ASK KOLAT: Can High School Coaches Transition to College Coaching?
A Traditional Barrier
Cary Kolat is asked his opinion on the ability of a high school or club level wrestling Coach to transition to the collegiate level. Cary, not only believes that this is possible, but that it has and should continue to increase. In wrestling, there has been a long-standing barrier for many who have wanted to pursue a career in collegiate Coaching. A cultural standard has existed for decades that Coaches must first achieve high accolades of their own. This is the path to earning respect and eventually a Coaching position. Continuing to work and gain even more achievements could eventually lead to a head wrestling Coach position.
High-Level Coaches, High-Level Success
American wrestling’s recent international success is not strictly due to current Coaches filling collegiate positions. There is a foundation built upon high-level high school wrestling programs and recently, wrestling clubs that began to pop up about 15 years ago. NCAA Champions like Tony Purler and Sean Bormet currently and previously ran wrestling clubs. They gave kids just starting in the sport the opportunity to learn the fundamentals from extremely high-level Coaches. Due to this, we are seeing more athletes entering the college level ready to win NCAA titles. They are also experiencing far more success at the international levels. The introduction of Olympic Regional Training Centers has also made an impact. More club and high school Coaches have the ability to work in these programs. This allows them to be affiliated with a college program and eventually gain enough recognition to become a part of the staff.
Behind the Curve
Even with recent improvements Kolat still believes we are well behind as a sport. Take Texas football for example, if a Coach is able to run a highly successful high school program with 15 Coaches on staff and a team then there is no question they could make the jump to division two college football. The opportunity for this type of upward mobility has been prevalent in sports like football and basketball for years. We have been a sport where a recruit looks for a Coach with an enormous amount of achievements and credentials or a program that has a history of success. Cary believes this is an outdated way of thinking because there is an abundance of high school wrestling Coaches out there who have an incredible amount of experience handling athletes and training them for success. The ability of the wrestlers can drastically increase if you continue to break down barriers and bring in high-level Coaches.
Recruiting High School Coaches
Cary has said for a long time the level of competition now is 10x higher than when he competed. Today the body shape of athletes, nutrition, technique, and confidence levels are all completely different. Competitors are trying increasingly creative and wild moves in bigger matches. They are trying to win an NCAA title as freshmen. Some are competing internationally while still in college. This all comes from wrestlers gaining experience from a successful and highly experienced club and high school Coach at a young age. To answer the initial question, not only can it be done but it should be. Barriers should be ripped down and college wrestling Coaches should be looking to pull these guys up to create a well-rounded support system. Athletic Directors need to look outside the current box at highly successful high school wrestling Coaches. Do the research to see if they can recruit college athletes and give more of these high school and club Coaches an opportunity.
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