When you think of Jeff Schumacher, you think of Bismarck High Wrestling, one of the best coaches out there leading one of the best programs in North Dakota. Last week, coaches around the nation recognized the work Jeff had put in throughout his 25 years with the Demons.
“And then he said ‘From the Peace Garden State’ and I go ‘well, I’m trying to think there for a little while, and then I was ‘Oh, I guess that’s me,” says Schumacher.
That was Jeff Schumacher’s initial reaction when it was announced that he was the NHSACA National Coach of the year in the sport of wrestling, a long time coming for a coach that has put in the work with his wrestlers over the years.
“We’ve had some really good athletes here at Bismarck High School as far as our wrestling programs,” says Schumacher. “And so it’s made it easy or easier because we’ve had some really good horses to ride.”
The stats are jaw-dropping, 18 team titles, 18 dual titles, and too many to count as far as individual champs. Schumacher a state title winner himself back in 1978 has made it a point to focus on every athlete that comes to The Pit.
“I think we have to talk to them,” says Schumacher. “All athletes have to be talked to. All athletes have to create somewhat of a family so that they feel like their best friends are on the wrestling team. And so when we go to JV events or varsity events, we make sure that everybody is touched and making sure everybody has been talked to.”
But the coaching doesn’t start with the Demons. Schumacher invests in his athletes at an early age, working with kids at the MatPac, a club that continues to grow the sport as a whole. Schumacher’s dedication earns him that national recognition, but he won’t tell you that.
“We have a good group of coaches,” says Schumacher. “You can’t give me all this credit. I’m the lucky guy who’s been here longer than any of the other coaches. I got the credit because of that. We have good kids. We have a good club to work with, that has good coaches at the club.”
Of the biggest lessons learned as a coach, Schumacher says it’s not all about what he tells the athletes, but what his athletes tell him.
“We want to make sure we’re doing the right things,” says Schumacher. “It’s like teaching. It’s not like you laying everything out. Saying what did we miss, and asking the students, what can we do better. What can we do better and they respond to you, and that would be the big thing.”