Class of 2020
Immaculate Heart Central Cavaliers
Derek Brenon was the oldest of three children, born on October 13th 1989. His parents Steve and Lisa Brenon were concerned from the start because he had been born on Friday the 13th. They felt as if he would be cursed for all eternity. Derek had little clue to what his future held, however, with his supportive family behind him and a work ethic he inherited from past generations there seemed to be no limit to what he would accomplish.
Derek first stepped on a mat at the age of three. His father was a black belt and felt it was time to introduce him to Judo. Judo is a martial art that originated in Japan and consisted of only throws, foot-sweeps and submissions. After a year, his father felt it was time to introduce him to the sport of wrestling hoping he would take to it like he did Judo. Derek went undefeated that year, he had a lot of success and failures throughout his peewee career but one thing remained constantHis love for the sport.
In seventh grade Derek was moved up to varsity and went 17-3 on the season for the General Brown Lions. After careful consideration he and his father made the decision to transfer to Immaculate Heart Central following his 8th grade year; to wrestle under who he considers the greatest high school coach of all time; John Babcock. Coach Babcock took Derek under his wing to help rebuild confidence in himself, from having to deal with such negativity the previous two years. That year Derek placed 2nd in his first showing at the Section III Tournament. Losing to who would eventually become that years state champion Paul Leblanc. The next 3 years would be nothing short of spectacular, with the help of Coach Babcock, his father Steve and the rest of the IHC wrestlers and supporters Derek would go on to become a three time state finalist. He accumulated a record of 203-20 placing 2nd in 2006, 2nd in 2007 and 1st in 2008, Derek was also awarded the sportsmanship award for all of NYS in 2008 and was the team captain of IHC who was crowed the 2008 Div. 2 NYS Team champions. Derek also earned his black belt in Judo at the age of 16 after placing bronze in the open division of the Empire State Games.
After graduating high school and unsure of what was next, Derek attended Jefferson Community College in Watertown to increase his GPA so that he could have the opportunity to wrestling in college. He unfortunately lost many opportunities to wrestle in college right out of high school being that his GPA was sub-par. This was also one of the best things that had happened to Derek. This made him truly understand the importance of being a STUDENT-athlete. He found a home at Ithaca College, were he was able to balance the student life with athletic life. Derek was successful right from the start, he was named ECWC rookie of the week, ECWC wrestler of the week, and earned all-state recognition by placing sixth at the NYS championships. He capped off his college career by earning All-American status his junior year as well as Academic All-American status his senior year. He compiled a career record of 85-18 and earned a Bachelor of Sciences degree from Ithaca College.
Following a successful college career Derek wasnt satisfied just yet, he turned his focus to the sport of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Derek was undefeated the first four years of his career boasting a total record of 12-0, 6-0 as an amateur and 6-0 as a professional MMA athlete. In his fifth year of actively competing he suffered two losses and decided to take a break from MMA.
Derek decided to moved back to his home town (Watertown) and felt it was time to give back to the wrestling community that showed him so much support in the past. He and his father Steve have grown their wrestling club Blackbelt Wrestling Academy to over 50 members as of 2019 and look forward to the continuous growth of not only the club as a whole but the individual wrestlers that call it home. Derek and his father continue to stress the importance of hard work, dedication, commitment, focus, sacrifice, sportsmanship and most importantly having fun! Derek is going on his second year as the assistant varsity wrestling coach, under Jamie Call, for the Indian River Warriors and hopes to have the opportunity to lead the program to continued success in the future. One quote that Derek has lived his life by and wanted me to share with you all is 'Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire'.