You are the owner of this article.
Watson prepares for next phase

Watson prepares for next phase

{{featured_button_text}}

For longtime Wilmot wrestling coach and social studies teacher John Watson, his time in education has been far more than just a job.

It’s a calling and a passion.

But as is the case with anything in life, there also comes a time to start a new chapter, and depending on how the Panthers do at today’s WIAA Division-1 sectional tournament, his 42-year run, including the last 31 as the Wilmot head coach, will come to an end.

“My head feels like it’s full of memories,” Watson said. “I don’t know how much more room there is for memories in there. It’s cool that we’ve had a lot of great successes with the program over the years, but I should be thanking everybody, because it’s enriched my life so much.

“The hundreds, hundreds and hundreds of great people who have come through and have made my life better is amazing.”

Watson’s resume stands on its own — 342 dual meet victories, seven conference titles, 65 individual conference champions, 38 WIAA State Meet qualifiers (including at least one the last 19 years), 24 wrestlers who have medaled, six who have made it to the final and three individual state champions.

Wilmot Athletic Director Herm Christiansen, who is in his 26th year with the school and taught social studies with Watson, gave his soon-to-be former colleague glowing praises.

“The most important thing about John was he was always about the kids,” Christiansen said. “He didn’t want the fame or glory. In fact, I know he hates everything about this celebration he’s gotten this year.

“You always know where John is because there are 10 kids around him, soaking up whatever it is he has to say. Wilmot will never quite be the same without him in these hallways.”

And while Watson is best known for his work as a wrestling coach, including many years at rival Central, he’s also been a head soccer coach, an assistant football coach, a pole vault coach and dabbled in cross country as well.

“He was the coach who would coach just about anything and be great at it,” Christiansen said.

All the accolades aside, however, it’s in the practice room — named for him — where Watson draws his most joy.

Once a teacher and a coach, always a teacher and a coach.

“I love teaching kids to wrestle,” he said. “I stopped missing competitions years ago. I do it, I enjoy it, but really what I enjoy is being in there showing kids how to do a great sport and how to enjoy it.

“We tell them all the time, ‘We’re not trying to teach you to wrestle, we’re trying to teach you to be people.’ They’re not going to wrestle the rest of their lives. They’re going to have to function in society, have a family, those are the lessons we’re trying to push the hardest. That’s what makes you the proudest, when you graduate good people.”

Plenty of memories

Watson said his son, Zack’s victory in a dual meet against Waterford that clinched a conference title and each of the program’s individual state champions rank among a lifetime of memories he will take with him.

“That locked down the conference title for us,” he said. “That was pretty special.”

Jeff Canella won the program’s first title in 2003 at 140 pounds, followed by Tommy Creutz in 2005 at 152 pounds and Mark Wilson in 2007 at 135.

“Each of our state champs were special kids in their own right,” Watson said. “I can’t take credit for those guys. They were wonderful athletes, and they were also very different from each other. They were just gifted.”

Watson also was quick to give credit to the number of assistant coaches he’s worked with through the years.

“I’ve been blessed,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot of accolades throughout the years, but the truth of the matter is I’ve been blessed with some of the best assistant coaches money could buy.

“... These guys have coaching experience way beyond Wilmot and they always make me look good. They’re the ones who put the names on the wall. I just get a good seat.”

Brotherly battle

Watson’s brother, Bill, is a former longtime wrestling coach himself at Central, and as Southern Lakes Conference rivals, there were plenty of head-to-head matchups between the two after years of working together.

But always friendly, Watson said, regardless of who came out on top.

“We had some great duals,” he said. “We had more fun, we really did. We’re best friends.”

0
0
0
0
0

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Editor’s note: “Who We’d Be Watching” highlights county athletes who would be competing in spring sports if not for their cancellation due to …

Editor’s note: “Who We’d Be Watching” highlights county athletes who would be competing in spring sports if not for their cancellation due to …

Editor’s note: “Who We’d Be Watching” highlights county athletes who would be competing in spring sports if not for their cancellation due to …

Editor’s note: “Who We’d Be Watching” highlights county athletes who would be competing in spring sports if not for their cancellation due to …

Editor’s note: “Who We’d Be Watching” highlights county athletes who would be competing in spring sports if not for their cancellation due to …

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics