An up and down wrestling career didn't stop Otterbein alumnus Adi Tamarapoo from pursuing his goal of coaching wrestling. Tamarapoo is in his second season as an assistant varsity wrestling coach at Westerville South High School, just minutes from Otterbein's campus.
Tamarapoo started wrestling in 2013, as a freshman at Olentangy Liberty High School and went on to be a two-year letterman his junior and senior years. He committed to wrestle at Otterbein during the latter half of his senior year in spring 2017. A four-year junior varsity wrestler for OLHS, Tamarapoo wasn’t the typical collegiate wrestler.
"College wrestling got very frustrating and overwhelming at times,” Tamarapoo said. “When you’re in wrestling you feel this massive pressure on you. It’s almost like you don’t wrestle up to your full potential.”
Tamarapoo struggled as a freshman on Otterbein's 2017 wrestling team. As a sophomore, he found himself alone on the starting lineup as the only Cardinal qualified for the 141-pound weight class.
Following his sophomore season on Otterbein's wrestling team, Tamarapoo decided to hang up his wrestling shoes. Although his time as an Otterbein wrestler didn’t pan out the way he had hoped, helping high school wrestlers overcome some of the same struggles he went through has allowed him to find a new way to express the passion he has for the sport.
“That was probably the best news I had ever gotten in my entire life,” Tamarapoo said when he heard that he was accepted as the new assistant varsity wrestling coach at Westerville South. "Wrestling has meant the world to me throughout high school and college. It’s been so important to me.”
Otterbein University wrestler Jarrod Setliff was a teammate of Tamarapoo's during the 2018-2019 season. The friendship remains strong between the two. Tamarapoo still attends every Otterbein wrestling home meet to watch Setliff compete.
"It's awesome to see him want to give back to the sport," Setliff said. "I've seen him grow a lot over the years as a wrestler and I'm excited to see how much he can help other people grow."
Tamarapoo enjoys the one-on-one time he shares with his athletes and reflects on his past career to shed light on their futures.
“I had one moment where one of my wrestlers went through a little rough patch last season where he wasn’t doing too hot in the room and in the competitions,” Tamarapoo said. “We talked and I told him a lot of different stories that I had especially from my high school and collegiate days. After the conversation, the switch flipped for him.”
The Westerville South wrestling team wraps up its season with the Ohio High School Athletic Association sectional tournament on Saturday, February 26.