Mike Day didn’t get into coaching necessarily to win, he wanted to teach.
Teach football, teach track, teach wrestling.
He just happens to have done it so well, that winning has come along with it.
A head wrestling coach at Centerville High School for 12 years, Day recently earned career wrestling victory No. 250.
“It’s pretty cool,” Day said. ” … It just shows that I’ve been able to coach good kids over a 15-year time span and the program was already ready to blossom when you took over.”
There could have been no place more appropriate to do it too, than at the Lincoln 6-way, where Day has led the Bulldogs to 13 invitational championships.
It is also where he believes he made his head coaching debut after being an assistant under Keith Isaacs.
“I’ve been blessed to be in a good situation,” Day said. “I have a good administration that supports the wrestling program, good parents and families that have bought into the wrestling program in general, which has helped keep kids that want to win.”
The Bulldogs went 5-0 on Dec. 1 to win this year’s installment of the Lincoln 6-way too, and Day has a 259-86 record after Saturday.
“Obviously you want to win but you didn’t think of a specific number of wins,” Day said. “It’s funny, you evolve as a coach over time. Where we started to where we are now, coaching is different for me. I think it is a great responsibility to be a mentor — that’s more important to me than wins and losses. … To have that many wins you have to have a supportive family too.”
Winning comes with that. Day has TEC wrestling titles in 2002, 2006 and 2007 as well as sectional championships in 2002 and 2005. He has coached five state finalists: Denver King (2001), Todd Floore (2002), Matthew Rohe (2005), Kenny Pipenger (2006) and Joey Brown (2007).
He also has a 103-30 record as Centerville’s girls track coach, winning TEC titles in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007, while mentoring nine track state finalists.
“If we’re not battling for (the TEC) we’re right in the mix, and that’s a testament to our kids and our work ethic,” Day said.
Day has earned respect from the rest of the conference, too. Lincoln wrestling coach Ryan Ragen was on the other end of No. 250 for Day and Northeastern’s Bronson Curtis of 254.
“I’ve known Mike for a long time. He’s become a friend, kind of a mentor. He’s one of the funnest coaches to be around, always has a great team,” Ragen said. “I’m always excited for that 6-way just to see who he has and where they’re at in the weight classes and I think it’s an honor to have that many wins. Hopefully some day, I can be there. He’s been a mentor to me the last few years, and I’m very happy for him.”
Curtis and Day have worked together in getting younger wrestlers in the area mat time. He had praise for Day and his wrestlers too, including recent graduate Keifer Uphaus, who was an assistant for Curtis for a year.
“Mike Day’s a good guy, good coach. He always has good products that come out of Centerville. We had one of his products a year ago, Keifer Uphaus, coach here for a season, and still would be coaching if he didn’t enlist (in the military),” Curtis said.
” … Mike Day always has a good team. They’re always well-mannered, they always have good character, they’re always real personable and, in a sport like this, sometimes kids can lose their head a little bit, and I’ve never had an issue like that with any of his kids.”
But Day’s biggest sport was football. He played that for four years at Centerville High School and wrestled only his senior year.
He said he didn’t know much about wrestling. His coaching has not only taught his wrestlers, but Day has learned as well.
He has coached the Bulldogs’ JV and junior high football programs as well as assisted the varsity, while balancing with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and student council.
“It’s been exciting, we’ve had some really good teams and looking forward to more,” Day said. “I am a Bulldog; I bleed blue. I’ve been bleeding blue my entire life; (250 wins is) cool and I want more. As a coach I’m not going to stop wanting more until I’m done.”