Congratulations to our coach of the month for November 2019, Jamie Varner!

  • Current Head Wrestling Coach, Chaparral High School: Sept. 2019 – Present
  • Former Head Coach, Notre Dame Preparatory: Oct, 2017 – March 2019
  • Former Professional MMA Fighter; Former WEC Lightweight Champion
  • 2-Time Regional Wrestling Champion, State Runner-Up at Deer Valley High School (AZ)
  • 2-Time National Qualifier, National Runner-Up, NJCAA All-American at Pima CC (AZ)

Coaches Corner: 5 Questions

1. What are your thoughts on the current state of high school wrestling?

According to the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA), numbers have been decreasing as far as participation for men, but they have been growing for women, and the trajectory for women’s growth is crazy. I have three girls on my team now. While overall numbers are going down, though, the skills of high school wrestlers are going up. With today’s competitiveness, I don’t know if I’d even make it to the state finals like I did.

2. What do you think about sport specialization?

Urban Meyer says he doesn’t recruit “football players” but he recruits athletes. I think throwing a ball, swinging a bat, swimming, playing soccer, playing football – all those sports I played gave me skills that feed off each other. To be a well-rounded athlete, you need to play other sports. I have a few freshman linemen on my team, and I told them if they care about football, they’ll wrestle.

3. What are some tips you have for dealing with parents?

I always come at them with a compliment, and I try to stay away from the negative. I always refer to their kid as “Stud” or “Champ” or something else empowering or positive. I tell them how great their kids are, or how much of a joy it is to have them on my team. I always engage them with positivity.

4. What are your thoughts on social media and high school athletes?

I want to let kids be themselves, so in a way I don’t really care what they do, but if they’re going to be inappropriate or hateful, they’re not going to be on my team. Accountability is a big thing to me, and so is learning from mistakes. They’re kids and they’re fallible. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying sometimes, they’re just regurgitating things they’ve heard other people say.

5. What’s some advice you have for other coaches?

You’re going to make mistakes. I’ve made so many. I said something to a kid once after a match, I said it was “disgraceful.” I felt so terrible…he tried as hard as he could. Afterwards, he was upset and asked me why, and in that moment, I felt two inches tall. I apologized, and that was one of the biggest moments of my life. What I said came from my expectations projected onto him, and as a coach, I should’ve done a better job of teaching him the skills he needed. I should’ve come from a place of love instead of ego. Our words can change the course of a kid’s life.