2009 Dave Schultz Memorial International Open
Olympic Training Center

Colorado Springs, CO    February 05-08, 2009

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  • FEATURE: Chris Bono has the best of both worlds
    By Megan Myers - USA Wrestling

    When Chris Bono wakes up in the morning he wants to train, compete and win.

    However, instead of devoting all of this time to train for competitions, Bono dedicates his valuable training time to being the head coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

    Bono was named the head coach of the Mocs wrestling team in 2007. From the beginning, his team and athletic department have supported him and his goals of being a World champion.

    "I can see where a lot of people have a problem with it, but from day one my administration and my team have been behind me, that's what really counts," Bono said. "I have a lot of unfinished goals. It would probably kill me if I didn't give it one more shot. With the support of my athletic department and my team, I'm going to give it 100 percent."

    In recent months, Bono has been the victim of harsh criticism for competing while he coaches but that does not stop him from achieving his goals.

    "The people that don't want me doing it, I invite them to come follow me for a week and see my devotion to the team," he said. "My devotion is to the team first, training is second."

    Bono uses his experience of being a three-time World Team member and four-time U.S. Nationals champion to teach his team what it takes to get to the next level.

    "When I wrestled at Midlands, I was one of the guys for the weekend. It was good because they saw my preparation and how I made weight. They saw it all," Bono said. "When I am working out, sometimes the guys come in and they will get an extra workout in with me. It helps them to see what it takes to train to get them at the elite level."

    He may have been "one of the guys" for a weekend, but Bono said as long as they are growing as a person, in wrestling, school, and being a good citizen and role model then he is accomplishing his job.

    "Our philosophy is to try to get them to be better men. Becoming a better man is by honesty, integrity and hard work," he said. "We are graduating kids and we're training hard. I just want these guys to have integrity in everything they do in their lives."

    When Bono is not coaching, he is competing in tournaments and training for the 2009 World Championships. He may not be aiming to make it to the Olympics but winning gold at Worlds would not be for him. It would be for the people that have supported him throughout his wrestling career.

    "I would hang the medal around my wife's neck, my mom's neck and around my girls' necks then move on. I would do it for everybody who have supported me and who have been there for me," Bono said. "There has been a lot more down times than up times, and I've had the support from my wife, kids and family, to see them smile when I came home with that would be what it was all about. To come home with a gold medal at the end of September would cap off a pretty good career for me."

    U.S. National Freestyle Coach Zeke Jones said Bono is in a unique situation by being a competitor and a coach. He said coaching and competing compliment each other in that coaching makes you a better wrestler and wrestling makes you a better coach.

    "I think there are a lot of challenges to what Chris is doing because it is difficult to do two things," Jones said. "The real world says we have to juggle responsibilities. I think it's probably very difficult and I say the odds are against him, but if anybody could it, Chris could."
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