Hisler steps down in Webster City
The life of a coach, from youth clubs to the professional organizations, is not for the faint of heart. It can be said that coaching sports is not for everyone.
Hours upon hours are spent preparing and analyzing situations, as well as developing and guiding individuals toward greater goals — spanning from building a winning culture to hanging banners on the side of the gymnasium or among the rafters.
There are periods of time where coaches are away from friends, family, significant others and children for extended periods of time during a season. Most of the work is done with no crowds in sight, before and after games and meets.
Coaching is an art and science, with a staggering amount of passion and dedication, as well as the ability to overcome adversity. Hope must spring eternal, regardless of the campaign’s outcome.
The formula for championships can be complicated. But when one can see their athletes reach greater thresholds of success, whether it is on or off of the field, court or mat, that time spent into bonding, training and tutoring the athletes is a grand reward all to itself.
Over the course of his 26 years of coaching, Webster City head wrestling coach Chad Hisler had experienced plenty of success — from seeing student-athletes going on to become better people, to placing medals around the necks of state champions.
Earlier this week, Hisler decided that it was time to step down from the program. The Webster City Community School District’s Board of Directors accepted the resignation at their latest meeting, held this past Monday at the Webster City Schools Administration Building.
“I loved every second of it,” Hisler said of his long career.
Hisler will continue to coach boys’ track and serve as an assistant coach for the Lynx football program.
The main reason why Hisler decided to let another coach take the reins is to be able to see his older son, CJ, play football at Wartburg College in Waverly. CJ announced last Friday that he had committed to the Knights.
“I’ve been thinking for the past couple of years about getting out of one of them,” Hisler said. “CJ is going to Wartburg. Not that he’s going to be varsity next year, but last year, they were playing football well into December. So obviously, if he’s playing, I want to go watch him.”
Hisler is a Lynx through and through, having wrestled for the purple and gold under the guidance of Dick Kennedy. Hisler was a standout grappler for Webster City, before graduating in 1992, and donning a Buena Vista University singlet.
Hisler was also previously an assistant at St. Edmond, along with coaching under Kennedy and Ted Larson. In the 2014-2015 season, Hisler took over the role as head coach.
Along with guiding individual state champions and medalists, Hisler brought in assistants who know the wrestling program inside, outside, forward and backward.
“Every coach on my staff wrestled at Webster City, save for (Jake) Haberman, who is a volunteer,” said Hisler. “Wrestling’s a grind. You give up every single Saturday for 12 hours, which I loved doing. But it’s time for someone else to do it.”
In his nine years as the Lynx’s head coach, Hisler mentored Gavin Dinsdale, Drake Doolittle and Camron Phetxoumphone toward individual titles. There were even more medalists — 15, to be exact — under his watchful eye, with the latest being Jaxon Cherry, Carson Doolittle, CJ Hisler and Linden Phetxoumphone.
“It’s a really cool experience, getting to hang a medal around somebody’s neck,” Hisler said.
What Hisler really enjoyed out of wrestling, though, was the team aspect of the sport. At St. Edmond, Hisler had contributed to the Gaels’ North Central Conference duals title and a Class 1A state duals berth in 2005.
This past season felt like a proverbial crescendo, as the Lynx reeled in a North Central Conference title, a regional crown and a Class 2A state duals berth, before capturing their first district title since 1991. On the grander stages, Webster City finished an exceptional campaign with a sixth-place finish in both the dual tournament and at the traditional Class 2A state wrestling tournament.
“I love the state duals, when you have the entire team go to state,” Hisler said. “I got to do that four times as an assistant and twice as a head coach.”
Another memorable moment was when the Lynx upset a highly regarded Clear Lake team at the historic Jefferson Gymnasium back in 2007. That victory lifted Webster City to a co-championship in duals.
“We had no business wrestling with them, but we beat them,” said Hisler. “I can remember that like it was yesterday.”
Another major upset came in the final year at Jeff Gym, back in 2012, when the Lynx defeated a powerful Clarion-Goldfield team.
“We weren’t supposed to beat them, either,” Hisler said. “We beat them, and it was a big one, as we won the conference duals title.”
Other great memories, according to Hisler, were Camron Phetxoumphone’s two state titles and guiding CJ Hisler to two appearances on the medal stand. However, there’s more than just championships and medalists.
If anything, it’s the athletes that rise to the occasion when the lights shine the brightest that stuck out to Hisler the most. For example, while Cooper Lawson got hurt and Drake Doolittle finished fifth several years back, wrestlers like James Cherry turned some heads at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
“It was a lot of fun,” Hisler said of those recollections. “Then, there are guys like Landon Griffin, who barely wrestled, came to us and won 25 matches this year. He struggled in school, before getting on the A Honor Roll this year. Stuff like that, I really remember.”
Even though Hisler is stepping away from the mat, he wants the next coach to continue the success that the Lynx have enjoyed. Next year, the trio of Jaxon Cherry, Carson Doolittle and Linden Phetxoumphone will return to the purple and gold.
“I want to leave the next coach with some success,” said Hisler. “While it’s tough to leave those guys, I want the next coach to have a good team, have some success and build from that. I’ll be definitely keeping an eye and watching. I’ll still be cheering them on.”