Warriors’ Seed named top SED coach

Published 8:38pm Saturday, March 2, 2013

Coach James “Tripp” Seed guided the 2012-13 Nansemond River wrestling team to a regular season record of 23-12 and fifth place in the district. Then, in the district tournament, the team climbed to fourth, with 12 wrestlers placing in the top six spots and eight moving on to the regional tournament.

For his demonstrated ability to shepherd a successful wrestling program, Seed was named by a committee of his peers in the district as the Southeastern District Coach of the Year.

Nansemond River head wrestling coach Tripp Seed, left, shouts instructions to junior Caleb Repko as Seed and assistant coach John Bostwick take in the Eastern Region heavyweight championship match at Oscar Smith High School on Feb. 9. Seed credited the success of Repko and other wrestlers on the team with helping him win the award for 2012-13 Southeastern District Coach of the Year.
Nansemond River head wrestling coach Tripp Seed, left, shouts instructions to junior Caleb Repko as Seed and assistant coach John Bostwick take in the Eastern Region heavyweight championship match at Oscar Smith High School on Feb. 9. Seed credited the success of Repko and other wrestlers on the team with helping him win the award for 2012-13 Southeastern District Coach of the Year.

“It felt good to get (the honor), considering that we don’t have a middle school program,” Seed said. “These kids, it showed the hard work that they put into it. I feel like I’m finally getting to it now where this is my sixth year, I’m getting to the point where these kids are buying into my system of wrestling, starting to have confidence in themselves, confidence in the stuff I’m teaching, and starting to believe that they can win matches against kids from Chesapeake.”

The Chesapeake schools produce stiff competition because they have middle schools feeding them already-experienced wrestlers. All but two of Seed’s 14 wrestlers started the sport in eighth grade, including his two state qualifiers from this year, junior Caleb Repko and senior Saquan Branch.

He cited some of the techniques he used to get such good results. He changed things up a bit this year to help keep the kids motivated, getting them out of the wrestling room some to run. He focused less on live wrestling and more on repeatedly drilling moves, noting his team was less experienced. He also said that he’s not afraid to ask the advice of other team’s coaches.

“I don’t think my way is perfect or anything,” he said. “I’m real big on asking questions. I’m still learning, myself, how to coach. I’ve only been the head coach for six years, so I still have a long ways to go.”

Seed knew clearly what he wanted to do for a living when he was the age of the kids he now coaches.

“I decided when I was in high school I wanted to be a teacher and a coach,” he said.

He gained experience coaching children when he was in high school and came back during summers from college to coach.

As the Eastern Region heavyweight champion and fifth place finisher in the state, Caleb Repko is a great testament to Seed’s ability.

“He’s really well-deserving,” Repko said of Seed’s award. “He’s the reason all of us are where we’re at right now.”

Along with qualifying for regional and state competition, Saquan Branch was the district champion this year.

“Honestly, I thought our team wasn’t going to be good like it was last year when we had all seniors and stuff like that,” Branch said. “Turn around, this team was better than last year and all the other teams he had, because we put forth the effort, and we listened to what (Coach Seed) said and we’re dedicated to him. So, if we listen to the coach, it’s proven that he’ll get you success in a match and out of the match.”

As the praise mounted for Seed from his team, it became obvious that he has had an impact beyond the mat in helping his wrestlers, who come from disparate backgrounds.

“Coming in, I really didn’t have a father role model, but coming to Nansemond River, I met that father role model in Tripp,” Branch said.

Sophomore Hunter Hill shared a similar story.

“None of our awards and nobody would be right where they are at today without Coach Tripp,” he said. “He’s been like a dad to me. I started in fourth grade with Tripp being my coach and he’s elevated this program every year.”

Seed shared the simple message he tries to convey to all of his wrestlers: “I always tell them, ‘Be happy with what you do, but don’t be satisfied with it.’ There’s always room for improvement.”

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