sport of wrestling, whether as an athlete or coach, you'll find that philosophies are obviously going to tend to differ," Siebert said.

"But what's really a unique story in itself is that Mike and I have always been on the same page, even though we've come from two different time periods. It's just been such an easy thing to do, I guess.

"He can talk to a kid and I can talk to a kid and we each handle a situation individually. We come to find out that we handled it exactly the same."

But it was more than just Mike Polz and Eric Siebert that made things work. Both coaches also relied on others to help create the special program.

"To make it even more unique, it wasn't just Eric Siebert and Mike Polz, but it's literally been the Polz family and the Siebert family," Siebert said."You've had Mike, his father, John, and Mike's brother Danny, who works with us. Then you have me and my brother, Tony. So it's like a meshing of families that have made up the Sandburg wrestling family."

After years of practicing in a balcony of the school's gymnasium, Sandburg has now taken over another gym and finally has a real place that it can call home.

Pictures and bracket boards from the three state championship squads serve as a testament to the Sandburg system that Polz and Siebert have successfully managed so well.

"I think the belief in the system helps," Siebert said. "All they have to do is turn around and look at the wall to realize that the coaches know what they're talking about.

"The kids believe in the way that we coach, the way that we teach and how we try to motivate them. You have a proven winner and it's easy to take notice and continue on with that."


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