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It?s getting tougher to be a coach.

Discipline is often met with resistance, demands are questioned and commitment doesn?t come without some type of guarantee.

That?s not a blanket condemnation of all athletes out there. There are certainly still plenty of kids with the passion and drive who give unconditional effort.

That?s the kind of wrestler Leroy Vega was and the kind he?s looking for as the Portage icon returns to as the Indians coach.

?Anybody can do it,? Vega said. ?I was 5-3 as a freshman. I didn?t even make varsity.?

The following year, Vega went 39-1, the precursor to two state titles as an Indian and three all-American finishes at the University of Minnesota. It wasn?t magic that got him there, just plenty of sweat. And when Vega met recently with his team for the first time, that?s what he told all the faces looking up at him.

?If you put in the hard work every day, it pays off, and it feels good,? Vega said. ?I let them know what I expect. Things are going to change in how we work out and how we wrestle. I told them we?ve got to get back in the weight room, put in the time in the wrestling room. I told them I need a leader. They seem excited.?

Vega looks to bring the edge back to Portage wrestling, the swagger that was reflective of the program in its heyday. He?s the first to admit it?s not going to happen overnight ? next year?s squad will be the first in many years without a returning state qualifier ? but you can bet it is going to happen at some point, sooner rather than later.

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