Cody Allala raises his arms in victory. Allala was just the 18th wrestler
in Virginia history to win four straight wrestling titles, and was arrested
in early March while in possession of over an ounce of marijuana.
Allala appeared in court last week, pleading guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession with an intent to sell. The plea deal got him out of a nasty punishment, which consisted of 100 hours of community service and 12 months in jail. The combination of the two surely would have lost him his full wrestling scholarship, but because Clackamas extended their offer on the table while other schools withdrew theirs, Allala had something to bargain with. Instead of sitting in jail and cleaning up roadsides, he would be attending classes in Oregon, on the other side of the country and away from his old influences, something that head coach Josh Rhoden said was a cornerstone of his settlement in court.
“We said hey look, you’ve got to take care of your stuff back there before you come out here, but we’ll be here to support you and make this happen for you,” said Rhoden. “[Allala] is a really nice kid, and I think he deserves an opportunity.”
However, Allala isn't the only wrestler to have brushes with drugs and alcohol in the past. On one occasion, Trent Noon, who took 4th place in the 174lb class at the 2012 NJCAA championships, openly admitted to drinking on campus during a softball game, something that is doubly illegal, as Noon was only 19 at the time and Clackamas Community College has a strict no-alcohol policy. Noon also tweeted out several pictures of himself in possession of alcohol as recently as August 4, and while his account is now protected and no longer available to the general public, the protective measures don’t hide the illegal activities.
|Trent Noon, (top, in red) wrestles during a home meet in 2011.|
“Disappointed,” said Rhoden, his normally positive and upbeat demeanor giving way to crestfallen quietness.
“Obviously I don’t encourage that type of stuff, especially putting it out there like that,” said Rhoden, who mentioned that he kept in contact with the wrestlers during the summer and knew that several were in the Oregon City area, but that he didn’t know exactly what they were up to. “Definitely not something that we want branding us. Definitely.”
The photo was the first knowledge that Rhoden had of the problem, and while Rhoden didn’t defend his actions, he did explain his surprise by saying that Noon had been a good athlete, a good teammate and a good student without any problems whatsoever. Normally, according to Rhoden, the team leaders do a good job of making sure both that the team is keeping to the rules of the program and informing him of any infringement that needs to be dealt with.
“We get so many guys, I believe, that buy into what we’re talking about and trust us [that] they’ll approach us and say hey we need to get these guys on board so that we can do well as a team,” said Rhoden. “A lot of people get that concept.”
Rhoden also talked about how the program handles situations with alcohol abuse, which is something that happens from time to time, and something that Rhoden sees as a mistake, but not one that can’t be overcome. Once he is aware of the problem, the athlete is usually approached with the allegations. Eventually, whether they deny it at first, the truth is found out and a path to redemption is laid down. Rhoden said that several wrestlers have been asked to leave in the past if they couldn't uphold team rules, and not all for drug and alcohol reasons.
When contacted several days later, Rhoden did confirm that he had contacted Noon with the allegations but declined to comment on what was said and what the course of action would be. Rhoden also said that the authorities had not yet been notified as of Thursday, August 9. Noon could not be reached for comment.
The main point that Rhoden emphasized with both Allala and Noon is that he feels that people should be given opportunities to make something of themselves.
“Whether it’s financial reasons, or your academics or your background, community colleges are here to give people an opportunity, and I think that’s kinda what we exemplify in our program,” said Rhoden. “If you screw it up, we’re gonna send you home, but we’ll give you a chance.”