With two National Championships and 107 match wins for Ohio State, J Jaggers accomplished more in wrestling than he ever dreamed he would.
After leading an athletic career full of personal achievement, Jaggers is seeking more.
“When you’re at this level of wrestling,” Jaggers said, “wrestling is your life. Every night before I go to bed, I think about wrestling and how to get the Buckeyes better. … Every morning, the first thing on my mind is get the Buckeyes better.”
After graduating from OSU in 2009, Jaggers, who wrestled at 141 pounds, became a volunteer assistant to coach Tom Ryan that April. After assistant coach Joe Heskett left the Buckeyes to coach at West Point, Jaggers was promoted to full-time assistant.
“I’ve wanted to coach college wrestling my whole life,” Jaggers said.
Jaggers brings youth to the coaching staff, so he can relate to the athletes.
Having graduated in 2009, Jaggers is coaching some former teammates. Among them is redshirt junior captain Sean Nemec, who plays golf with Jaggers. Though the two are friends, Nemec said he knows there is a fine line between friend and coach when it comes to training.
“He is the coach, and you have to respect that,” Nemec said. “At the same time I don’t talk to them any different; it’s mainly in the wrestling room.”
Jaggers said he knows he made mistakes as a team leader when he competed but that he is trying to make up for those mistakes.
“I had blinders on a little bit. I was so focused on accomplishing my goal, I didn’t maybe groom along and help the young kids, instill the way I worked in them,” he said. “Now I’m telling them what to do, which can be a little difficult. Sometimes they don’t want to hear it.”
Ryan said he values the knowledge a former national champion brings to the table, as it’s rare for former successful athletes to be able to translate their skills into good coaching.
“Sometimes you run into guys who were incredible talents, incredible wrestlers or whatever sport they participated in, and really can’t relay any information in a good coaching fashion,” Ryan said. “J is an outstanding teacher.”
Nemec said the best lesson he’s learned from Jaggers came from witnessing what the former Buckeye wrestler went through after winning his first National Championship in 2008.
“After his National Championship, the next year in the beginning he was struggling,” Nemec said. “He somehow found a way to turn it around and win another title. You learn a lot from being around guys like that and just watching them.”
While Jaggers said he hopes one day to become head coach of a college wrestling program, his short-term goal is to be an effective leader for the Buckeyes.
“My goal is to get the Buckeyes to compete better,” he said, “and have a good performance at the NCAA (championships).”
Jaggers said he also would like to help the OSU wrestlers accomplish something they never have as a team: win a National Championship.
“Long-term (goal) is to win the nationals,” Jaggers said. “That should always be the goal here at Ohio State.”
Jaggers said wrestling has become more than a sport to him.
“It’s been the most influential piece of my life, obviously,” he said. “It has brought me to where I am in my career. And most of the relationships I hold to the highest value are because of the sport of wrestling.”