When it came time to nominate someone for the WADA’s Distinguished Service Award, it didn’t take long for Janesville Craig Athletic Director Ben McCormick to come up with the perfect candidate.
McCormick said he thought for about two seconds before quickly writing down two names: Jeff and Cherie Farrell.
The Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association (WADA) agreed and, on Friday night, the Farrells were presented with the service award plaque before the start of the Janesville Craig versus Janesville Parker wrestling match.
The award was presented to the Farrells for being supportive leaders in the school and community and for assisting in maintaining athletics as an integral part of the total educational program.
Jeff, who announces all home wrestling meets at Craig, had no idea what was happening Friday night when Craig wrestling coach Mark Mullen grabbed the mic from him shortly before the meet was scheduled to begin.
“There was so much going on that night with the recognition of the former Craig and Parker coaches in attendance, that we were caught off guard,” Jeff said. “Often times words don’t say enough, especially when you’re not expecting something like that, so I didn’t have anything prepared or really time to tell everyone how blessed we felt getting the award.
“But it’s never been about the recognition or anything like that. It’s just something Cherie and I have enjoyed doing. And even with our kids out of school, we still plan to volunteer as much as we can and help out wherever we’re needed.”
Jeff has been president of the Janesville Youth Wrestling Club since 2007 and is a big reason why the club has grown from relatively small numbers in its first few years to nearly 100 this season. He not only is president but is also serving as head coach of the beginner team this season.
Cherie works as a paraprofessional at Craig and wears an array of hats when it comes to the school’s extra-curricular activities. She coordinates many things at Craig from pep assemblies to fundraisers and has also been an integral part of the area’s Pace for Parkinson’s run/walk that has raised tens of thousands of dollars for individuals and families affected by Parkinson’s disease. The event raised $24,000 in 2015 alone.
“I can’t tell you how significant the contributions those two have made are,” Mullen said. “I give Cherie the information on what’s coming up that week for wrestling, and she takes care of the rest as far as planning and making sure everything is ready to go.
“And Jeff basically runs all our home meets whether it’s a dual meet on a Friday night or a big weekend tournament. If we are hosting the Big Eight meet or a regional or sectional meet, Jeff is in charge. That’s so invaluable because it allows me to coach and not have to worry about all the little things that need to be done.”
The Farrells aren’t limited to wrestling. They also are fixtures at cross country and track and field meets and are big supporters of all things Craig athletics.
McCormick, who nominated the Farrells for the award last spring, said the recognition was long overdue.
“They’re just good people who do great things for not only Craig High School but the community, as well,” McCormick said. “I know they don’t care about the recognition and probably were a little embarrassed by it all but trust me, they go above and beyond what is asked of them and deserved to be recognized for that.”