Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Joe Romine, left, was named the first County/Metro Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in the first voting of coaches for the award. Among the voting winners were first team All-CMAC Coyote wrestlers, from left, Giovanni Madrigal, Cristian Solorio, Rudy Paredes, David Diaz and Oscar Ruiz. Not pictured is Alex Vaca.
Madera Coyote wrestling coach Joe Romine makes sure to keep athletics director John Fernandez busy at the end of each wrestling season.
For the past nine years, Romine has added a County/Metro Athletic Conference championship to the banners inside Joe Flores Gym and this year was no exception after the Coyotes went undefeated throughout the CMAC dual meet season.
In a different format this year, the CMAC didn’t have an end-of-the-year tournament to determine league champions. Instead, the league went to an All-League voting format and six Coyotes were named first team All-CMAC out of 14 weight classes. In addition, head coach Romine was voted the first CMAC Coach of the Year.
“The consistency and the expectations of the program help with the traditions,” Romine said. “The kids come in and they may not be superstars, but they know there’s an expectation coming in. We never talk about winning league. We just say that’s something we strive to do. If we do the little things, the big things will take care of themselves. It almost becomes a competition amongst the kids. They don’t want to be the team that doesn’t do it. Having that strong expectation is key. The kids buy in to what we’re selling. They wrestle for themselves and the team. That’s a credit to the kids. Of course it helps to have really good coaches. The assistants I have are doing great things with the program.”
Senior Giovanni Madrigal (113 pounds), senior Cristian Solorio (120), senior Rudy Paredes (132), junior David Diaz (138), senior Oscar Ruiz (145) and senior Alex Vaca (195) were named first team All-CMAC.
With a ninth championship, Romine still doesn’t think he belongs in the same sentence as Madera wrestling coaching legends Vern Brooks, Al Kiddy and Corky Napier. Although winning nine straight league championships is a first in the program’s history.
“Times are different,” he said. “That would be presumptuous to put me in their class myself. I don’t think I’ll ever be in their class. I’ll let other people decide that. Me, personally, those guys are just legends, in my mind.”
However, Romine is one of the few to have contact with all four of those coaches, and he has benefited greatly from it.
“I’ll never be able to come close to their skill set,” Romine said. “Those guys are fantastic. To even mention me with those guys is humbling. Those are the guys I grew up with. Vern Brooks was friends with my dad. Al Kiddy, after he retired as head coach, came back an worked with me in high school. Of course, Corky Napier was my high school coach. To know those guys and know their history, it’s just cool. I always valued being the Madera wrestling coach. Those are big shoes to fill.”
In typical Romine fashion, he deflects his success to the assistant coaches he has had in the past and the kids he has coached.
“I’ve had probably 28 assistants over last 10 years or so,” he said. “That’s a lot of coming and going. When they came in, they got to work and we don’t argue too much. We get along and the game plan is said up front. They carry things out. We’ve always had good assistants. It makes my job easy.
“They will have three or four assistants work with them while they were here and then go to college. They are able to take what we’ve taught them and add to it from the other places and put their own twist on things.”
Romine won a Valley Championship in 1987 at 154 pounds with the Coyotes and was second the year before. However, coming back to coach at the school he won a title added a bit more pressure in just accepting and keeping the job. He had pride in the program, wanted to see it have success and was just as willing to step down if he wasn’t reaching the level the program should get to.
“I was at different schools for nine years before coming back to Madera,” he said. “I always wanted to know how Madera was doing. When I had the chance to be the coach, it was a stressful decision. I really wanted it, but I had so much pride in the program that I didn’t want to be the guy that drove the program into the ground. I believed in the program so much and what wrestling does for young men and what it did for me with the opportunity it provided and what we’re being able to provide for these kids, there was a lot of pride in that. I told Joe Aiello years back that I wanted to do it for three years. If I can’t right the ship or keep it going in three years, then find someone else to do it. Three years came and went and we were doing okay so I said I’ll do it for 10 years. We’re on year 14. Every year, we have to evaluate what is going on. I didn’t want to be that guy that dropped the ball.”
Now, 14 years later, Romine is entrenched in Madera wrestling lore. Although happy his team won a ninth straight CMAC title, Romine said it adds pressure to the following teams.
“It adds more pressure,” he said. “It’s a good pressure. You have kids working for things. I do feel good about it. But, I also realize there’s so many factors and it starts with the kids coming in. We get good kids, they’re going to help them out. Behind those kids, we’ve had good help with my assistants. Of course, the support of the administration and community.
“It’s a hidden gem here. It’s a good situation.”