It’s the kids that kept him coming back.
After 15 years of coaching in wrestling, Nechako Valley Secondary’s Travis Himmelright is recognized as coach of the year by the North Central District Schools Athletic Association.
“To watch them develop and their confidence grow, and to provide them with an experience that they may never achieve again,” Himmelright said. “For example, you take kids to nationals; it’s often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
For him, sports is an opportunity to teach life lessons that transcend the physical experience.
“The healthy living, hard work and dedication breeds success,” he said. “You’re a hard worker in sport, [you’re] a hard worker in life…you’re going to be successful.”
Though he was also involved with volleyball, track and field, and soccer as a student, wrestling was the sport that he excelled at.
“It’s an individual sport, where you get out what you put into it,” Himmelwright explained. “You don’t necessarily need to rely on a team.”
As a fringe sport that lacks popularity, he feels that wrestling may not be well understood, though it is one of the oldest Olympic sports.
“A bit like a chess match, there are multiple moves or counter moves,” he said. “You can never know them all.”
During his sports career, Himmelright grew up with several coaches, who provided him with different perspectives and techniques on the game. Likewise for the Viking wrestling team, assistant coaches Sean Ebert and Jeff Verduzco were recognized for five years of contribution this year.
“Someone did it for me and it changed my life,” he said. “I’m giving back.”
Coaching and travelling are the fun parts of the job, while administrative tasks and financial matters associated with running a team such as fundraising and paperwork are time consuming.
“That’s one of my roles; a lot of roadblocks to be swept away,” Himmelright said.
This year, four Viking wrestlers were placed top six in high school national championships, and NVSS’s wrestling was team of the year in 2014-15.
NVSS’s wrestlers are historically successful in their high school zone, winning 15 times in the last 35 years.