As Tony Abbott coached the Southside wrestling team, he saw firsthand the value of parental involvement in children’s athletic activities. And for that reason, he now plans to step away as the Rebels’ coach after 18 seasons at the helm.
Abbott has coached Southside since the 1995-96 season, but he plans to resign to spend more time with his family. He has four children and plans to be more involved in their activities. He said he has told administrators at Southside that he plans to step down, though he has yet to submit a formal letter of resignation.
A Southside alum, Abbott coached Isaiah Bradley to the 152-pound state championship in 2012. Although Bradley was the only individual state champion he coached, Abbott took numerous other Rebels to the state meet during his tenure.
“Our program has been top-notch now for a long time, of course even before Tony, back when he wrestled here,” Southside athletic director Tom Lyon said. “But just the way he handles kids and handled kids, got the most out of them. That’s the kind of things that he did for us. He just ran his program, he ran it well. And that’s a hard thing to replace.”
Abbott said he believes the program is in good shape for his successor.
“There’s a lot of talent there now right now that’s coming back and that’s coming in,” Abbott said. “I would say it would be probably one of the top-five classes coming back that we’ve had. There’s definitely a lot of talent to work with.”
During his days as a wrestler at Southside, Abbott won the 152-pound state championship in 1990. He was one of two Rebels to win an individual crown that year (along with Marc Foreman,) and Southside won the team title in 1990. That was the last time a team from Delaware County won the state championship.
Abbott wrestled at the University of Indianapolis, where he was an All-American in 1994. He later returned to Muncie and quickly began coaching at his alma mater.
He said he plans to remain involved with the Southside program, but will be limited to volunteering as his schedule permits.
“I’ll be around,” he said. “That’s the first thing I told the kids, ‘I’m not dead.’ I’ll be around, and I’ll be there with my Muncie South shirt on. I just can’t be the first one in the door and the last one to leave.”
While he will be resigning his post, Abbott said he isn’t ruling out a possible return to coaching in the future when his children get older.
“It’s kind of hard to do when you’re raising your kids,” he said. “I think I’ve kind of went a little longer than I should have. But when my kids get grown, I’m sure that I’ll help out somewhere. I’ll have to do something to pass the time.”