Wrestler turned coach teaches hard work, discipline and pride


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  • Livingston coaching his wrestlers at SIR Photos provided




  • Livingston with his mentor and SIR founder Shawn Hall



By Laurie Gordon

— Wrestling teaches great discipline and pride. William Livingston, of Hampton, embraced those principals as a stand-out Kittatinny Regional High School wrestler, an All-American for Centenary College and now, as the owner/director at Skill is Power (SIR) Wrestling.

Founded in 1996, SIR Wrestling was started by Shawn Hall, who was originally from the wrestling motherland of Iowa and came to New Jersey because of a job transfer. He was a former high school coach and a two-time All-American from Coe College, in Iowa.

“He and his wife were looking for homes in the area and found their home in Fredon,” Livingston said. “He slowly started to work with some kids from Sparta and he realized what a hotbed for wrestling he was now in.”

Word spread about Hall and his coaching ability, and he opened space in his basement at his home. More kids became interested, and the basement was no longer enough room. He then had a garage built and put a loft on top where the new space for wrestling classes would continue. Around 2010, Hall built SIR to approximately 100 kids from K-12th grades. This made him look for a bigger space, and seven years later, SIR is still at the same facility in Lafayette.

Livingston started with Hall and SIR around sixth grade when the program was still located in Hall's basement.

“To this day I give [Hall] so much credit for my development in the sport,” Livingston said. “His knowledge of the sport is second to none. The skills he instilled in me was big reason for the success I had in HS. Not only my success but the team’s success as well. For a good six year period the whole Kittatinny wrestling team attended SIR, and I truly believe that was a big reason why I was apart of four straight team State Title run.”

Livingston's high school career was exceptional. He was a four-year starter, four-time District Champ, three-time Region Champ, and four-time NJ State place winner. His high school career record was (wait for it) and astounding 144-12.

After Kittatinny, Livingston went to college first at Ohio State, transferred to Virginia Tech, and landed, after another transfer, at Centenary College.

“Honestly, I was young and immature when I first went on to college and made some mistakes,” he said. “Being far from home didn’t help either. Everything came into place when I came home and attended Centenary in Hackettstown. I became a better student and was more focused on achieving the goals I had set for myself after high school. Those goals were to, obviously, graduate with a degree but also become a National Champ.”

Livingston graduated with a degree in History and in addition to heading up SIR, teaches eighth grade Social Studies at Pope John Middle School. He was also hired there as the Assistant Wrestling Coach.

“I fell a little short of my goal of becoming a National Champ,” he said.

But what he did do with his wrestling was certainly nothing to scoff at. Livingston was a two-time All-American and Centenary's first in the program's history.

“To get there, I had to work hard every single day,” he said. “Whether it was practicing in the room, lifting weights at the gym or getting out for a run, something was done everyday to make myself better. That gives you the best opportunity to reach those goals, knowing nothing is guaranteed.”

Moving closer to home reunited Livingston with Hall.

“When I was at Centenary, I started helping Shawn out by running some classes for him and started to get interest in private training,” Livingston said. “After I graduated, I started helping [Hall] out a couple days a week and that gradually turned into me being there on a more full time basis.”

Unbeknownst to Livingston, it was a dream of Shawn and Lisa Hall to move out west, continue their careers and eventually retire in Montana.

“When he told me he was moving, he basically asked if this (SIR) was something I would like to continue and take over,” Livingston said. “I agreed to take it over and here we are.”

SIR works with kids from about second/third grade through twelth grade. Currently, Livingston has two other coaches helping him run the club. Steven Churchill, a Newton Graduate, coaches the elementary program and Nick Francavilla, High Point Graduate, runs the Middle School and HS program.

Livingston is a newlywed and his wife, Kelly, is very supportive with the club.

“She helps wherever she can when I ask her,” Livingston said.

“SIR tries to best prepare our athletes for the future,” Livingston said. “We try and give them the opportunities to wrestle some of the best competition in the country with our elementary and middle school national dual teams. This prepares them for the always-competitive competition in NJ high school wrestling. That’s really what we try to prepare them for and that’s what really matters. Youth wrestling is great, winning is great, however, no one is really going to remember an elementary wrestler who was really good if they don’t achieve that same success as a high school wrestler.”

Livingston added, “We also emphasize that if the work doesn’t get done in the classroom then don’t expect to be on the mat. Grades are more important and will get them further than anything else.”

As to wrestling in this day and age, Livingston said, “We see it everyday...kids on their phone, Ipad or computer. They are so electronically plugged in, and a lot of other things take a back seat, such as sports. I feel its important for our youth to be involved in one sport or another and better if it is wrestling. It’s a sport that will give a child the tools to succeed later in life.” He added, “It's so important to learn how to be self-driven, to hold themselves responsible and gain confidence through one-on-one competition with wrestling. It’s a sport where they cant rely on anyone else to pass them the ball, block for them, make a tackle if they miss it. Its truly a one of a kind sport that is rewarding, challenging and humbling at the same time.”

Looking back, Livingston said that in addition to Shawn Hall being a huge influence on his life, he is very thankful to John Gill, the Head Wrestling Coach at Kittatinny.

SIR offers classes throughout the week. Monday 6p-8p, Tuesday and Thursday Elementary classes 6p-7:30p. Tuesday and Thursday HS classes 7:30p-9p. Walk ins are accepted and encouraged, and the cost is $20/Class. SIR also offers camps throughout the year, and they post regularly on their Facebook Page. SIR is located at 11 Millpond Dr, Lafayette Township. For info or to sign up for classes, find SIR on Facebook or call (862) 268-1510.

Livingston has lived and breathed the sport as a wrestler turned coach. He understands and teaches that preparation is a mentality and that it's not always the talented who win but those who put in the work and preparation. Like life, in wrestling, there is no retreat. There is no way to slow things down or turn back the clock. Livingston teaches hard work and strong work ethic: these are the things he learned from Hall and Gill and the philosophy that underscores his programs.

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