A fixture in the wrestling scene at Woodward has decided a quarter of a century is enough.
Duane Harney announced recently he would be stepping aside as head coach for the Beaver Creek Wrestling Club after spending the last 25 years instructing youth from Woodward, Granger, Madrid, Boone and surrounding areas.
"I just can’t get around like I used to," Harney quipped. "We have some great coaches here, some real outstanding volunteers and I know I am leaving it in good hands."
Those hands belong to Rick Sloss, who will become the leader of the mat club, which currently has approximately 60 youth signed up.
"You look around and what you see is his legacy," Sloss said of Harney, who spent 19 years as a W-G coach and five more years at the junior high level. "We would not have what we have today if it were not for him."
Beaver Creek is designed for youth in grade 2-6, but the club has accepted some younger students and often takes in middle school grapplers as well, part of Harney’s motto to "never turn any kid away."
"Dennis Field was my head coach, and when he got sick there was no one to take over the youth program, so I said I would do it," Harney said. "I have tried to do it as he would have. Our goal is to have state champions come out of this room, and we have certainly seen a great number of our kids go on to wrestle at the state tournament."
That said, Harney stressed his desire to keep the club as independent as possible from the W-G schools.
"I wanted this to be separate from the school, which is why I named it Beaver Creek Wrestling," he added. "Yes, we use the school’s wrestling room, but we have stayed completely separate and detached from them. That lets us do it our way, and a big part of that is not just teaching the kids how to wrestle, but also how to be disciplined, how to work hard, how to make the right decisions and stay out of trouble and live the right kind of life and I have to say we have.
"You look at the hundreds who have come through and you almost never, ever see one who has had trouble," Harney said. "Most of them are successful in whatever they have gone on to do and that is what we are really trying to do here. Wrestling is only going to last so long for a kid, but what he learns can last a lifetime."