Posted 3/11/09 (Wed)
By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer
The Watford City High School wrestling program has been fortunate to be led by a coach with 87 combined coaching seasons behind his belt, 31 of those in wrestling.
Dave Dougherty has been teaching and coaching at W.C.H.S. for 31 years, but this year will be his last.
“I plan to continue working for another 10 years,” says Dougherty. “But it will be in a different arena than teaching.”
Dougherty completed his last year as W.C.H.S. head wrestling coach with great honor. In addition to his many victories and awards, he was inducted into the North Dakota High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame at the end of the 2008-09 wrestling season.
The North Dakota High School Coaches Association is the professional association for coaches of every sport in our state.
“For me the most memorable award is the North Dakota High School Coaches Hall of Fame,” says Dougherty. “That is a really prestigious award and it isn’t a popularity contest like some awards. It embodies your entire career both in competition and service to the sport.”
Dougherty began his wrestling career in 1967 when he was in junior high and continued wrestling into college where he participated for three years.
“I don’t know how the coaching came about,” comments Dougherty. “I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and the coaching just kind of came with it.”
Coming from a family of teachers and always enjoying the environment of school, Dougherty says teaching was a given.
“The most enjoyable part of my career has been working with the kids,” adds Dougherty. “I have formed some great relationships with athletes, coaches and officials through coaching. I think I will miss the time spent with people the most when I retire.”
If you spend much time watching wrestling, it is easy to see that Dougherty has a different coaching style than many of the other coaches in the state. While most coaches are running around the mat screaming at their wrestler, Dougherty is usually seen calmly sitting beside the mat. It’s not that he isn’t into the match as much as the other coach, it’s just his style of coaching.
“Being reserved goes along with my coaching philosophy,” says Dougherty. “I like to get the kids to motivate themselves. If they don’t want to be out there then it doesn’t matter what I do on the sidelines.”
Dougherty believes that he is of more use to the athletes if he can partner with them using his experience to teach them what they need to know.
“I’ve seen too many coaches where the kids are performing out of fear or intimidation,” adds Dougherty. “I don’t want that. There has to be education within athletics or the kids don’t get anything out of it. As a coach, I want my athletes to learn to set goals and motivate themselves while building character for life.”
Dougherty’s coaching philosophy, while not widely used, has led to a very successful coaching career for him including 385 wrestling victories, 47 tournament victories, four Conference Team Championships (1988, 1991, 1993, 1994), seven Regional Team Championships (1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1997, 2009), 11 Regional Team Runners-up (1992, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008), three State Team Runners-up (1990, 1997, 1998), two State Team Third Places (1989, 1991), two State Team Fourth Places (2005, 2008), 21 Individual State Champions (33 including his years as assistant in Watford City) and 97 Individual State Place winners (132 with his years as assistant in Watford City).
In addition to his teaching and wrestling career, Dougherty has also been busy taking part in state boards and committees, including President, State Class B Wrestling Coaches Association 1989-2003, NDHSAA Wrestling Advisory Committee Member 1990-2009, NDHSAA State Wrestling Seeding Committee 1991, 2000, 2007, 2008, NDHSCA Board of Directors 1999-2004, NDHSCA President 2001-2002, NHSACA National Wrestling Chairman 2005-2008 and NHSACA Executive Committee Member (Third Vice President) 2008-2012.
Of course, in addition to the North Dakota High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame award, Dougherty received numerous other coaching awards including NDHSCA Region Wrestling Coach of the Year 1990, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2009, NDHSCA Region Track Coach of the Year 1989, 1991, 1992, 1994, 2008, NDHSCA State Wrestling Coach of the Year 1997, NHSACA Region VI Coach of the Year 2001, 2005 and NHSACA National Wrestling Coach of the Year 2005.
“There have been lots of memorable years and matches,” says Dougherty. “But the most memorable for me was during my second year as head coach when we took second place by 1½ points and we weren’t expected to be in the top 10. We lost a lot of team members and our wrestlers really stepped up and produced.”
Dougherty believes that if you give the effort you will receive the respect you deserve from yourself and others. This is something he has always tried to pass on to his athletes.
“I see myself as a good role model through my personal and professional behavior,” comments Dougherty. “To me the long-term success of a school’s athletic program is not about talent or wins, it’s about effort. I have always tried to pass that along to the students.”
Although Dougherty has had a very successful career as a coach and teacher he has decided that it is time to retire from both and move on to something else.
“My wife, Danell, and I have decided to move to a bigger city, probably around the Fargo area, where our grandkids are,” says Dougherty. “I have a few ideas of what I want to do, but I’m in no hurry to decide just yet. I have time to weigh my options and make the decision that is right for us.”
Dougherty will finish out the 2008-09 school year teaching Social Studies and coaching track.
“Watford City has been, and is, a great community and I am sure that we will miss it and its residents,” states Dougherty.