Binders become a wrestling family
Glenbrook South's Jimmy Binder (left) wrestles Grant's Troy Parent at 120 pounds during the 49th Annual Rus Erb Tournament on Dec. 15. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 28, 2013 2:52PM
GLENVIEW — Given that his father served as the basketball coach at Amundsen for three years, one might have expected Jimmy Binder to find success on the court.
Instead, he found success on the mat.
According to the younger Binder, his move to the mat wasn’t necessarily by choice.
“I definitely played basketball like every kid would, but I was short,” Jimmy Binder said. “I couldn’t make a shot.”
At that point, his father, Howard, standing right next to him, chimed in, remarking that his son was a great defender, a point that Jimmy Binder didn’t necessarily disagree with.
“I loved defense but I stopped basketball when I was really young,” Jimmy Binder said. “I didn’t like the sport as much as everyone else did. I chose wrestling and fell in love with it.”
Although his brother also wrestled for Glenbrook South, Jimmy Binder has been more dedicated to the sport. Robbie Binder, as his father said, was a multi-sport athlete, probably better known for his deeds on the gridiron than for his deeds on the mat. Robbie Binder was a junior lineman on the Titans team that went 9-2 in 2007 and took perennial powerhouse Maine South to the brink before losing by a single touchdown.
“There’s really no comparison,” Howard Binder said. “He had his time on different fields whereas Jimmy wrestles year-round on the mat, so apples and oranges, Robbie never wrestled youth, he never wrestled offseason.”
On the other hand, Jimmy Binder freely admits that wrestling is all he has.
“Wrestling is my life,” Jimmy Binder said. “There is no offseason.”
When he’s not excelling for the Titans, he’s participating in various camps, whether it’s Northwestern’s or Lane’s.
“He’s worked real hard to get where he’s at,” Glenbrook South coach Tom Mietus said. “All of the extra time that he put in outside of the season, that’s what makes him a good wrestler.”
And his father has accompanied him every step of the way.
“I’m a basketball guy, but my kids chose wrestling and I supported their choice and I didn’t want to be an absentee father so I quit coaching,” Howard Binder said. “I’m out of school at three o’clock so I can’t think of a match I’ve missed for either of my children.”
Furthermore, he has even begun to pick up on the unique vocabulary of the sport. He said that it took time, though. As an ardent sports fan who had friends that wrestled in high school, he was familiar with the sport, but he still had more to learn.
“To fine tune it to where I actually knew what I was talking about, that took me a few years,” Howard Binder said. “I could help Jimmy. I couldn’t really help Robbie too much.”
Together, father and son have been learning quickly in a sport where many of the best wrestlers were practically born on a mat. Howard Binder even had Jimmy Binder take notes on their way back from Northwestern, where Jimmy Binder said he would learn six to seven moves a day. Following the 49th Annual Rus Erb Tournament, which was held at Glenbrook South on Dec. 14 and 15, Jimmy Binder acknowledged the vast differences that separated the various participants in the tournament.
“That was the biggest regret that I have; I wish I could have started wrestling and judo when I was really young,” Binder said. “These kids have been wrestling since they were in diapers and it really shows on the mat. The champions that you get in the wrestler tournament have been wrestling since they were three, and some of the guys that were two and out, they just started wrestling these last two years.”
And yet somehow, Jimmy Binder has made the unlikely climb into the state’s elite — or into the Land of Lincoln’s second tier, at least. At the Rus Erb Tournament, Binder made it into the 120-pound semifinals with a 3-1 victory over Jacob Domke of Marian Catholic.
He fell to Troy Parent of Grant, who subsequently fell to Kyle Akins of Sycamore in the finals. Still though, it was enough to earn a medal.
Medals aside, Jimmy Binder may have taken even more confidence from a rematch he had against MJ Pritchard of New Trier. Jimmy Binder fell to Pritchard in a major decision, 11-2, back in February. This season, Jimmy Binder fell 6-0 in what he described as one of the best matches he has ever wrestled.
His father added that it could have been a lot closer, stating that he thought the final score should have been 4-2.
The losses are few and far between now, but when Jimmy Binder was in seventh grade his father told him that it was OK to lose because it was a learning year.
“The progression has just been amazing,” Howard Binder said. “He was a good wrestler. Now, I wouldn’t say he’s the state elite, but he’s right below that.”