PARKERSBURG - Going from a dedicated wrestling mom to the head coach of four-time defending Class AAA state champion Parkersburg South hasn't been too difficult a transition for first-year Patriot mat boss Donna Dixon.
Any negatives for Dixon thus far into her coaching career have been outweighed by the positives, although she'll be the first to admit being a teacher and a head coach have their fair share of similarities.
"I think there's always frustration," Dixon said of whether it be on the mat or in the classroom. "There are days when the boys don't work as hard as maybe they should or could and that's frustrating. You are going to have that no matter what you do. I see that in the classroom as well.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Parkersburg South wrestling coach Donna Dixon, middle, Patriot grappler Codi Dornick (left) and assistant coach Gary Porter (right) watch a match inside the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.
"They're working hard on something and the next day you take a couple steps back.
You're going to get that and have to expect that, move on and hope the bad days aren't very many and you have more good days. I think that's what we have."
One of the lighter moments of Dixon's first season was during a scrimmage at the start of the year when South went on the road. After arriving in the gymnasium, Dixon went on the floor and took a seat while the team went to change and get ready.
"When we went to New Philadelphia I just sat down because I couldn't go into the locker room,'' she said. "The coach of New Philadelphia that was running the scrimmage came over to me and said 'ma'am the spectators are sitting up in the bleachers' and I told him I'm the head coach."
Dixon also noted she's gotten a few "looks when I walk into the hospitality rooms" although overall "people have been really nice and the boys have accepted me and known me for years. I've had a lot of them in class.
"My love for South wrestling has definitely grown this year just because I was on the outside looking in and now I'm on the inside looking out and it's a great experience. I never regretted my decision to apply for the job and this season has not changed my mind."
What the Patriots are going after this season is something no other Class AAA program ever has attained and that's winning five consecutive state championships. Dixon isn't the type of person who is looking for any sort of credit, no matter what happens come February. She also will be the first to admit she's not afraid to ask for help whenever it's needed.
"I have to say the job is pretty much what I expected," Dixon noted. "There are some things that are better than I thought they would be and some things worse. I still talk to Paul (Jackson) and he gives advice to me and advice to Gary (Porter).
"It's been good for the boys that there is continuity and they haven't had to get used to anything new. It's been hard with all the injuries and sickness, but hopefully we are finally getting that all together."
Even though she was a mother and a member of the Patriot family since her son Matt Dixon is a 182-pound wrestler, things are indeed different being the head coach of Parkersburg South.
"I think the tradition of the team, you understand it to a certain extent, but when you are the one on the inside and see how much tradition the program has and how the boys take pride in it, it's pretty overwhelming at times," she admitted.
"It's been a nice change. I get to be with the boys more and I get to know them a little more. It's fun to get to know them more as people than just kids on the wrestling mat. That's fun for me."
What would be even more fun is winning that fifth straight title.
"The boys still have number five as their goal," added the coach. "That's what they want. They talk about it in the room and try to use it to motivate each other and I still think it's attainable.
"I know it's not going to be easy and the other four have not been easy. They shouldn't count us out because we are Parkersburg South and we are going to come to wrestle."