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Greenwood coach was in program even during ‘break’

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Greenwood wrestling head coach Chris Campbell motivates one of his wrestlers during the Dec. 21 Johnson County Tournament at Indian Creek. Mike Wolanin / Daily Journal
Greenwood wrestling head coach Chris Campbell motivates one of his wrestlers during the Dec. 21 Johnson County Tournament at Indian Creek. Mike Wolanin / Daily Journal

Greenwood Community High School wrestling coach Chris Campbell considers himself to be a blend of the three men who have most influenced him.

The comparisons begin in Campbell’s hometown of Muncie, where his father, Paul, 73, is someone to be admired for his gentle nature and willingness to do things the right way.

The others are men who coached Campbell as he established a name for himself in wrestling circles.

First is the late Don Patton, who led Delta High School to five state team titles and produced a dozen individual champions, including Campbell. Campbell remembers how Patton would teach and coach the sport with equal levels of enthusiasm.

The fire Campbell, 51, has been known to showcase while one of his athletes is competing can be traced to Fran McCann, his coach at Indiana State University.

Sometimes the Paul, Don and Fran characteristics are only moments apart.

Or seconds.

“Coach is very calm and knows his technique very well. Anyone who needs help, he’s always there,” said Greenwood senior Bailey Schober, who is 31-1 in the 145-pound division after placing eighth in last year’s IHSAA state finals at 126.


What: IHSAA wrestling sectional

When: 9 a.m. Saturday

Where: Mooresville High School

Admission: $6

Teams: Center Grove, Decatur Central, Franklin, Greenwood, Indian Creek, Martinsville, Monrovia, Mooresville, Plainfield and Whiteland

“But last year after I won a match at state, he was jumping up and down. It was pretty funny.”

Campbell’s 16 winters leading the Woodmen program is broken into two parts. He was Greenwood’s coach from 1988 to 2001 before again taking over before the 2011-12 season.

He continued to be a presence during his so-called decade on the sidelines by coaching Greenwood’s middle school and freshman wrestlers.

“The main reason I left (in 2001), I think, was a little bit out of frustration,” said Campbell, who didn’t have nearly the support system he has today in terms of number of assistant coaches.

“I also wanted to spend some time with my son (Christopher), who was going to be a middle school wrestler,” Campbell said. “I love working with young people, and I enjoy teaching. I was already around our wrestling program in some capacity when I came back.”

Brian Smiley served as coach in 2010-11. However, Smiley’s role as Greenwood’s strength and conditioning coach made it difficult for him to devote as much time to wrestling as required.

In stepped Campbell. Again.

“Greenwood has done a very good job of making a commitment to the wrestling program. The knowledge Jay Yates brings helps a lot, and Mike Wiggin has a great relationship with the kids,” Smiley said of Campbell’s two main assistant coaches. “This allows Chris to do a lot of the things that a lot of times get pushed to the side.

“By having that constant communication with parents and kids off the mat, it helps get people on the same page.”

Campbell’s support system includes Yates, a former Center Grove wrestler and IHSAA state runner-up, along with Wiggin, Tim Schrader, Jimmy Gray, William Watson, Tim Welch and Matt Howe.

Even Smiley, who this school year added the title of assistant athletics director to an already crowded plate, makes it a point to contribute when his schedule permits.

“Brian still helps the team a lot,” Campbell said. “He’ll come up about once a week to help our wrestlers.”

Three years ago, Cambpell was teaching one of his wrestlers a move when he ruptured a disc in his neck. The injury, which to this day causes numbness in some of the fingers in his left hand, prevents him from physically exerting himself during practices the way he did in the past.

It’s here Yates, a 1995 Center Grove graduate who was a three-time state qualifier for the Trojans, is able to pass along his expertise.

“I would still like to be in there to do it, but those days are past,” Campbell said. “The difference this time around is that I have a lot more people around to help me. What I’m doing now is organizing the practices, and in the practice room I’m the one keeping the time and blowing the whistle.

“The intensity I bring to the boys, they know I’m going through the match with them.”

The blueprint Campbell would love to duplicate resides only a few miles away in No. 1-ranked Franklin.

To become and remain the consistent force the Grizzly Cubs have been under 28-year coach Bob Hasseman requires commitment from a lot of people down to the grass-roots level.

“In every weight class they are solid. That takes the parents getting involved and bringing their kids to our club wrestling practices,” Campbell said. “I think our club is as good as it’s ever been.

“We’ve got people here to help all the way down to the elementary level.”

That includes the main man himself.

The Campbell File

Name: Chris Campbell

Job: Greenwood wrestling coach

Age: 51

Born: Muncie

Family: Wife, Julie; son, Christopher, 22; daughter, Logan, 19

High school: Delta (1981)

College: Indiana State University (1985)

Major: Industrial technology

Favorite TV show: “Big Bang Theory”

Favorite movie: “Caddyshack”

Favorite athlete: Dan Gable

Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts

Did you know? Campbell was the 126-pound IHSAA state champion as a Delta senior in 1981, defeating Western’s Richard Shepherd in the final match to wrap up a 30-0 season. That same season, Delta also claimed its first of five consecutive team titles.

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