Things are moving quickly for Brad Wollum.
The science teacher at Wadena-Deer Creek High School was named the new head wrestling coach for the Wolverines on Monday, Dec. 21, and is eager to build upon the traditions of W-DC.
“I came into the position kind of in a flurry,” Wollum said. “Just like any other program, I really want to build on the tradition. There are a lot of good families in the Wadena area and a lot of alumni with kids coming up and I think bringing back that tradition of Wadena wrestling to what it was.”
Wollum said he’s eager to work with the student-athletes. He said working in the school district has helped him already build relationships with the students. He said that will be a key to building numbers in the program even with the limitations created with distance learning.
“Brad is an excellent teacher and coach,” said WDC Activities Director Norm Gallant. “We worked together when I was head coach and I know he has the right demeanor, work ethic and personal character to be a successful head coach. I look forward to what he can do with our student-athletes in the wrestling program.
“He is well liked and builds great relationships with students. He has a great network of people from which to seek advice in coaching and will be a great addition to our school’s head coaching staff.”
Wollum is in his fifth year as a science teacher at W-DC and was a volunteer wrestling coach. He is also an assistant in the WDC track and field program.
Wollum was a recipient of last year's "Educator of Excellence Award" by Sourcewell and is known for implementing aviation and drone classes for WDC students.
Wollum is no stranger to success in prep wrestling. The 2009 graduate was a member of two state finalist teams at Canby, including a state title. Individually, Wollum advanced to the state tournament three times, finishing as a state runner-up as a junior and a third-place finisher as a senior.
“Being from Canby goes back to tradition,” Wollum said. “Wrestling at Canby is as big as Texas football. It’s something everybody did. I didn’t join wrestling until I was a freshman, but even being a basketball player in elementary and junior high there was always that push to try wrestling. I made the switch in ninth grade and never looked back.
“The connections you make not only in Canby, but statewide are unbelievable. The last couple of days I’ve reached out to coaches across the state and the feedback has been very helpful. There are people I can rely on to help in college friends, high school friends and even ex opponents I was able to know over the years. That’s the biggest take away from being from Canby. There is such a rich tradition and I’d like to establish that here, too.”
Wollum has been involved in coaching at Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City and Canby schools prior to W-DC.
“I just want to help the students navigate through the uncertainty of the season,” Wollum said. “The last year has been chaotic in every aspect of life. So just using that as a learning lesson for life because there are a lot of bad things that have happened, but there are things we can use to help kids become more resilient in their everyday lives for the future.”
Wollum’s new assistant coach will be Anthony Kern, who was hired last year as an elementary physical education teacher at W-DC. He volunteered with the wrestling program last season.
Both Wollum and Kern share a similar coaching philosophy.
“My philosophy is wrestling is not an easy sport nor is life,” Wollum said. “My assistant coach shares the idea of not only using this sport to prepare the athletes not only physically, but mentally for the challenges that await in high school and beyond. There are a lot of learning experiences.”
Kern is a Verndale High School graduate where he was a three-time state entrant for the Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale Raiders, including a sixth-place finish as a junior. He also participated in the state tournament with the team in 2014. He continued his wrestling career at Minnesota State University-Moorhead.
"I remember him as a high school wrestler,” Gallant said. “He was a great competitor and a class person. He also has a great work ethic and is an excellent teacher. He will relate well to our students and is an exceptional role model.”
The duo replaces Kyle Hagen, who served as co-head coach from 2015-2018 and head coach last season, and Jeremy Hagen, who was an assistant from 2015-2020.
The wrestling season will begin Jan. 4 and Wollum will focus on recruiting and fundamentals.
“You just don’t know what the season is going to bring,” he said. “The season could end Jan. 30. It’s a day-by-day piece. We’re going to wrestle like it could be our last day.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.