O’Hare teaches student-athletes much more than wrestling

It’s easy to see where Hillsboro High School wrestling coach Scott O’Hare developed his love for wrestling. He began wrestling at about age 5 with a local club team in his hometown of Norcatur, a small town in northwest Kansas on Highway 36 between Oberlin and Norton.

O’Hare was a three-time Class 3-2-1A State qualifier at Decatur Community High School in Oberlin, placing in the top six all three years, and top four his junior and senior year.

He continued his education and wrestling career at Central Missouri State University, an NCAA Division II program. However, after suffering a back injury, O’Hare had to give up competitive wrestling midway through his sophomore year. He transferred to Fort Hays State University to finish his teaching degree.

While at Fort Hays State, O’Hare started coaching high school wrestling for three seasons and middle school football for two seasons at Ellis High School.

In addition to coaching wrestling for the past 27 years at Hillsboro High School, O’Hare teaches sciences for grades 9-12, including physical science, physics, meteorology, principles of engineering, and geographic information systems.

There’s no doubt that O’Hare is passionate about the sport. When I asked him what makes wrestling a great sport for young people, he said, “This is where you should have asked me to be brief.

“First, the combination of mental and physical toughness needed to compete in this sport is something everyone can learn important life lessons from,” said O’Hare. “It is a tough sport, and individuals that stick with it have no choice but to get tougher mentally and physically.”

O’Hare says that wrestling is a highly skilled sport, but skill alone doesn’t guarantee success. “With proper training, attitude, and work ethic, anyone can be successful regardless of their size,” said O’Hare. Wrestlers compete in 14 weight classes, from 106 lbs to 285 lbs.

According to O’Hare, wrestling is one sport that requires the use of the entire body and all muscle groups at all times. “Athletes in many other sports can benefit greatly by developing certain muscle groups. Wrestling requires the development of both muscular strength, as well as flexibility, in all muscle groups,” said O’Hare.

O’Hare said: “I personally love that success and failure is ultimately all on the individual. It is a true test of strength, speed, and skill, in a one-on-one situation. No one else can take credit for your success, and there is no one to blame if you lose. I personally believe this aspect helps more than any other in developing character.”
Because of the different weight classes, wrestlers need to make the weight class for each competition, requiring them to learn to properly manage their diet and weight throughout the season. “This requires an incredible amount of discipline and teaches them self-control and the need to make sacrifices,” said O’Hare.

Building a program takes time. O’Hare stresses the positive aspects of wrestling, such as character development, mental and physical toughness, perseverance, strong work ethic, discipline, etc., not only in the youth program, but also at the high school and middle school levels, more so than just winning matches. “As a staff, we feel that the winning will take care of itself if the wrestlers can buy into the process,” he said.

Coaching has its ups and downs, but there’s plenty that O’Hare finds satisfying. “Being in their corner to support and celebrate their successes, especially when their hard work pays off, but also being there to lift them up during hard times,” he said. “I guess in the end, the most satisfying thing is the relationships that I hope to have built with them through their time in the wrestling program. I love having alumni reach out to update me about things happening in their life, inviting me to college graduations, weddings, and other life events.”

It’s easy to root for O’Hare. He has an amazing perspective that is wonderfully admirable throughout life.

“Athletes that buy into wrestling learn perseverance,” said O’Hare. “It is a process and a journey to become successful. They have to learn from every experience, and trust that not all victories result in their hand being raised, but rather the lessons they learn.”

Well said, coach!

More from Joe Kleinsasser
To play or not play football, that is the question
What?s a parent to do when a child wants to play football?...
Read More