Vance Light is the head wrestling coach at Mount Vernon High School who was inducted into the wrestling hall of fame in 2016. He has coached 63 state qualifiers, three state-qualifying dual teams, six WAMAC conference championships and five individual state championships. His wrestlers say Light’s success as a coach is due to his skills at building relationships. A successful high school wrestler himself, his experience as an athlete informs his coaching. Video created by Caitlin Babcock, Mattie Hansen, Lauren Hauser, Reagan Light, Kendra Streicher, and Caroline Voss.
Ryan Clark: He's pretty demanding. He asks you to give your all.
John Engelbrecht: [0:22] He spends a lot of time working with me and stuff, and he had a lot of time invested.
Justin Dix: [0:26] He's taught me a lot of about wrestling and he taught me a lot about life.
Coy Martin: [0:28] He makes me wanna go to practice, it's not like I'm going and hating my coach.
Tristan Wirfs: [0:33] He's not just a coach, he jokes around and stuff, and he's close with their families, and he's really close with them.
Justin Dix: [0:39] Still have a love of wrestling to this day because of him.
Ryan Clark: [0:42] He knows a lot about the sport almost everything there is to know, he was a really good wrestler.
Vance Light: [0:47] Four time state qualifier my freshman year I got second, my sophomore year I got fourth, and then my junior and senior year I won state titles.
Paul Ryan: [0:57] What makes Vance a successful coach is he used to wrestle, obviously, but he just, he's been there before, he's had to cut weight, he knows what everyone goes through. He knows sometimes you fail. But you gotta get back in the room and keep workin' hard, and that makes winning so much more fun.
Justin Dix [1:19] He's a successful coach because he really relates well to kids, he understands what they're going through, both on and off the mat, and he does a good job of communicating that with kids, and not being over their head, and he also makes it just a lot of fun to be in wrestling, and to be on the team and part of the team.
Vance Light: [1:41] I like to joke around a little bit before practice, and after practice, and I think the kids realize that. And I think they kinda enjoy it, rather than just be a hardbutt on 'em all the time. I think you can get just as much, many results out of just talkin' to 'em, and treat 'em as an individual as you can yellin' at 'em. Granted, every once and while they need to have their hinds chewed.
John Engelbrecht: [2:01] I think he's successful 'cause he's been doin' it a long time, first off. I mean, I dunno, twenty-some years, at least, and his experience as a competitor, too, but I think he's able to build relationships, not just as a coach and athlete, but he can joke around with the guys, kind of build a friendly relationship.
Speaker: [2:23] Being able to have a relationship with the coach definitely helps you become more successful.
Speaker: [2:27] He's not a teacher, a lot of coaches are teachers, he's not a teacher, so it's kind of a less formal relationship between the athlete and coach, so he can joke around, and talk about things, outside of wrestling or school, a lot easier. So I think how he can bond with his athletes makes him a successful coach.
Reagan Light: [2:47] I think one of the reasons my dad's a good coach, is because he cares for everyone like one of his sons.
Ryan Clark: [2:54] He's a really good coach and, obviously, it shows 'cause he's won a lot of duel meets, and he's got a lot of state place winners and other things.
Vance Light: [3:01] as a coach so far. We've qualified for the regional duels probably eight or so, eight times, somewhere in there. State duels we have qualified three. I don't know how many state qualifiers I have coached. Forty, fifty, state qualifiers. Five or six state champions. Probably twenty-some state place winners. Hopefully we have, keep on having success, and be successful like we have been over the course of our, since probably been coaching here, for twenty plus years.
Asset ID: 2018.06
Themes: Sports, wrestling, coaching
Date recorded: 2018
Length of recording: 3:45 m
Related traveling exhibition: Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America
Sponsor or affiliated organization: Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group (CDG), Mount Vernon, Iowa
More information: https://museumonmainstreet.org/blog-node/j-term-class-highlights-their-iowa-hometown-stories-yes