KIRKSVILLE - After eight seasons and two state titles Kirksville head coach Kevin Powell has decided that this will be his last season coaching the Tiger wrestling program.
Powell told his team and the Kirksville R-III School Board Wednesday he intends to resign as a coach and teacher following the school year. He plans to pursue a lifetime dream and become a conservation agent with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
“I don’t know if there is ever a perfect time to do anything, and it was starting to become if not now, when. However, I couldn’t do anything without the support of my wife and family,” said Powell.
Powell is leaving the program after taking it to heights that hadn’t been seen in the school’s athletic history. Kirksville sports have four team state championships in the school’s history. Powell has led teams to two of them.
“Kirksville has always had a really good wrestling team and program. I feel like I have just done my part to help the program reach the potential everyone thought it always had,” said Powell.
Powell knows the history of the program as well as anyone. He not only wrestled as a Tiger, but was also a member of the Kirksville Kids Club program.
After wrestling in college, Powell was working in field biology in South Carolina when Jeff Jacques gave him a call and let him know there was an opening that would likely spark his interest.
“To be honest, I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I took the job. Things were going OK for me, but I was getting home sick, so it really seemed like great timing. I didn’t really know anything about the program or any of the kids who were coming up,” said Powell.
Powell’s first meeting with his new and old team wasn’t exactly what he was expecting.
“In our first team meeting I remember we had like 15 guys show up and I looked around the room and thought, ‘This is all we got,’” said Powell.
Since then the Tigers have averaged between 25-30 wrestlers a season.
Building a team doesn’t rely on strictly talent, a coach has to build a culture and have the support of his athletes and their families.
“I have been blessed with great wrestlers, hard workers, and supportive families. That has been a huge bonus for me and definitely a big reason for our success,” said Powell.
The program is vastly different from when Powell took over. That makes for higher standards and different expectations. He feels that like the program as a whole, the support system and community support is just as strong.
“I think a lot of the support structures are going to remain in place. The kids club is as strong as ever. Coach Hooper doesn’t have plans on going anywhere. If there is an ‘Oz’ behind the curtain it is coach Hooper. So I think all those are in place and I know the program has the support of the school district and I think they will do a great job of finding the next guy,” said Powell.
As much as wrestling has been a part of Powell’s life, there has always been one thing that has been his dream job.
“I have been volunteering at the conservation department since career day back in middle school. Being a conservation agent has always been one of those life long type dreams. From the first time I knew I had to have a job, I knew this is what I wanted to do,” said Powell.
Powell will close out the remainder of the season with the Tigers as they look to capture the program’s third state title.