The saying that two heads are better than one pretty much summed up the new wrestling coaches at Boonville High School.
With Boonville Pirates wrestling coach Christian Stock stepping down at the end of the season to spend more time with his family, Boonville Athletic Director Chris Shikles and the Boonville R-I School Board acted quickly in naming the new head coach for the 2019-20 season.
But as it turned out, the two coaches were no strangers to the program as Kyle Newham will take over the head coaching position and Justin Hahn will be the associate head coach.
Boonville Athletic Director Chris Shikles said the administration is excited with the experience and passion for wrestling that Coach Newham brings to the program. “We are looking forward for years to come what Kyle brings to the table. We are also very excited for Justin. He is well respected in the wrestling community and we look forward to the passion he brings to Boonville wrestling also.”
Newham is definitely no stranger to wrestling or the Boonville community for that matter. In his 18th year in the Boonville R-I School District, Newham came on to the scene as an assistant under former coach Jeff Francis from 2001-02. Meanwhile, after taking over as head coach for nine years from 2002-2011, Newham stepped down to be the assistant under coach Christian Stock for eight seasons.
Newham is also a two-time state champion while wrestling at Richmond High School and also competed in wrestling at Missouri Valley Conference in Marshall.
Hahn is also no stranger to the wrestling program at Boonville. A 1997 graduate of Versailles High School, where he wrestled for four years and was a state medalist, Hahn went on to wrestle one year at Meramec Community College in St. Louis before transferring to Missouri Valley College.
In addition to coaching in the Boonville Youth Wrestling Club, Hahn has also coached at LSE the last two years.
The following is a question and answer with Kyle Newham and Justin Hahn about the Boonville wrestling program:
Q: What’s it like bringing Justin into the program as an associate head coach?
A: Newham-It’s a good opportunity to get a good wrestling mind and somebody that is really passionate about wrestling. Obviously in the program he has worked a ton with the junior high and the youth club for a lot of years. There are a lot of kids that have graduated that he has had since they were 6-7 years old all the way through. The opportunity came up and obviously anytime you can get somebody else in who has the real passion and a drive that wants to do something like that it really gives him an opportunity, where by me being the head coach this year, that gives him an opportunity to get in here and learn the system and get everything down and run with it the way he wants to do things.
Q: What is your plan for this summer as far as getting these kids involved in wrestling?
A: Newham-Right now, we are in the beginning stages of getting everything sent out all the way to the summer as far as open mat opportunities for all the kids. When we met this morning at the meeting with the kids we kind of stressed to them that the other schools in the conference are doing these type of things and we need to get on board and be more active and try to recruit kids out and get them back on the mat because one day a week isn’t going to kill any of the kids to go out there and get some wrestling in.
Q: What about the goals of the program. Have you talked about what you want to accomplish?
A: Newham-Not really. I know one thing that coach Hahn really stressed to the kids is filling in the weight classes. Christian (Stock) has done a good job getting numbers up as we go and continuing with the kids that were out this past year and having them come back out and bring a friend. He told a story about how he got started and how it was just one of those things where a kid came up to him and said are you going to practice today and then low and behold its 25 years later where he is in this situation. Some kids maybe don’t really think that wrestling is a sport for them. Everybody is different. Some kids fall in love with it and say this is the best thing I have done my whole entire life. So it’s just recruiting the kids because I have went through the really lean years and some of it was maybe on me, where you go to a dual and you have 6-7 opens and you know realistically you may win every match but you lose the dual. I think that is kind of part of the reason why we had the success that we did this year. For example we had a 106 pounder. I can’t remember the last time we had a 106 pounder.
Q: How receptive where the kids when they found out you were going to be the head coach and Justin was going to be the associate head coach?
A: Newham-Justin has been involved with so many of these kids from the very beginning. I know it sounds crazy but it’s a new coach but it’s not a new coach to them. They have went with him and they have seen his passion and worked with him. With that being the case, it has taken the new off. Obviously it was a good reception but I think on the same aspect there was a comfort level because the kids returning know me and the kids that showed up to the meeting know him anyways.
