Wrestling: Curby Award holds special meaning for Tanner Andrews
By Paul Johnson For Sun-Times Media July 28, 2012 5:24PM
West Aurora graduate Tanner Andrews received the 2012 Jacob Curby Memorial Award this spring. | Photo courtesy of Northern Michigan University
Updated: August 30, 2012 6:32AM
Anytime one can receive a prestigious award for doing something they love, it is a great accomplishment.
But for West Aurora graduate Tanner Andrews, when he received the 2012 Jacob Curby Memorial Award this spring, the award held even more meaning to him because of his relationship with Curby.
Andrews is attending Northern Michigan University as a part of the United States Olympic Education Center Greco-Roman wrestling program. The Curby Award is given annually to a wrestler from each of the USA Wrestling Olympic Training Centers for displaying strong personal character and commitment.
The award’s namesake, Jacob Curby, a standout wrestler at Lyons before reaching national prominence, coached Andrews when he was younger before suddenly passing away in 2010 at the age of 25.
“It’s definitely the greatest award I’ve won, despite winning national championships and being in the top percentage in the country at senior nationals,” Andrews said. “No other award I’ve gotten has been this prestigious. It showed me that other people believe in me. It’s great. I’m still stoked about it. My parents couldn’t be more proud.”
When Andrews was a senior at West Aurora, Curby and fellow West Aurora graduate Jonathan Drendel were among the coaches who guided Andrews toward a career in Greco-Roman wrestling. After a year at Aurora University, Andrews transferred to Northern Michigan to pursue it further, and Curby was one of the main reasons why.
“A lot of people who didn’t know Jake think it’s just another memorial,” Andrews said. “He’s one of the key inspirations why I continue to do Greco and nothing else. He made anything cool. It’s what I strive to be like and look up to. If it wasn’t for Curby and Drendel going through the program, I would have never known about it.”
The award was presented at an event he hopes to be a part of in 2016, the Olympic team trials. To be recognized among all of the wrestlers he looks up to made the award even more sweet.
“I was put on the same pedestal as this year’s Olympians, so that was really exciting,” Andrews said. “I’ve either been teammates with them or know them personally, so they were all stoked for me. That’s even more motivating.”
Andrews, who wrestles at 74 kg, placed fifth at the 2010 Sunkist Kids International in Tempe, Ariz. He followed that up with a first-place finish at the 2011 University Nationals, a competition limited to college wrestlers up to 25 years of age. He repeated that title in June. He also placed seventh at the U.S. Open in 2011 and won a bronze medal at the 2011 Dave Schultz Memorial International.
Those steps up through the years have landed him his first sponsor to help pay for his many trips for competition, the New York Athletic Club.
“Right before my finals match (in his 2012 University Nationals win), the coach from the New York Athletic Club said they were picking me up and gave me my singlet,” Andrews said.
Now Andrews has his sights set on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He has revised his goals every year, and met them every step of the way. His next major goal is to place in the top three at an international tournament, something that will help him toward his Olympic goals in four years.
“I fell short in 2012, but I learned a lot,” Andrews said. “I know what I’m solid on, so that gives me room to work on my weaknesses. It’s like a motorcyle. You’re trying to get that peak performance. Give me four years, I definitely think that me and my fellow teammates will be there.”