BRISTOL - While only one name is attached to the title â€śCoach of the Year,â€ť itâ€™s far from an individual award for Bristol Eastern head wrestling coach Bryant Lishness.
The coach received the recognition of Class L Coach of the Year Tuesday after the Lancers finished atop the division in back-to-back seasons. The award is voted on by all coaches in the state.
â€śTo me itâ€™s really about the program being recognized,â€ť Lishness said. â€śAs the head coach I may be the one putting the quotes in the paper, but itâ€™s about all the coaches and the kids in the program. Thereâ€™s a lot of work that goes into this and itâ€™s definitely not just one person.â€ť
The Lancers were back-to-back Class L state champions for the first time in program history and also went unbeaten in dual meets throughout the regular season.
â€śWe have 14 seniors on this yearâ€™s team,â€ť Lishness said. â€śSeven were in the lineup regularly and the other seven stayed with program for four years. We pride ourselves on having the kids stay with the program for that amount of time. Itâ€™s tough to have people stay without seeing much [varsity] time. We try to make it feel like a family. When one person is out there and wins or loses, itâ€™s not an individual win or loss, itâ€™s our win. It goes to everybody.â€ť
The success all starts at the youth level, as Bristol has a strong wrestling community that reaches far beyond the high school level.
Lishness also serves as the director of the Gladiators youth program in the city.
â€śYouth programs are huge,â€ť Lishness said. â€śYou canâ€™t have this type of success without a youth program.â€ť
Many of the coaches involved in the development of wrestlers in the city are Bristol Eastern or Central alumni that give back.
Lishness wrestled for the Lancers program as a high school athlete. He wasnâ€™t a standout but fell in love with the sport. The ability to now coach it to current students at the school he attended growing up makes the recognition extra special.
â€śI never had any major accolades,â€ť Lishness said. â€śIâ€™m just a [wrestling] junkie and love the sport. I love working with kids. One of my biggest strengths is working with kids, motivating them and putting them in spots to succeed.â€ť
Itâ€™s a well-deserved recognition for Lishness and with all those involved in the program, Bristol Eastern is set up for longevity of success.
Dan Orencole can be reached atÂ 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org