Erik Hanson moved about the gym at T.F. South High School on Saturday during the South Suburban Conference tournament.
The T.F. South assistant was coaching and shouting encouragement to Rebels wrestlers as well as talking strategy with head coach Mike Tisza.
There was no doubt Hanson was at home, and glad he returned home.
"This is a dream come true for me," Hanson said. "I just keep smiling about it every time I come to school.
"I have a chance to give back to the kids, the community where I grew up."
The Hanson name is no stranger to the Lansing or the T.F. South community, where his brothers Chet and Kyle also made their name. Chet is a teacher at the school and is a sophomore football coach and was an assistant wrestling coach.
"This is a just a great situation to work with these kids and remember back to when I was in that wrestling room working," Hanson said. "It is just a great situation."
Hanson is looking to pursue his master's degree in order to become a part of the special education program. Chet is a special education teacher.
"I want that opportunity to work with kids and make them feel part of the mainstream," Hanson said. "There are so many kids who need that special attention and we cannot leave them behind. It goes back to 'No child left behind.'"
Hanson was a four-time conference champ in the now-defunct SICA and was fifth in the Class AA state meet in 2006 at 152 pounds. The 2006 T.F. South grad went onto a great career on the mat at Loras College, making All-America at 157 pounds in 2011. He finished fifth in the NCAA Division III meet.
T.F. South junior Tyrone Johnson credited Hanson for his winning the 182-pound title at the SSC meet.
"He just kept pushing me and pushing me to reach my potential," Johnson said. "Those times, when I thought I couldn't go any more, Coach Hanson, he was right there encouraging me and giving me confidence."
Johnson said Hanson relates well to the wrestlers.
"He is not that much older than us and we can relate to him," Johnson said. "He has been an All-American, conference champ and he is a South guy."
Hanson was The Times 2005 Illinois football defensive player of the year as a nose guard.
"You just learn to go low and that is how you are going to get past bigger linemen," Hanson said. "I was fortunate to have good coaches and learned a lot about more than sports."