Newly named Sugar-Salem head wrestling coach Scot Davis has tried to retire a couple of times but it never seems to stick — he loves wrestling too much.
Davis has translated that love into wrestling success over the past 46 years winning a national record-setting 1129 duals with only 197 losses at the high school level. He’s the winningest high school coach in the country and he’s decided to coach at Sugar-Salem high school.
“We’re excited,” said Sugar-Salem athletic director Jay Miller. “We’ve been so pleased and so honored to have Keven as long as we have but we’re looking forward to some really excellent years with (Scot).”
Coach Glider, who Davis is replacing, was impressed with Davis’ resume and the fact that he knows wrestling greats like Lee Kemp (3X NCAA champ), John Peterson, Berry Davis, Mike Moyer and Robert Ferrero.
“He’s a great coach,” Glider said. “He leads the nation in dual wins and has been around the sport. We’d never met until just recently and I’ve been around the sport a long time. So, I’ll pull out certain names and he pulls out a picture with somebody. Being from the midwest you’re around a lot of good wrestling and that’s where I was raised, born and raised around Iowa Des Moines. You see a lot of wrestling greats back there. So, you’re back in the heat of things back there. So, it’s interesting to see someone else with a lot of experience come in. That’s good for the school, good for the athletes and good for the program. I’m impressed with coach Davis.”
Miller expressed that several well-known individuals in the wrestling community have reached out to him to recommend Davis including long time rival coach Jim Jackson who coached against Davis for years.
Davis found out about Sugar looking at job listings in Idaho, then reached out to Sugar-Salem athletic director Jay Miller. The job felt like a great opportunity but Davis was a little surprised a coach would stop coaching such a successful program.
“When you apply to a job where the program’s been successful you wonder why someone’s leaving and a lot of time they’re not leaving you their best,” Davis said. “Something’s happened or they’re going downhill. But, with seven returning state place winners, it’s really not going to go downhill next year.”
Davis said that he’s chosen to join the Diggers because it’s close to his wife’s family who live in the Idaho-Washington area.
“Her parents have a house up in Sandpoint, I have nephews who live in Boise and then her sister and brother live in Spokane,” Davis said. “It’s no close but it’s a lot closer than Minnesota.”
He also likes the Diggers because of the quality program coach Glider and others have built.
“At my age, I don’t have time to build a program,” Davis said. “I wanted to come into a program where they already understand what winning is about and the work, effort and commitment that it takes to do that. That makes my job a lot easier coming into a program like that.”
Since Davis and longtime friend and assistant coach Larry Hovden arrived in Sugar, they’ve become even more impressed with the school and community.
“It’s been wonderful,” Davis said. “The people have just been great. Everywhere we go, even in the Motel we’re staying at, Quality Inn, they’re super. They have this old gentleman, Charlie, he’s awesome. The other thing I noticed is the upkeep of everybody’s places. That tells us that this community has great pride in itself. I think that’s why the athletics are so good.”
Scot has also been impressed with Sugar’s administrators.
“Jay Miller has been super to talk to and work with,” Davis said. “He has kind of a mild-mannered temperament, I like that,” Davis said. Then the facilities are as good as any.”
Davis also met many of the wrestlers who will be on his team next year.
“They seem like great young men,” Davis said. “I think the fact that not only were they state champions in wrestling but they were academic state champions that says a great deal to me about the kids that we’re going to be working with.”
Davis has coached at eight different high schools (and one college). 25 of those years were spent at Owatonna High School in Owatonna, Minnesota where he won two state Championships. Their 1998 state Championship team was ranked eighth in the nation and their 2005 team was ranked sixth.
Davis brings with him coach Larry Hovden who has coached with him for years.
“I called Larry and asked him if he’s be interested in coming out with me because he just retired. He was with me 25 years at Owatonna,” Davis said. “He was our junior high and youth coach and he did a great job. He’s great at that level. He says,’ I don’t know if I can swing that Scot.’ So anyway five minutes later I get a phone call and he says, ‘I asked Lynette, that’s his wife she said, “you need to go out with Scott,”’ I was shocked. So as long as we got the commitment from the bosses.”
Davis’ wife Mary won the National Wrestlers wife of the year in 1999 from Wrestling USA magazine.
“That kind of tells you how involved she can be,” Davis said. “She has been very helpful to me over the years. She is an extremely humble person never seeking recognition.”
Davis loves teaching wrestling because he believes he’s really teaching the young men about life.
“There are so many ups and downs,” Davis said. “You’re going to lose matches. You’re going to lose and I’ll tell you losing to another wrestler when you put so much time and effort in, it’s almost like losing a family member. It’s almost that tough. In the sport of wrestling you’re going to lose sometimes and you learn to deal with that, pick up your bootstraps and keep pushing on. That just simulates life. You’re going to have tough things happen in life and you have to be able to get through that and move forward. There’s nothing worse than losing a match. It’s one on one, everybody’s watching you. In other sports you can kind of hide. Maybe you had a bad play but they scored a touchdown. Wrestling you win and lose in front of everybody. “
Davis feels that every wrestler is important.
“Sure you have some kids who are great wrestlers and win a lot but you might have some wrestlers who might not have a very good record but I’ve always felt like it’s been my responsibility to work with everybody,” Davis said. “Every kid in our program is important to me. We’re here to build character and send those guys off into life with great work ethic and some honor and dignity.”
Davis is excited to inherit such a successful program.
“So I’m here and I want to keep this program going. I always want more maybe we can raise it to another level,” Davis said. “Maybe we could be nationally ranked. For a school this size that would be pretty good.”