(Above) Doug Munn (left) served as an assistant coach last season under Coach Mike Lester. Munn has been an assistant at CLHS for nine years. -Reporter file photo
by Marianne Gasaway
Doug Munn knows it takes a special mindset to be a wrestler. Now, he’s learning the same holds true to be a wrestling coach.
After serving as an assistant in the Clear Lake High School wrestling program for nine years, Munn takes over as the Lions’ head coach this week. It is his first head coaching assignment in his 30-years in the sport.
“There is some pressure associated with taking the job, but that’s the best part,” said Munn. “I am following a Hall of Fame coach (Gary Weber) and Mike Lester, who in two years had the highest finish for a Clear Lake team at the Battle of Waterloo and the State Tournament. So, pressure? Yeah, but it’s a dream job for me.”
Munn was a four-sport athlete for Riceville High School in northeast Iowa. Although he loved wrestling, he pursued baseball at the University of Northern Iowa after graduation.
Clear Lake was often where Munn spent his summers, when not playing high school baseball. His grandparents had a cabin here and family was always close. Ten years ago Munn, who is vice president of commercial construction for ASI Commercial Construction, chose Clear Lake as the place he wanted to raise his family.
At Riceville, Munn was coached by Hall of Famer David Ripley and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Jim Miller was an assistant to the high school team. Through the years he has developed ties with Iowa State University’s program and others, having been an assistant coach in Nevada and East Marshall.
“You don’t reinvent the wheel. I have learned a lot from some great coaches and I hope to continue the excellence that Clear Lake has enjoyed,” said Munn.
The coach said he expects 25 to 30 wrestlers in the high school program this year, working with not only him, but with two new assistant coaches and, as always, a wealth of volunteers.
Assistant Evan Johnson is a teacher in the Clear Lake school system and Brad Brosdahl, who Munn has known since high school, was a state champion wrestler for North Central Manly. Munn noted that he likes for all coaches to be involved with all wrestlers so that the athletes can feel comfortable coming to any coach with a question or concern. It is also a good way to “share the wealth” of experience which each coach brings to the wrestling room.
“A good head coach knows enough to put good people around him,” Munn said with a smile.
Munn explained that he uses the “1 percent theory” in the wrestling room.
“The goal is to get 1 percent better every day we are in the room practicing. That’s about 60 practices a season. So in three months there’s 60 percent improvement and in three years, 240 percent. Asking for 1 percent improvement a day isn’t a huge number. It’s not asking for much, but it really adds up.”
Learning also comes through teaching and Munn plans to continue to keep high school wrestlers involved in the Mighty Lion wrestling program.
“The kids have crazy fun coaching and helping the younger kids. I think you learn more when you are teaching it. You are forced to think through it to be able to teach it,” said Munn.
Clear Lake’s Lion Performance Training (LPT) is also an important part of the program, according to the coach. Two times a week, at 6 a.m. Monday and Wednesdays, athletes are in the weight room. A small amount of weight training is also sometimes worked into practices.
“Our kids are tired when then leave practice. They know it’s work and they know the importance of it. Wrestling is a team sport, but it’s an individual sport, too. You have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” said the coach. “I wish I had the mentality for it (in high school) that I have now. It’s a mindset.”
Munn said he both impressed and pleased with the amount of support the Clear Lake community has for high school wrestling.
“Community and parental support is great here and we travel well,” explained Munn. “If we are on the road, Clear Lake always has the second most people in attendance, behind the host school. We also have a phenomenal schedule, wrestling five of the top 3A teams and the always-tough teams— Webster City, Humboldt, Clarion, in the conference. People are always keeping an eye on us— and they should.”