Republic High School has hired Eric Nolan as its new head wrestling coach. Nolan comes to Republic from Warsaw. Before that, he had served as head coach at Har-Ber High School in Springdale, Ark., leading that program to a state championship and two runner-up finishes. He served as head coach at Buffalo before that.
“When I was in Buffalo, we came to Republic’s tournament every year. I just always thought the program had a lot of potential and the community would be a great place to be,” Nolan said.
Nolan has ten years of coaching experience – sometime at programs with winning traditions and sometimes at programs where he was starting from scratch.
“I’ve taken over teams where there was some tradition… and high expectations, and we were expected to get trophies and contend for titles. I’ve also had the experience of building programs, to turning programs around in a very short time,” he said. Nolan said a key to improvement in all his previous jobs has been his focus on younger wrestlers.
“I spend a lot of time with youth clubs and middle school kids,” he said. “Wherever I go, I’m making a strong effort to help kids become exposed to wrestling and try it out. In the long run, that pays off – being an advocate for my sport.”
Nolan said he has seen the quality of wrestling in southwest Missouri rise over the past 10 to 20 years, to the point that more teams from this area are competing for state titles. That increase in qualify makes the improvement of youth wrestling even more important.
“A lot of times, you’ve got to have some experience coming in. They’re wrestling middle school season (and) competition in the club,” he said. “My goal is sooner rather than later to have kids coming in as freshmen who are ready to go. They may not be ready to win a state title yet, but they know what challenges they face.”
Beyond success on the mat, Nolan said he expects his wrestlers to be leaders elsewhere in the school, too.
“Character is a very important thing to me, and there are some things I won’t compromise. That’s one of my goals coming in – let the kids know there’s an expectation of performance and off-season work, but there’s an even higher expectation of certain standards when it comes to that: how you act, how you’re treating people in the halls, academic performance. We work on that stuff at the youth level and all levels,” Nolan said.
To grow any program, he said, he has to introduce students to the sport and let them make a decision for themselves.
“(Wrestling) is not for everybody, but it’s for some people. I take that very seriously as a part of my job – to go out and get kids to try it.”