As he enters his 26th year as the varsity wrestling coach at Patterson High, the coaching philosophy of Lee Scoles carries a message that stands the test of time.
“One of the things I’ll emphasize this season is effort,” Scoles said. “If you get knocked down, pick yourself up. You ultimately will be successful. If we effort properly, I’m a happy man at the end of the day.”
In a season during which more than 70 athletes are expected to wrestle for the team, including several true rookies and six girls, Scoles believes success stems from mat experience.
“We’ve got a lot of first-year wrestlers out here that have never wrestled before,” he said. “It’s just going to be a collective effort. If you keep getting them into competition and tournaments, it gives them a chance to compete and learn that it’s not the end of the world if you lose.”
Yet for Scoles, wins and losses pale in comparison with the virtues of persevering in a sport that demands endurance.
“If you lose and you gave a good effort, then you’ll feel good about yourself,” Scoles said. “That’s how you continue to build your program.”
To handle his abundance of wrestlers, Scoles has enlisted the help of assistant coaches Vince Garcia, brother Gary Scoles, former state qualifier Juan Gonzalez and Carlos Gonzalez, just to name a few.
“It’ll be difficult with 70 kids out on the team to get the individual (attention),” Scoles said. “I’ve got a bunch of volunteer coaches. My philosophy this year is that you utilize everyone on the team to make yourself better.”
Among the wrestlers who invested in off-season improvement is senior returner and section qualifier Adrian Ramirez. A lineman on the varsity football team, Ramirez attended an Iowa State University camp during the summer at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Between his sophomore and junior season, he joined teammate Elias Pasillas at an elite Midwest wrestling camp.
“It just means I got to go farther this year,” Ramirez said. “It’s getting better at everything I do, listening to all my coaches, and being able to draw from what they want to tell me. I need to perfect what I need to work on.”
Similarly, Pasillas’ season didn’t end when he posted a 1-2 record at the subsection meet last school year, effectively ending his postseason aspirations.
Instead, the 112-pounder participated in wrestling tournaments at Beyer and Ripon high schools to maintain his competitive edge. He took second at Beyer and first at Ripon in his weight class.
“When I ended up losing at subsections, I told myself that I’d do whatever I could to make it the farthest for every tournament this year,” Pasillas said. “I try to take it one match at a time and stay focused.”
Pasillas credited an inspirational speech by Scoles for his decision to wrestle as a freshman and each year thereafter.
“I like having coach Scoles as a coach,” Pasillas said. “He’s a really good coach. He knows how kids wrestle and how to fix problems. He’s a really big inspiration. His speeches made me out for the season again and again.”
Ramirez and Anthony Sanchez won first-place medals at the Western Athletic Conference meet Feb. 10. Pasillas and teammate Nelson Rangel (119 pounds) took second place, and nine other wrestlers advanced to the subsection meet.
Ramirez and Josh Cantu, a heavyweight who graduated earlier this year, were the only section qualifiers.
Scoles said he will look for the junior varsity to capture its third-straight league championship, along with welcoming several underclassmen from Creekside Middle School’s program, where.
Thomas Dodd, Ricky Howard and Caleb Martinez competed.
Other key wrestlers could include Caleb Martinez, George Miranda and Peyton Sonnefeld, Scoles said.
Patterson opens league Jan. 4 at Orestimba.