Coach takes GISD team to district championship
Wrestling is a sport in which an athlete can be a giant regardless of how big he or she is. Drive, determination, and hard work transcend physical stature in this combat sport where heartfelt passion reigns supreme. Just ask Paul Muck, who decided early that wrestling was the sport for him. “Wrestling is really the only sport in which size does not really matter. You have to compete only with other kids your size, and so being small is not a disadvantage.” Following a successful wrestling career in high school, Paul went on to wrestle at the University of Texas, where he placed 5th in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association division.
Success followed Paul into coaching and eventually landed him at Georgetown High School, where he began the wrestling program four years ago. He introduced techniques such as takedowns, throws, and pinning combinations. He matched up opponents, watched as they squared off, and then got out of their way as they used those techniques to gain superior position on the wrestling mat.
Coach Muck advises his wrestlers to “Do unto them as they would do unto you, but do it faster, quicker, and better than they do.” This mentality has paid off. In 2012 Coach Muck was named Region 4 Wrestling Coach of the Year—“a great honor,” he says, “because it’s voted on by the other wrestling coaches in the region.” Coach Muck values the respect of his peers, but he points to his team as the reason for the recognition. “If the wrestlers were not having success, I would not have received the award.” Coach Muck has nicknamed the pack of young wrestlers who make up the GHS wrestling team with monikers that reflect their wrestling styles—names like Polar Bear, Bull, and Praying Mantis. He prefers to keep the spotlight shining brightly on these athletes.
A combination of mental and physical toughness, strength, agility, and technique fosters success in wrestling, and Coach Muck feeds the team a healthy portion of training. They pump iron, run, and get their mat time in. They face mental challenges that call on them to work through exhaustion. Physical and mental calisthenics transform the body and mind, but it’s the “digging a little deeper” when they didn’t think there was a “deeper” that has made them champions. Is Coach Muck demanding and frustrating? Probably. Determined and competitive? Very! Coach Muck willingly admits to challenging his wrestlers until he gets the athleticism he wants.
“Winning a district championship was a goal that the team set coming into the year, and they didn’t let any obstacle get in the way of them accomplishing this goal,” says Coach Muck about the team’s first-place district win in 2012. With a thirst for more, the team went on to place third in regional and then competed at the state level, where five wrestlers represented the school district.
It’s not all hard work with Coach Muck, however. Outside of practice, he indulges in a bit of humor. “We work hard when it is time to work hard,” he says, “and we have fun when it is time to relax.” He just accepts it when his team plays tricks on him, like the time during an out-of-town tournament, when they told the wait staff that it was 32-year-old Coach Muck’s 21st birthday, breaking into a rambunctious round of Happy Birthday” to underscore the joke.
These young men play hard. They work even harder. They show up, dominate, and go home. They are giants because they think they are giants. Coach Muck and his team have the trophies to prove it.
By Karen Lange
Photos by Rudy Ximenez