LHW: There have been teams throughout the decades that have had some success for a short while, but that success seems to fade away. What’s the formula at MacArthur? How are your teams able to perform consistently at a high level?
HOWIE: We believe in the kids and our ability to take a kid with desire and a good attitude and turn him into a TOP wrestler. We expect the kids to come into the room and work hard from the minute practice starts to when it ends. We expect them to be at practice on time and ready to work hard.
We have no tolerance for slacking. If that’s the kind of attitude you’re bringing into the room, we don’t want you in the room…We may want you, but only if you’re ready to change your attitude: That means coming to practice on time, working hard for the entire practice, and committing to the goals we set as a team. As a coach, I can’t let the kid with the wrong attitude bring down the team. If I do, I failed the entire team, and I can’t let allow that to happen. He [the wrestler] needs to either change his attitude, or he wouldn’t be on the team for very long.
My attitude is that potential doesn’t win matches, so I’m focused on work ethic. That’s what wins matches. We want the kids who are committed to working hard because that’s what’s required to win in this sport. I want realized potential, and realized potential is what you get when you work hard. But I have a responsibility there to push them hard, and that’s what we do. We push them really hard.
You hear many coaches talk about the great team that they will have in three or four years, and it never materializes. We don’t concentrate on that; we concentrate on the team we have now. That’s what’s most important: getting the most from the kids you have in the room right now, so that’s where we focus because there is no time like the present. If you live in the future, you’re not focusing on what you need to do to win now.
My primary focus is on the juniors and seniors. It’s the upperclassmen’s job to take care of the underclassman. This is how it’s done here. The upperclassmen know to do this because when they were the underclassmen, they were taken care of by the upperclassmen. I’ll worry about the underclassmen when their day comes.
The coaching staff and I worked very hard to create a tradition here at MacArthur. To be on the wrestling team is to be part of something special – something bigger than oneself. That’s attractive to all people and especially kids. It’s very much a family atmosphere here at MacArthur. When you’re on the wrestling team, your parents are too. We want them involved and the parents have been a large factor in our success as a team. They help with the entire fund-raising, supporting us as fans, pitching in to help where they can to support MacArthur wrestling.