DANVILLE — Six years ago, Keith Kauffman built a high school wrestling program from the ground up.
Now, he’s doing it again.
Kauffman has been approved as the first wrestling coach at Danville High School.
“I’m thrilled to be part of this,” Kauffman said. “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
The coach spent six years at the helm of East Knox’s wrestling program, building it into a Mid-Buckeye Conference contender from literally nothing.
“That was a bit different,” Kauffman said. “We got started in the early fall, and had to have everything ready by the start of the season. This time around, we’re starting on May 1.”
Kauffman hasn’t spoken to any potential wrestlers as of yet. He believes a lot of them will actually be participants in other varsity sports such as football. And with the weightlifting program already in place at Danville, Kauffman believes he has an advantage from the start.
“Football teams make good wrestling teams, and vice versa,” Kauffman said. “It’s tough to find a coach that goes along with that. But (football coach) Ed Honabarger agrees. And since there’s such a small number of boys in the school, it has to be that way.”
In 2003, Kauffman retired as a teacher in the Fredericktown school district and accepted a paid position at East Knox to begin its wrestling program. This time, though, unlike his gig at East Knox, his time at Danville will be strictly on a volunteer basis. When the Danville school board agreed to adopt wrestling, it did so with the promise that it would cost taxpayers nothing. That means, all equipment is donated, and all coaches are volunteers.
“Coaching has to be a passion, and not a job,” said Kauffman. “That’s why I gladly do this.”
“I wish coach Kauffman the best,” said East Knox athletic director Derick Busenberg. “He developed some good relationships with the kids while he was here. He will be missed.”
East Knox has already posted the open coaching position both internally and externally.
As for Kauffman, this is literally an idea that took years to come to fruition.
“My wife and I moved to Danville in ’88,” said Kauffman, “and when I saw (Danville High School), I told her, ‘I want to start a wrestling program there.’
“It took 23 years, but we’re getting it done.”