CCMS’ Monroe receives rare honor
Monroe named assistant coach of the year
by Kevin Hensley
Clear Creek Middle School wrestling head coach Walt Monroe was recently named the Georgia Wrestling Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year.
“Walt Monroe is a friend and a brother to all of us coaches,” Gilmer High School coach Sam Snider said. “He coaches young men as if they were his own children. Walt has been foundational to our success ever since he arrived in Gilmer County. He is very deserving of this award. His desire to positively affect young people in a positive way is legendary.”
The recognition of a middle school coach is highly unusual, which speaks to the level of success Monroe has achieved. Before coming to Gilmer County, Monroe plied his craft in the Effingham County and the Dublin school systems. During his five years as head coach at Dublin High School, he led the Irish to the traditional state title in 2002, the traditional and dual state titles in 2004 and a runner-up for both in 2005.
In his 23rd year as a wrestling coach, he pointed to the move to Ellijay in 2005 as a key component to his success.
“I wanted to step back and not be a high school coach anymore,” Monroe said. “I’d go to interviews and they would have figured out for me how I could work on my Master’s (degree) … but I’d be the head coach at the high school. It was like, ‘You’re not hearing what I’m saying. If I wanted to be the head coach at the high school, I wouldn’t be leaving what I’m leaving.’ Sam (Snider) was the only one that heard what I was saying. Things kept falling in place, and Gilmer County was where we ended up moving.”
One of the first pieces of the puzzle he set in place was an adjustment to the now fully-operational youth program, which acts as a feeder system for the middle and high school ranks.
“(When I) came here, the league season was ending in December, which it still does,” he said. “I was like, ‘Really? You’re going to stop wrestling in the middle of the season?’ And they were like, ‘Well, what do we do?’ And I said, ‘Well, one of the things is I would start getting these kids involved in USA Wrestling.’ That’s something that really took off.”
Monroe just finished his fourth season as head coach of the CCMS wrestling program, and his squad has clinched a league championship as recently as 2013. He remains active in both the USA and high school programs, aiding where he can during an almost year-round schedule.
Hesitant to give thanks to one individual for his award, Monroe elected instead to disperse credit throughout the entire Gilmer County wrestling program.
“Instead of focusing on me, I think it says more about the program,” Monroe said. “I don’t feel like an award like that would have been given out if things weren’t going on like they were at the high school. We’ve got 15 state championships, and to be specific, 11 of those would’ve been with kids that had come through this middle school program while I was here.”
He concluded, “My point is, there’s been a few that we’ve sent up that you might classify as ‘superstars.’ But at the middle school, we’re just trying to coach them on the basics and fundamentals. If it wasn’t for what continues on from the great work of the high school coaches, we wouldn’t have 15 state championships at this point. It’s not just about one individual; it’s a reflection of the entire program.”
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