By: John Raffel
Chippewa Hills coach passes 500 wins
Nate Ethridge has passed the 500-win mark as a wrestling coach this season in his 18th year with the Warriors.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone knowing Ethridge’s devotion to the sport if he would keep it going for another 18 years and another 500 wins for 1,000.
“It’s exciting,” Ethridge said. “It’s a program milestone, not a personal milestone.”
Ethridge hit the 500 mark when his team defeated Big Rapids 81-0 and Newaygo 72-16
“That’s really cool,” Chippewa Hills senior heavyweight Andrew Vinton said. “We’ve been around him forever and it’s really good to see that. I never thought I would see something like that.”
Ethridge has spent all of his 18 years of high school coaching at Chippewa Hills
“My philosophy is that as long as I feel like I’m doing the right thing and the kids respond to me and as long as I can still get results from them and they buy into it and are accountable to what we want them to do, I’m still effective,” Ethridge said. “When I feel I’m not effective anymore, I need to be done.”
Ethridge was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the Year for Michigan for 2016-17.
The Warriors were a team state semifinalist last season.
Ethridge had 11 state qualifiers, five state place winners and one state champion.
Ethridge has been wrestling coach 17 seasons.
“I’m excited for our program,” Ethridge said. “I don’t see these as a reflection on me but our staff, kids and community. These types of things are program awards about the accomplishments as a whole.
“I’m honored to even be considered for this award, much less win it.” Chippewa Hills was 28-2 last season and Ethridge entered this season with a career record of 492-93.
“Buy in and accountability are the reason we are successful,” Ethridge said. “It goes from our kids to our parents and coaches. They believe in the process and are accountable to it.
“The most enjoyable thing has been my relationships with the kids and watching them grow throughout high school and into adulthood and watching what we teach impact their lives in a positive way.”
Ethridge entered this season anticipating more success for 2017-18.
“We bring in an excellent class of eighth-graders who have been successful at the lower levels for years,” Ethridge said. “We also have some guys who wrestled on our Red team (other varsity team) who had exceptional records and that team’s overall record was 15-5 and they won three varsity tournaments.”