Wrestling Coaching Staff Has a New Look

Isaac Gomez, Sports Editor

Matthew Hatcher has been coaching at Washington for the past 16 years.  Hatcher has coached all levels of football of 12 years, the Special Olympics for four, and wrestling for 16. Hatcher has resigned as head coach because he is going to the University of Iowa to get his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy.

Hatcher has been at the coaching level for the past 20 years. Wrestling has been his passion and it shows in his coaching style and expectations. “My goal is for every kid to accomplish something they never thought possible. So I would say my wrestlers and students think I’m pretty demanding.”

Hatcher is the person he his because of the sport and every day he coached he tried to spread his beliefs with the students “I think an honest effort, holding yourself accountable, and a good work ethic will get you where you want to go in life.”

Hatcher feels like anyone who goes out for wrestling will gain some sort of like skill, one way or the other. “Character is built when you have to keep your composure under stressful situations and stressful situations will happen all the time in wrestling.”

Whenever a person has a passion, no matter what it is, it is always hard to step away from it. When you set a goal that you want to accomplish it becomes even harder of a task. When asked how hard it was for Hatcher to leave he commented with, “Initially it was hard because I felt like we didn’t reach the goals I set for the program.”

Even if it was a hard choice to step down, Hatcher has a reason where he feels like he can help and make changes. “The longer I teach, the bigger impact I feel like I can make on the whole school. I believe I have the leadership skills to help students and staff reach their goals.”

Like some students, where they find themselves being restricted by education. Hatcher encourages students to keep trying and to overcome it. “I have never been the best student and academics are hard for me so pushing myself to overcome these difficulties puts me in a similar situation as many students. If I can do it, so can you!”

After coaching for 20 years it’s going to be something to get used to. From practicing everyday, being with the players everyday, and competing in matches spread out through the season. “I’ll definitely miss the daily grind of the season and the comradery that comes with it. But the most difficult part of not coaching is not getting to help kids reach their goals.”

As Hatcher steps down from the head coach position he plans on coming back to the program when he finishes school and he plans on staying at Washington. “My future includes continuing to improve my craft as a teacher, progressing the PE department to new heights, and eventually getting back to coaching.”

“I have built some very good relationships here and the staff at Washington High School is second to none, so I would miss them tremendously if I were to ever go somewhere else.” says Hatcher.

With the school looking for a new head coach the Athletics Director, Grant Schultz goes into detail with the process of looking for a new coach. “Ideally you’d like someone that is in the building that can build and maintain relationships with kids.”

Schultz talks about how they look for people in the building. But it doesn’t always end up like that. “There are times where I’ve had a couple of candidates applying for certain positions. Someone being inside the building and someone outside the building, and the person outside the building had more qualities that were desirable for the position.”

Grant emphasizes that having a coach inside the building is a great aspect because of the connections that the coach and player can have. It’s better for both to be able to see each other on a semi-regular basis.

John Graham who has been named the new head coach, and coaching by Hatcher’s side for the past 16 years, has the same expectations and goals for his players. “My expectations are to get all of my wrestlers individually better, so they can compete at the appropriate level.”

Graham was in his freshman year when his dad suggested that he go out for the wrestling team. Graham’s dad, like Hatcher, gained a lot of life lessons from being in wrestling and was heavily influenced by his coach.

So Graham then decided to go out for wrestling, and he continued to compete in the sport for all four years. When he went to Mount Mercy, they didn’t have a wrestling program and when he looks back on it he questions if he should’ve gone somewhere else to continue wrestling.

Nonetheless, Graham has always had some connection with the sport. When he started coaching at Washington 20 years ago, he was still in college.

When Graham received the news about being named the head coach he was excited about the opportunity but was also hard at the same time. “I liked coaching with Hatcher, so it was hard at first, but he wants to continue his education and get into administration. It’s tough to do all of that at the same time.”

Just because Hatcher is stepping down, it’s clear that the program is still in good hands. The players are used to having Graham as a coach. So the players know his expectations and his coaching style.

It’s clear that both of these coaches want the best for their players. They expect the absolute best and 100% effort on and off the matt. Hatcher has commented about what he expects from his players and he talks about his players coming back to him, “I tend to have better relationships with players and students after they graduate because the overall perspective of what I was trying to get out of them is clearer.”

The wrestling team will have a missing presence with Hatcher leaving but he is bound to come back when he finishes school. Graham is excited about the opportunity and is looking forward to the rest of the season.