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Strum back where it began – Boston Herald



When Alex Strum stepped down as head wrestling coach at Catholic Memorial in 2018 after five successful seasons, he wasn’t sure what the future held.

Given the opportunity to return to the mat as head coach at his alma mater Holliston, Strum didn’t bat an eye.

“It was tough leaving CM,” said Strum, who served as a volunteer assistant last year. “I really missed that last group of kids as I had grown an attachment to them. What made me feel good was the fact that I felt I left the program in good shape.

“Being a head coach again has been great, I do like having that responsibility of being a head coach on my shoulders. This has been a great group to work with.”

Strum wrestled at Holliston before graduating in 2012, though the mat wasn’t the place he originally envisioned to be during the winter athletic season.

“I was a poor basketball player and one day a random kid told me that I was going to be a two-time state wrestling champion,” Strum said. “The two-time part didn’t happen, but I gave wrestling a shot and I bought into it.”

It was during his team wrestling under Jim Carboneau and Paul Capobianco that Strum first got the coaching bug.

“I had a good memory for wrestling history and the coaches liked that,” Strum said. “My senior year, I actually went to the seeding meeting with coach Carboneau. I think he brought me there because he needed someone to do the paperwork.

“Wrestling is a unique sport in that there are limited opportunities when you get out of school. In sports like basketball and hockey, you can join pickup league and there isn’t any of that in wrestling. Coaching is as close as you can get to staying in the sport.”

Strum said there isn’t much change in the sport in the four years he was away from coaching. One noticeable difference is the depth of talented teams in some of the league, the Tri-Valley League being one of them.

“The TVL has really gotten consistently stronger,” said Strum, whose team is 3-3. “Norton has always been tough, Ashland has gotten better the last few years and the others teams in the league are improving. The league is definitely deeper from when I was coaching at Catholic Memorial.”

Milford wants more

Milford ended the 2022 calendar year with a bang, which was precisely what head coach PJ Boccia wanted.

The defending Div. 2 state champions swept a New Years Eve quad meet, defeating Div. 1 contender Shawsheen (40-37), Springfield Central (64-18) and Coventry (39-30) to improve to 7-0 on the season at the time.

“I knew we had a lot of guys coming back off a state title team,” Boccia said. “We were not going to shy away from anyone, we were looking to put together as tough a schedule as we could. We were supposed to wrestle St. John’s Prep but the meet got snowed out and we were not able to make it up. Even without that, we have a tough schedule and those good tests will let us know what we need to do in order to become better.”

The genesis of the New Years Eve quad meet started some 40 miles away at the Doughboy Wrestling Club in Lowell. Boccia was bringing his son Brayden there for training and he bumped into Shawsheen assistant coach Brian Tildsley, whose children (Sidney, James and Tayla) are state champion wrestlers. One thing led to another and the seeds were sown.

“We were talking about it could be a great event,” Boccia said. “Shawsheen was a very good team and they were coming into our meet after winning the Lowell Holidays. It was a great match and it’s something we want to continue.”

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