Saturday, January 16, 2021

Interview: Isaiah Thomas and the Coach T Podcast... Coaching, The Decision To Step Down, and the Pistons' Bad Boys



Michigan Wrestling Resource
recently caught up with Isaiah Thomas a former wrestler, coach, and official to discuss his new podcast, The Coach T Podcast, as well as his decision to step down from coaching, and lessons wrestling has imparted on him. Isaiah was an all-State and 2x letter winner at Muskegon Community College. He also was a Regional Coach of the Year at Bay City Western where he coached Two State Champs. His ability to step into different roles in our sport with the same passion and drive for success is a sign to me that the Coach T Podcast (and this interview) will be fire!

MWR: We have ten seconds, why should someone listen to your podcast? What’s in it for them? What kind of person would relate to your content?
Thomas: I believe with my experience I can give great insight to those interested in learning about Coaching from all three perspectives: Competitor, Coach and Official. The knowledge that they can gain from my experiences I believe would be very helpful. I’ve been very fortunate in my wrestling career to be involved with so many great wrestlers, coaches, and officials. I believe perspective is key to understand the sport and how to get the best out of your athletes, and understanding how officials make their calls. I believe any aspiring coach will relate very well to the content.

MWR: What is your goal or what do you hope to accomplish with this podcast?
Thomas: My goal is really to share my knowledge of the sport. When I step down from coaching I still felt like I had more to give. The podcast allows me to do that. There are many young coaches out there that are looking for guidance in their young careers. Hopefully I can be that guide for them.

MWR: You’ve been coaching wrestling for a while. Looking back over the years, what’s the most inspiring story or stories you’ve gotten to witness or be a part of?
Thomas:
There are way too many to list here. I would say one of the most inspiring stories that I was involved in was in 2014. Our state runner up at Bay City Western Chris Schoenherr broke his leg at football practice in late September. He worked his tail off to get back into the lineup late in the season. He along with his teammates helped us capture our first team regional title in 12 years. He went on to take fourth in the state. I will be highlighting this in one of my podcast talking about inspirational stories that I have either witnessed or have been a part of.

MWR:
You’ve recently stepped down from coaching. Do you mind explaining that thought processes you went through to make that decision? What went into it, who was involved, and how you feel about it.
Thomas: For me I enjoy coaching. I enjoy being with my athletes. The time that you spend with them you become their dad, uncle, mentor, Cetra. I felt that it was the right time to step away because my family was getting older. I need to spend more time with them and being the head coach was very time consuming. If you want to be a great coach you have to sacrifice many things. I don’t regret my decision. It was the right decision for me and my family at the time. I did seek the counsel of other coaches before making my decision. I think when you decide to step away from a roll like the head coach getting advice from other coaches is very helpful. It was definitely helpful for me.

MWR: One of the great things about our sport is how it brings people together. You can’t go through wrestling without meeting a ton of people and forming friendships. Besides me, who are the coolest people you’ve met and where did you meet them?
Thomas: I believe throughout my wrestling career I have had the opportunity to meet so many great people. To list them all will have me leave someone out. But one things I’ve always loved about wrestling is it is a family. I have so many wrestling friends that when we see each other at a tournament it’s like a family reunion we come up and give each other a hug. We ask each other how our immediate family is doing. We stay connected through all of it. They’ve all helped me in one way or another become the person that I’ve become today. I am not a finished product but I am thankful for many of the people that were helping me along the way.

MWR: In your first episode, you mentioned the Detroit Pistons’ Isiah Thomas, leader of the Bad Boys and 2x NBA Champs. Without giving away what you said in the podcast, what role or influence did Isiah Thomas have in your life?
Thomas: Isiah Thomas and the bad boys really influence more of my coaching career than my athletic career. I think I leaned into their mentality of going out there competing at a high-level and not being afraid of who you’re stepping up to compete with. During my competitive years guys like my brother Mario Long, Kevin Jackson, Joe Williams, David Morgan, and numerous others really influence me with their wrestling style and their hard work. They gave me something to strive for.

MWR: What does the sport of wrestling mean to you and your life?
Thomas: The biggest lesson it taught me was how to persevere through adversity. When my brother died it was a very dark time for me and my family. Wrestling was there. Whether that was going to practice, competing on Fridays, or coaching the youth kids on Saturdays, it was always there for me. Making the Cadet national team and being around great people and coaches was also very helpful for me. I feel like wrestling is a reflection of life. You get out of it what you put in it. You were going to get knocked down and lose. It is not how you lose but how you handle that loss that defines who you are. One of the best compliments I ever had from any person that watch me wrestle was they were happy to see that I handled my wins and losses with class and dignity. And that’s a microcosm of what life is. Lose, adapt, get better for success.

MWR: That's an amazing perspective. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Thomas: Very thankful to my mentors over the past 20 years. Without them I wouldn’t of been as successful both on and off the mat. They are constant encouragement that kept me going and made it so I didn’t want to fail but ultimately be a successful as I could be.

MWR: Last questions, how often should we expect a new episode and what’s the best way to catch it?
Thomas: My goal is to release content at least once or twice a month. The goal is to cover things related to wrestling. My next episode which will come out in a month will talk about my paeans of youth wrestling and what you really need to make a youth program go well. I’m going to draw my experiences from when I coach youth wrestling at Everett, too when I coached at Mason for a couple years. Also I’ll be looking to interview people in the near future to talk about sports on general and their experiences.
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The Coach T Podcast can be heard at Anchor, Spotify, Google Podcast, and many others! 
"The Coach T Podcast where we talk Coaching, and how to be a successful student athlete. I will share stories of my time be around some of the best wrestlers in the state, and the country."

Isaiah Thomas is former Coach and Official for the Sport of Wrestling. Born in raised in Lansing, Michigan. All State in High School at Lansing Everett, Two Year Varsity Letterwinner at Muskegon Community College, Ten Years as an Official for Youth/Middle/School, Regional Head Coach of the Year Recipient in 2017 at Bay City Western, Coached Two State Champs, and 11 State Placers.

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Disclaimer: MWR receives NO compensation for promotion of the Coach T Podcast, Mills Wrestling, or Your Greatest Season. We do this because it aligns with our mission: to grow and support wrestling.

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