Robin Moodry retires as BC wrestling coach

By Logan Parvinen

For the first time since the turn of the millennium, Butte Central will have a new head coach directing the Maroon wrestling program. Robin Moodry, who has been the head coach since 2000, is retiring from his role as head coach.

“There are some things that I’ve never done before that I would like to get done,” said Robin. “My winters consisted of wrestling week in and week out, and I just want to experience new things. I may hate it, but I still want to at least say I tried something new”.

Robin was a four-time all-state wrestler for the Butte High Bulldogs from 1989-1992. Robin wrestled and learned from the legendary Jim Street and wrestled all four years during the run of 12 straight team titles. Robin bumped up from 125 to 140 in his freshman year and still placed 5th at state. In his sophomore year, he finished 2nd behind 3x state champion and current Flathead High head coach Jeff Thompson. In his Junior year, Robin took 2nd behind 4x state champion, world champion, and current Team USA head coach Bill Zadick. In his senior year, he finished 3rd at state at 140 lbs.

Robin also played tailback for the Butte High football team and was the starting tailback of the legendary 1991 team that went undefeated under head coach Jon McElroy.

After high school, Robin wrestled at MSU-Northern for a year. After head coach Jason Liles transferred to South Dakota State, Robin went to UM-Western in Dillon, where he wrestled for a few years until they lost their program.

“After Western lost their (wrestling) program, I was trying to save my eligibility, hoping to wrestle. My work and other priorities came about instead, so I went into coaching.”

While Robin was the head coach for the Maroons, he was also working full-time, first with Montana Electric Motors and then with Montana Resources.

“I’ve been very fortunate to work at Electric Motors and Montana Resources. They were very good at working with me and figuring out vacation times. I was able to save the majority of my vacations for wrestling season. Both employers didn’t say anything about me not coaching, but I got my jobs done when I needed to get them done and didn’t leave them hanging.”

I sat down with Robin at his place of residency and asked him a few questions about his time as a coach and his plans for the future.

Butte Sports: What will you miss most about coaching? What are some things that will be hard to get away from?

Robin: It’s really tough to leave the kids; I enjoyed coaching them and being around them. It’s going to be pretty odd not being there at first. My Mondays through Saturdays have been with wrestling for the past 28 years, so the one thing I’ll miss the most is the camaraderie of being with the kids and seeing them improve.

When was the moment that you knew it was time to retire?

It just started dawning on me that I’m going to be 50 this year. I’m looking at retirement (from Montana Resources) in another 12 years. In the 28 years that I’ve been involved in coaching, there are things that I’ve never done before. I’ve never had a complete Christmas break or had the chance to go snowmobiling. I spend my Sunday’s ice fishing because that’s the day I get off, so I would sneak out and go to Canyon Ferry to ice fish. Who knows, I may hate it and be bored out of my mind, but I know I can always go back. It’s not something that has to be 100 percent permanent. Wrestling is a lot like family; everybody involved in the wrestling environment knows each other around here, and we all get along.

How has your coaching style changed since taking over in 2000?

Not long ago, with my son, he would come up to the practice room now and then and he would say, “Oh, dad, you changed. You are way lighter”. From the beginning, I learned from Jim Street and guys like him who demanded you to do things correctly, which is perfectly fine. So I walked into coaching with the mindset of having the kids do it my way.

I yelled a lot more back when I started, but my philosophy changed as I became more of a veteran coach. I wanted to be more engaged in teaching with the kids directly. You learn different ways of getting through to the kids throughout the years. Kids today take things differently; not to say they aren’t great athletes and great learners, but you can teach them to wrestle and have them do successful things without being belligerent. When you’re tense, it’s tough to do things correctly. When you’re loose, you’re going to have your best result.

Conditioning, for example, is always going to be grueling. However, there are ways to make it more enjoyable and rewarding. Positive attitudes for coaches and positive attitudes for athletes combined create successful programs. Wrestling is a tough sport to have fun in. If you want to be successful, you need to work hard. If you work hard with the right attitude, it makes it more enjoyable.

Was there a key to staying motivated as a coach while maintaining motivation for the wrestlers? 

I have been passionate about wrestling since I was five years old. Unfortunately, the minimum age to wrestle was six years old. My mom always tells a story about me wanting to wrestle when I was five, and she’d say when I turn five, I can wrestle. When my mom told me I had to be six to wrestle, I had a meltdown on the floor. That passion has always held onto me.

It really clicked for me in junior high that wrestling was going to be a sport that I was going to be successful at which meant I had to spend more time being a wrestler.

The wrestlers I coach see how passionate I am for the sport, which also motivates them. It’s not even whether you’re winning or losing all the time. Dustin Brown is a doctor, Nate Stillwagon is a doctor, Zach Hart is in his residency of being a doctor, Leonard Thurman is a big-time Lawyer, and Matt Stepan is the athletic director at Montana Tech. Those are the type of successes where wrestling helped them get through the grueling parts of being successful. Not just work-wise but family-wise as well. Life has ups and downs, and wrestling has ups and downs. I think there is a correlation between life and wrestling.

In the Central program, you do everything the same if you have a big program, just with fewer kids. But you still want every kid to be successful in their own right. Whether you have five kids, one kid, or 40 kids, you still have to put in as much time as you can with the kids. You have your two-hour practices, workouts, and conditioning the same as you would for a bigger program.

Robin would like to thank his family, Butte Central and the administration, all of the wrestlers he has coached, the football players that I had the opportunity to coach, all of the football and wrestling coaches that he got to coach with at Butte Central, to the Butte Wrestling Club and all of their involvement, and to all of the coaches, referees, and people that are involved in the sport of wrestling and football.

Thank you, Robin. Enjoy your retirement!