Master of the matmen is Illinois Coach of the Year

Photo by Ann Gill COAL CITY HIGH School wrestling coach Mark Masters has been selected by the Illinois High School Association as its 2018-2019 Illinois Wrestling Coach of the Year. The honor automatically qualifies Masters for the National Federation of State High School Associations Coach of the Year Award.

Ann Gill

Under the leadership of Mark Masters, the Coaler wrestling team has earned multiple regional and sectional titles and qualified for the state’s dual team finals — resulting in trophies being added to the case. And, his guidance has led to multiple young men taking their place on the winner’s podium.

Now, the time has come for the coach to garner a bit of recognition and it’s coming from the association that oversees the state’s interscholastic competition.

About a month ago, Coal City High School principal Chris Spencer received a letter from the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announcing Masters had been selected as the 2018-2019 Illinois High School Association Wrestling Coach of the Year.

The honor bestowed by the IHSA’s administrative staff on a coach in each respective athletic program is based on results posted during the school year, as well as elements that include career success, sportsmanship and contributions to the sport.

“I am very excited and proud of our head wrestling coach,” Spencer said in making the announcement during the Unit 1 Board of Education’s October meeting.

“A lot of times when it’s Coach of the Year, it’s done for your class or your area, but he is the Coach of Year for Illinois. What a great accomplishment,” Spencer said.

“One thing about Coach Masters, I’ve worked with coach for a long time and I go to a lot of the wrestling meets and one of the things I am always proudest about is how our kids conduct themselves under his leadership. Wrestling can get a little tense and we’ve had some intense matches. “Whenever things start getting a little bit testy Mark is always the one who steps in, even if it’s the other team’s coach, and calms them down so the kids can go wrestle,” Unit 1 Superintendent Dr. Kent Bugg said.

Masters shares the success of the Coaler wrestling program with his wrestlers, their parents, team coaches and the community.

“I’ve been surrounded by great parents almost my entire career, and great kids,” the coach said.

Not only have his players found success on the mat, but they achieve in the classroom. Two of his student athletes have earned the title of Academic Wrestler of the Year.

He further notes his coaching staff is comprised of former student athletes.

“Throughout my career it always comes down to having great parents and great kids. I’m really lucky to be here in a good community that supports wrestling and parents who support what we are doing and the kids tolerate me through the season,” Masters said.

Ken P. Miller, president of the Board of Education, expressed the board’s congratulations. “I am proud of what he does and proud he represe, who finished the 2018-19 season with a second place finished in the class 2A dual team tournament and two individual first place finishes.

As the IHSA’s Wrestling Coach of the Year, Masters will be nominated for the national Coach of the Year honor bestowed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

The national awards are selected based on a committee review and results in the selection of eight section winners in each sport and one national recipient. Illinois is in a section that includes Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin.