Posted on June 29, 2015 · Posted in Athletic News, Blog

Clay FrenchClay French has been wrestling almost all of his life. In 1999, he graduated from Charleston High School in central Illinois, where he was a class AA all-state wrestler. He wrestled Division I at Eastern Illinois University, and then helped coach at EIU while working on his master’s degree. French has experience in MMA, where he compiled a professional record of 20-7. He won the King of the Cage Lightweight Title and defended it three times, and has competed in many organizations worldwide during his 10-year MMA career.

His wrestling coaching experience includes six years at Willowbrook High School, as well as a year as the head coach for the town of Mount Carmel, Illinois. “As the wrestling coach at St. Laurence, I will use the sport to develop the student-athletes’ work ethic, confidence, integrity, self-discipline, humility, respect, and a goal-setting mindset,” said French. “It is an honor to be named the head coach at a school with such a strong wrestling tradition, and I look forward to building the program back to a championship caliber.”

“We are excited to have Clayton take over the wrestling program,” said Tim Chandler, Athletic Director at St. Laurence. “Clay is very well respected in the wrestling community because of his work ethic and his ability to teach the technical aspects of wrestling. Additionally, I was impressed with Clay’s high moral compass and passion for wrestling. I am confident he and his staff will deliver sustained success and stability within the program.”

Coach French will be joined by Assistant Coach Carson Beebe, who wrestled and was a two-time captain, two-time dual team State Champion, and three-time State Place-winner for Montini Catholic. Beebe was a Big 10 starter at Purdue University and then pursued a career in Mixed Martial Arts. Inside the MMA cage, Carson utilized his wrestling background to win many fights, including appearances on The Ultimate Fighter, World Series of Fighting, and many nationally televised events. Carson is living proof that “Iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) He works to instill a brotherhood mentality among his wrestlers as they work together to build a dynasty in Illinois wrestling.

You can meet Coach French and Coach Beebe at their upcoming wrestling camp and open mats. Their camp will run July 20-23 for youth (grades 5-8) from 4-6 p.m. and St. Laurence students from 12-2 p.m. The cost is $60 for grammar school students and $100 for incoming and returning St. Laurence students. Weekly open mat sessions are on Mondays from 12-1:30 p.m. and Wednesdays from 6:30-8 pm. For more information, call St. Laurence at (708) 458-6900 or check out their website at