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Wrestling coach aims to take team to the top

February 03, 2010

Editor's note: This article first appeared in Spark Magazine and has been republished with permission.

Shawn Charles, an ASU two-time Pac 10 individual champion in 1992 and 93 and an all American for all four years of college, is back in his home state of Arizona ready to coach his team to the top.

Charles believes the challenge of being a coach this season is getting the community, the boosters and alumni back on board, back into the arena and back in the wrestling groove. And not just on the mat but also by raising money to ensure the program lives on.

“When I hear we use to get a real big crowd to come to our wrestling matches, that’s when we were really successful as a team winning the national championship and having numerous all Americans every year.”

The team was cut in May 2008 due to budget pressures. But this year it has found new life through community support of the program. When Coach Charles was offered the opportunity to come back to his alma mater he said he was proud to give the Sun Devils a second chance.

“All of the kids have stayed here who were part of the team before, they are a young team so I am looking forward to working with them and putting us into a situation where we can win the Pac 10 championship and go on to nationals and do great things. I am excited about it, I think that we have a very good, talented group of kids and I am looking forward to have an opportunity to coach them.”

Charles has been successful everywhere he has coached and plans on bringing the team his brand of the work ethic, including daily routines, planning before matches and what they do for tournaments and competitions.

“Arizona State is a great place and I think...that a lot of the kids here love ASU and came here for a specific reason and now with my new coaching staff and myself I think they see that we are going to do everything we can to push this program into the direction it should be going - back to the top! The goal is do it fast.”

When Charles was a two time national champ at ASU he had a life changing experience under the guidance of his coach Melvin Douglas. “All you have to do out there is go hard, wrestle hard.”

Three periods went on and on the minute break, Charles was tired and was on the verge of giving up.

Douglas told him, ”Do it for the team, you got to do it for yourself.” This elicited no response from Charles. Then Douglas bellowed, “DO IT FOR YOUR MOM!”

He pushed the right button, and Charles wound up a four time all American. After that he realized coaches know a lot about you and what you are capable of. Athletes need to be able to trust their coaches wholeheartedly and without reservation.

The goal for Charles is to succeed quickly. With every new experience he has had throughout the years, and coaching at numerous universities, he believes he landed at the right university at the right time.

Come out and support the ASU wrestling team this season, or as Coach Charles calls them “His soldiers.”