Frank Baxter, head wrestling coach at Fairmont, knows that working hard enough at something will ultimately end in success. In January, Baxter, 41 , was inducted into the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
Baxter has been Fairmont’s head wrestling coach for the past 18 seasons and has coached wrestling for a total of 24 years. After many seasons of perfecting his coaching style, Baxter’s hard work and success has been recognized. His hall of fame achievement has brought attention to the strength of Fairmont’s Athletic Department and the Firebird wrestling program.
When Baxter was in the fourth grade, his journey towards a successful career in wrestling began with the influence of Billy Futchi, a friend from down the street. “My neighborhood family introduced me to wrestling,” he said. “I fell in love with it right away.”
From then on, Baxter continued wrestling throughout his adolescent years eventually leading him to coaching. During high school, Baxter was positively influenced by his coaches. “My coaches were great role models on and off the mat,” Baxter said. “It really wasn’t what they taught me about wrestling, it was what they taught about life and how to be a man.”
Baxter used the knowledge and skills that he learned from his coaches to become a great coach and role model to all student-athletes. After high school, Baxter attended Cleveland State University where he began his coaching career. “I always knew I wanted to become a coach so it was just a good fit,” he said.
From then on, his coaching career took off and his first stop was accepting an assistant position at Mentor High School. Later on, Fairmont offered him their head coaching job, which is where he has stayed for the last 18 years.
Since being hired at Fairmont, Baxter has done a fantastic job with the wrestling program, including taking his teams and individual wrestlers to multiple state championships. Baxter has clearly shown he has the coaching skills to not only be a winning coach but more so, a mentor that can motivate and push the athletes to their limits. “A coach is someone who tries to motivate you and push you to be the best you can be,” Baxter said. “Ultimately, that’s all a coach is.”
Baxter feels as if this sport can be a path for young athletes to learn valuable lessons wrestling has to offer. “Discipline, work ethic, goal setting and most importantly overcoming adversity are very valuable lessons,” he said. “You have adversity everyday in practice and every time you lose a match you have to come back and wrestle again.”
Baxter wants his athletes to receive the true message that wrestling really is meant to send them. “All sports teach very valuable lessons that you can’t learn in the classroom but I think wrestling, when it’s just you out there all by yourself with nowhere to hide, teaches you accountability,” he said. “The athlete has either done the work or not and there is no hiding it.”
Athletes are put into the spotlight every time they step onto to the mat by singling themselves out. “If you win, you won. If you lose, you lost. You just get out what you put in it. There’s no reliance on anyone else but yourself,” Baxter said.
Pushing an athlete to their limits to build up their confidence on the mat is the path to success in wrestling.
Baxter knows what it feels like to be singled out on the mat with hundreds of people watching. He strives to challenge his athletes on the highest level possible while also helping his young men realize their full potential.
His coaching style is the reason Baxter is receiving this honorary award. Even though Baxter feels like he is just doing his job, his knowledge and passion for the athletes and the sport are very deserving of recognition.
However, Baxter is more worried about his current season and team. “It is a great honor and I’m sure I will appreciate it more later but it’s kind of hard to appreciate it completely when you’re in the middle of a season and you’ve had your struggles,” he said.
Baxter acknowledges that he has a team to coach and understands that he can’t worry about receiving an achievement because the hall of fame honor does not make his team win matches.
Baxter gave credit to the things that truly aid in building a program and winning matches. “You need committed kids, parents, and administration, and amazing coaches,” Baxter said. “When you have those things, good things occur and when they occur consistently over time then you get stuff like this.”
Baxter’s hall of fame award was recognized on Saturday, March 26th at the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Hall of Fame and Coach of the Year Banquet.
The hall of fame is a great honor but the passion and commitment Baxter carries for his team is much more important than a prestigious award. “Maybe that has everything to do with the hall of fame honor but that’s not how I look at it,” he said. “I just look at it as coaching.”