John Archambeau will be remembered at Springfield College as being one of the most dominant wrestlers to ever wear maroon and white. He was a renegade, an absolute monster. Opponents feared him.
Most of the time, the local student-athlete from Ludlow, Mass. was successful, winning a majority of his matches. Archambeau will be remembered as a tremendous leader, a captain and a support for his teammates, his brothers.
Now back at Springfield College, graduate assistant coach John Archambeau attempts to bring the same characteristics to his leadership role to Springfield College wrestling, and some additional core values and lessons that he learned during his time with the Air Force Reserves.
After his freshman season, from 2006-2007, Archambeau decided that he needed some time away from Springfield College.
“I needed to get away for a while,” said Archambeau. “The military seemed like the right fit for me at the time, the Reserves in particular. I knew I wanted to go back to school and it worked out really well where I could still fulfill my military requirements while remaining a full-time student and athlete. I was really fortunate that both the military and Springfield College worked with me to help me accomplish the goals that I wanted to.”
After taking a year off from school, Archambeau came back to Springfield College and his wrestling team a changed man. After a freshman year of getting in trouble and having some personal conduct issues, Archambeau returned to Springfield College with more discipline, more organization, and a more mature personality.
“John was a little rough around the edges early on in his first couple of years at Springfield,” said former head coach Darryl Arroyo. “He got in some trouble, just as first-year students do, but he got his act together. The military was a huge part of that.”
Archambeau’s sophomore year was a success, including a 3-0 record over two different weight classes at the City of Springfield Championships, an annual meet for the Pride against Western New England University, American International College and Springfield Technical Community College.
“John was a very talented athlete,” added Arroyo. “He had a great competitive edge. He came to my camp for many years since he lived close to schools, so I have known him for many years. He was one of the better wrestlers in Massachusetts. He was a really hard worker and great role model.”
The summer before his senior year with the Pride, Archambeau was deployed to Afghanistan. Luckily for him, Springfield College was compliant with his situation and worked with him to be able to complete his required classes while also serving over seas.
After returning home and rejoining the squad for his senior season, Archambeau did not disappoint. Being named a captain and leader of his team, Archambeau dominated his competition and was impressive enough to maintain a No. 1 ranking for his weight class in the New England Wrestlers Association poll, and added a conference championship to his list of accolades.
Spending another year away from Springfield College after graduation, Archambeau decided to make his return to the school, this time as a graduate assistant, focusing on Physical Education and helping current head coach Jason Holder with coaching Springfield College wrestling.
“Its great to be back at Springfield,” said Archambeau. “It is such a great environment which is unique, especially visiting other campuses, so I am glad to be back and on the other side of it as a coach rather than an athlete. It is definitely a great role to have. My body my senior year was telling me that I wasn’t going to be able to wrestle many more matches, so it’s nice being a coach now.”
In his first year as an assistant coach, Springfield wrestled to a 14-2 record and Archambeau helped coach eventual the national champion in his former 157-pound weight class, Devin Biscaha.
“He [Archambeau] was a great wrestler for us,” reflected Holder. “He did a great job as a student-athlete here. When he came in as a coach, I knew he was good technically and I knew he would be good in the wrestling room. What sticks out for him as a coach is his organization, his willingness to take initiative and get things going. You can kind of tell with his military background that he is structured, organized and he is really good with that stuff. He keeps me in line.”
Although just joining the coaching ranks, Archambeau credits his coaching style and success to what he has learned and continues to learn as part of the Air Force Reserves.
“It is interesting the discipline that I bring as a coach rather than being a student-athlete,” commented Archambeau, who is currently a Second Lieutenant in the Military after attending officer schooling this past summer. “This sport requires discipline. It is tough to balance that and have fun at the same time. With all the weight management and extra workouts outside of the room, it can really wear on you mentally, so it’s good to be able to step back and reflect on it and have that time to relax too. I like to keep things fun for the guys. If they’re not enjoying the sport then I am not doing my job as a coach. I want to make sure they are still enjoying themselves and having fun.”
As Archambeau approaches graduation in May, his fingers are crossed for the future.
“I have more military training this summer for a couple months out in San Antonio, Texas,” said Archambeau. “I am not sure if the military is going to enroll me to do any assignments, but I am planning on applying to schools on the East Coast to become a physical education teacher because that is what I got my degrees in, or looking to apply for some head coaching positions at the collegiate level.”
Despite not knowing the exact direction Archambeau’s career is headed, Holder has a lot of hope for his assistant.
“He was a phenomenal wrestler,” commented Holder. “Wherever he goes he has a bright future ahead of him. Whether he gets into physical education, coaching or goes back to the Air Force Reserves, I know he will be successful.”
With this past week being his six-year anniversary of joining the Air Force Reserves, Archambeau finds himself working one weekend a month, with five years remaining with the Reserves before he fulfills his military requirements.