Evan Moxie will not know until next season whether he has made his job easier or more difficult.
Moxie, Lugoff-Elgin's first-year wrestling coach, led the Demons to the Class 3A title with a 40-17 victory against Hilton Head in February. The health teacher, who was the junior varsity coach in 2008-09, said he felt the need to prove himself when he took the varsity job.
One month after the best outcome he could have hoped for, Moxie talked to The State about how his Demons proved him right.
What did you think was possible for the Demons coming into the season?
I thought we had the makings of a championship team. We had very talented kids coming back and the main task that we had was getting the kids to believe that they could be champions, and once we did that is when the success started to happen.
How did you make your wrestlers believe in themselves?
Really just pushing them to their limits and demanding from them that they be leaders, especially the older kids. Just keeping them interested and keeping them having a good time is really what did it.
At what point were you sure you were right about your team?
In early January we went to the Bearcat (Invitational) and finished fourth as a team, and that's probably one of the best tournaments in the state. And then the next weekend, we beat Hilton Head and at that time they were the No. 1-ranked team. And then we ended up facing them again in the state championship.
How did that first meeting with Hilton Head affect your team's preparation and season?
It convinced them that we could beat anybody. They took on a swagger, I guess, knowing that we could beat a team like that gave them a lot of confidence and that's really what carried us.
Besides that confidence, what about your team elevated you guys this season?
They are very intense, very competitive kids. Once a couple of the kids started getting really confident within themselves, that kind of just spread (to others). They were a hard-working group, no complaining, just really willing to do whatever it took.
What was your team's biggest obstacle this season?
I think, the very first match we had, (in) which we wrestled Rock Hill, which ended up being one of the best 4A teams, and 1A champion Chesterfield. We got pretty beat up by Rock Hill, but they never really let it get to them, they just used that as a spring board.
At any point did you feel your team might fall short?
I never felt that, but I was nervous all the time. We did suffer another loss early in the season to Indian Land. It could have done really bad things but that's the match where everybody said, we're better than this and it ended up really helping.
Aside from that championship trophy, what do you take from this season into the next?
The way we did things this year with incorporating a lot of weight training, the health things and workouts. Those are things we'll definitely take into 4A next year. We see the 4A kids all year in tournaments, so we don't look at the move as anything different or that we need to prepare any differently.
What's it like to be a state champion?
I couldn't dream of anything better. Especially being a young coach and taking it all the way my first year. It was pressure filled for about the last 11 months. It's a little bit of relief, takes some of the pressure off. I'm sure the pressure will be back in a week or so.