GREENFIELD — He offered up his chair.
In July of 2011 Josh Holden rushed into the police station the moment he got the news. One of his students had lost his father in a motorcycle accident just hours earlier.
When the Greenfield-Central wrestling coach arrived, the 16-year-old stood to greet his coach and mentor, offering his seat. It’s going to be all right, Holden recalled Farrell telling him.
This gave Holden pause to hear this young man to speak these words to his coach, and not the other way around.
There aren’t many people like Josh Farrell in the world, Holden said. The same drive that allowed the young wrestler to overcome obstacles in his athletic career lead him in conquering the rest of life’s toughest trials.
A former state champion, Farrell was honored at the Greenfield-Central home meet against Warren Central on Wednesday night. Farrell was recognized for his accomplishments in wrestling, chief among them being the second state champion in Greenfield-Central’s history.
Farrell’s boasts a lengthy list of achievements from his career with the Cougars. Besides winning the state championship at 152 pounds in 2012-13 — the first Greenfield wrestler to do so since Terry Edon in 1979 — Farrell also holds the school’s record for wins in a season as a senior at 48-0.
With a 92 career-winning percentage, Farrell was a state-place winner for each year he spent in high school, finishing runner up at 138 in 2012.
Additionally, Farrell holds Greenfield-Central’s school record for all-time wins. His total career record was 178-15, with five of those losses taking place in the state championship.
But Farrell’s triumphs on the mat came as no surprise to head wrestling coach Josh Holden, who saw Farrell’s victories as reflective of the unbreakable work ethic he displays in the rest of his life.
The coaches didn’t have to ask Farrell to come in early or stay late, to lift extra, to run extra or to study film. Farrell asked them.
“You could have a bad day as a coach, and you walk into the room, and here comes Josh Farrell beat-bopping at you with a big smile on his face,” Holden said. “He was ready to go, he didn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Most people who wrestle in high school enjoy competing on Saturdays, and they enjoy winning, Holden said. That’s the fun part.
Nobody likes layering on sweatshirts after school every day to practice in the sweltering hot wrestling room, he said. Nobody likes to miss out on their favorite foods during the holidays because they have to cut weight for the next meet. Nobody likes the pain and soreness after hours of weight training.
Nobody except for Farrell, Holden said. He loves that stuff, too.
Now, Farrell works full-time as an electrician’s apprentice. After work, he spends a fair amount of his time working in a deer butcher shop. The little free time that Farrell has left in his schedule is not spent relaxing; the love of the sport is a call that he can’t resist.
Today, Farrell continues to drop by the high school to help out at practice whenever he can.
“It’s good to be a volunteer coach, and just to build a relationship with the wrestlers and watch them improve and succeed,” Farrell said.
Assistant Coach Ed Hamant sees the fire that Josh inspires in other young wrestlers every time he steps in the room.
“He was the hardest-working kid in the room every day for four years,” Hamant said. “He was a leader from day one of his freshman year. He took the talent God gave him and got the most he could get out of it.
“It’s like having a piece of the history of the program right in front of you.”
Farrell said he is happy to serve. He won’t ever forget the love and support given to him by his family and friends over the years. The bond Farrell formed with his coach in high school is still strong today.
“Now that [Holden] isn’t my coach anymore, it’s awesome to call him my friend,” Farrell said with a grin. “Now it’s a friendship where we get to do something we both love.
“You do it for the love of the sport, but also it’s good to give back,” he added. “You give people help just like you were helped.”
The padded walls of Greenfield-Central High School’s wrestling room are decked with plaques and photos commemorating the team’s most memorable competitors. The most notable among them, though, are the two “fat heads” adorning the western wall — life-sized, cut out pictures of Greenfield-Central’s two state champions: one for Terry Edon, 1979, and one for Josh Farrell.