Q: How important is it to get the junior high and kids club back going to what it used to be?
A: Hahn-Very important. You look at our state qualifiers and state medalists, they’ve all had youth experience whether its through Boonville, Eierman or Purler. Dalton Williams is the first guy to come in here with no experience. It’s very hard to step in and win a state medal. You look at the best youth programs and it seems like they have 10 youth coaches. They may have one coach but they have help. Newham is already going to be a big help because he has a kid wrestling. I am a fan of wrestling and I want them to get involved with the high school where they maybe wrestle before the varsity team.
Newham-I think it’s kind of tough. I think it does make a difference when a coach takes an interest in the junior high program or the youth club. It’s a little bit more familiar for the kids just like it is like I think it’s going to be a good transition with Justin. Say you are with that kid when he is 6-7 kind of helping him learn the ropes and then it’s kind of one of those things, hey, one of these years you are going to wrestle for me so you get to know them more as a kid and a person. Justin has kind of already laid the foundation because he and Summer (Young) have already did the powerhouse for the last couple of years so there are younger kids that maybe wouldn’t have got involved in stuff like that and he is down there because you know how important it is to build relationships with those kids and stuff like that.
Q: What do we need to do to get this program where it is competitive year in and year out?
A: Hahn-You are going to need numbers and guys wrestling. Wrestling is definitely evolving but it still has it’s core foundation that doesn’t change.
Q: What is your philosophy on wrestling?
A: Hahn-You have to have an answer for every position you are put into, so a lot of times kids get in situation they don’t know what to do. I am a big technique guy and I study technique.
Q: What are we missing?
A: Hahn-I think we are getting beat with other teams having more experience. If you take a kid and the season is three months long and you take a kid that has been wrestling all year long against a guy that has been training two months it’s hard to win that match. I like Purler and Eierman a lot but we want to make it available here. Really you have two coaches that wrestled in college so the knowledge is here.
Newham-To me the biggest thing is the more time you spend on the mat the better you are going to be. However in every season you only have so many practices so with that being the case if you are not getting more practices in it is really kind of tough to be able to get more of the advanced things. If you don’t go and do that extra stuff than you may only learn one and that may be the reason you get beat in a match because a kid did something and the day they were doing that in practice you didn’t show up for practice. We have some really kids in the room and I think the big thing I am kind of a believer that if I am really good I need to try and help you get better. Obviously the coaches are doing the best they can but in the same aspect it’s showing them the right way to do things. For example if I am correct on this in the history of Boonville, we have never had a returning state champion comeback the next year. Everybody that has won it has been a senior. So with that being the case we have to use Brant (Whitaker). Somebody like that is going to have to be a leader with the way they work and getting kids on board to do stuff. There is not many teams in the state that are going to have state champions in the room and obviously he has years ahead to add to that total. In a perfect world me and Justin would like to see it to where it’s ok yes you are an outstanding wrestler but have you made your practice partner better. That’s what we need from the kids.
Q: How do you feel about having basically two head coaches?
A: Newham-We have been around each other enough that I know he is going to do a good job. If he has questions and different things like that I am going to be there to try and answer it the best I can. But it’s like I told Chris Shikles, I want him to put his stamp on it. I know what we are going to get in Justin and we are going to get a really solid coach in there that is going to do a good job. For me if I can help him in a couple of areas just over the course of the season than that’s kind of what I am there for. This is Justin’s show and he is going to be the one. I am just going to be a person that can bounce ideas off of him.
Hahn-First of all I am grateful that Coach Newham is even doing this with me. This is my dream and I get to work with coach and learn from him. The thing about Coach Newham is that he is a knowledgeable wrestler so he knows wrestling and he understands it. I think that’s what makes this work. When you have two wrestlers working together and have done it before, you may see something new but at the end of the day we want to make the wrestlers better.