Derek Harrison Named Southeast Developmental Coach of the Year
BRISTOL, Tenn. – King College Men’s Wrestling assistant coach Derek Harrison was named the Southeast Developmental Coach of the Year by his peers in USA Wrestling this past weekend. The honor is awarded to one coach per region each year that runs a successful national development wrestling club.
Derek Harrison was named Southeast Developmental Coach of the Year this past weekend for his work with the Tennessee Wrestling Federation. He is currently working with the Federation to help build it into a program that is gaining recognition in the southeast and on a national level. He is now in the running among five coaches nationwide for the National Development Coach of the Year Award.
“Just being considered for Developmental Coach of the Year is a huge honor,” said Harrison. “Coaching is something you do and don’t expect any recognition. You just keep working hard and try to reach as many different athletes as you can. In this case, others noticed and it’s a refreshing feeling.”
Harrison was one of nine coaches in the region nominated for the award. After a vote put to his peers he was named the Southeast Developmental Coach of the Year for his success and dedication. Currently, there are five regions designated by USA Wrestling with the Southeast Region comprising of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Harrison works primarily with the best of the area’s 11th and 12th graders helping them compete for a spot on the USA Junior National team as well as priming them for a career beyond high school. He also works with children as young as eight years old at the bantam level and all those in between. In 2010, Harrison led Team Tennessee to a top-20 finish at the Junior Nationals for the first time in the state’s wrestling history. He will lead his team to Junior Nationals in Oklahoma City, Okla. for the third straight year on June 26.
“Everybody I talk to that has been part of these clubs or Team Tennessee goes on and on about what a good man he is. Of course, I completely agree,” said King Men’s Wrestling head coach, Nate Moorman. “There is just no better compliment for a college coach than to see your graduates have such a positive impact on others.”
A veteran in the wrestling world despite being only 25 years old, Harrison has been on the fast track to becoming one of the up-and-coming coaches in the industry. For the last two years, the Tennessee Wrestling Federation has named him Coach of the Year in consecutive years (2010, 2011) and awaits the selection for the 2012 season.
In addition to serving as the Men’s Wrestling assistant coach and the head strength and conditioning coach at King College, Harrison also volunteers with a local club wrestling team. For the last three years he has served as the head coach of Team Tornado, a wrestling club for boys ages seven and up that focuses on teaching Freestyle, Greco, and Folkstyle wrestling to area youths.
“We are really trying to grow wrestling here in the area,” said Harrison. “It [wrestling] is really new in this area and it is growing. We are trying to build it into something and teach kids about the sport.”
Team Tornado won the Freestyle tournament portion of its recent home dual event that featured Compound (Ga.), East Tennessee Wrestling Academy, and Lion’s Pride (Nashville, Tenn.). Team Tornado won placed well and finished second in the Greco tournament that was also a part of the event.
“I don’t care where these kids go to college,” said Harrison. “I just want them to be good enough so they can succeed wherever they choose to go.”
As if Harrison did not have enough on his plate with his duties at King and coaching at the amateur level, he has also taken on duties with USA Wrestling to serve on the Tennessee Board of Directors and was recently voted to become the Treasurer for the Tennessee Wrestling Federation.
“I am insanely busy. The hardest thing of it all is balancing the family life,” said Harrison. “I go all year long from college to juniors to club wrestling.”
At the club level, Tennessee sports close to 50 clubs as it grows in size compared to the rest of the country. The entire organization of club wrestling hosts hundreds of teams in the region and thousands in the nation.
Harrison is dual graduate of King obtaining both his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the College. He was a four-year starter for the Tornado varsity wrestling team and was a team captain during his career. Before graduating, Harrison qualified to wrestle at NAIA Nationals and competed overseas against the Turkish and Bulgarian national teams. He graduated in 2009 with a degree in marketing and minored in coaching. He returned to King for graduate school where he received a master’s in business administration in 2010 while serving as an assistant for the Tornado men’s wrestling team. He is now entering his fourth season as an assistant coach with King and has accumulated 12 years of experience within USA Wrestling.
Last year, Harrison helped the men’s wrestling team to a national ranking as high as 11th in the country and sent four the NCAA Division II National Championships where two were crowned All-Americans. He also served as the strength and conditioning coach for the Lady Tornado wrestling team that finished second overall at the WCWA National Championships and sent five to the 2012 Team USA Olympic Qualifier.