Former Tiger Clymer builds program at Faith Christian
When Ben Clymer graduated from Hofstra in 2012, the former Northwestern Lehigh wrestling state champ didn’t have any aspirations to return to the Lehigh Valley.
“I was on Long Island and was very happy there,” said Clymer. “I never really thought about coming home. I was subbing and coaching wrestling in Amityville, and my wife is from Long Island.
“I was living with some college friends and really enjoying life.”
But then the phone call came from his uncle, Robert, who was the headmaster at Faith Christian Academy, which was then in Sellersville but has since moved to the Quakertown area. It would be a career-changing moment.
“My uncle said there was a physical education position open to teach at the elementary and middle school level and the wrestling coach job was also open,” Clymer said. “I was there for a year-and-a-half and it was spring when it happened.
“I figured it was time to grow up and start a clean slate. My girlfriend and I became engaged and I took the leap.”
Eight years later, Clymer has developed Faith Christian wrestling into one of the better Class 2A programs in the state.
It has been a slow, methodical process over time. Clymer likes to refer to the biblical verse “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished; but he that gathereth by labor shall have increase.”
“In the 2015-16 season, we had two seventh graders with experience - Max Schultz and Damon Waltenbaugh - who we thought we could build our program around,” said Clymer. “During the first year, we were just working on drills and hand-to-hand combat. In the second year, we had some matches with Philmont Christian and Delco Christian. We were still pretty green.”
The following year, the school began to grow and expand as well as the wrestling program. Two school buildings were purchased in Quakertown, and a wrestling facility was established.
Clymer also has managed to keep his faith in the forefront.
“We were able to get our own facility, and that was a big help,” said Clymer. “It has been a great transition, but I’m still trying to figure it out. The program has gotten better, and we have to keep working to sustain it. It has been enjoyable because the kids and their parents have bought into it. But it really is about the pursuit of the teaching of Jesus Christ not only about the pursuit of wrestling.”
Clymer worked full time six years at the school, three years as the school’s athletic director. He currently works for the family-owned Clymer Construction Company. Being out of the school has been a different experience.
“It has been a huge adjustment,” said Clymer. “My father (Scott) has had a lot of patience with me around our practice schedule, and that’s a big reason why it works. Now, there is a little bit of excitement with me getting there instead of me and the wrestlers being on top of each other all day.
“It also has worked out better for my family, as my wife Kailey and I have two children - Colton 3, Hayden, 1 - and we have a third one on the way. Being there for my family and being a good father is very important.”
Under Clymer, the Lions have won four team District 1/12 titles, and have had their share of wrestlers in the postseason rounds. They won their first state match this past winter. Recently graduated senior Eric Alderfer was the program’s first state runner up this past season.
Clymer anticipates having 25 wrestlers back in the program for the winter at the high school level, and former Pennridge standout R.P. Norley has worked to develop the youth/middle school program.
Clymer, who won a state title his senior year at Northwestern, admits there have been offers from local wrestling powerhouses, but he hasn’t been swayed yet.
“There have been times, and I have prayed about it,” he said. “It would have to be a good situation for my family. I really enjoy what I am doing now, and I can see the growth down the road in this program. We really have started to see progress, and it would be hard to leave. But if there was something good for my family, I would plunge into it.”
In spite of his high school and college success – a three-time NCAA qualifier – Clymer’s real love was football.
“In my senior year (at Northwestern), I was waiting to see how many Division One football offers I would get,” said Clymer. “I saw that I wasn’t getting those, but I was getting wrestling ones.
“I worked hard to get on both of those stages, but I was guided toward wrestling.”
Instead, Clymer will spend Friday night watching his youngest brother , Dalton, play football at Northwestern. Dalton is also a Tiger wrestler.
“Dalton is a gifted athlete,” said Clymer. “He doesn’t have the kind of drive that I had, but he is talented. I’ll enjoy watching him on the field this fall.”
For Clymer, though, it continues to be a self-motivating effort to keep his program on top.
“People see what we are doing here, and we’re keeping Christ in the forefront,” he stressed. “We have been slowly building it over time. My family will always be a big part of all of this. It is about having faith in each other, and we’ll keep moving it forward.”