Coach Chris Bishop: Better character equals better wrestling competitions
Campo Verde High School wrestling head coach reflects on the team’s success
Posted on 07/03/2018
Gilbert Public Schools, Coach Chris Bishop: Better character equals better wrestling competitionsBy Eduardo Barraza | Gilbert Public Schools
 
(Gilbert, AZ) -- Chris Bishop has been a wrestling coach for two decades, but his involvement in the sport goes back to his youth, when he wrestled for his father, also a high school wrestling coach.
 
For Bishop, wrestling head coach at Campo Verde High School for the last nine years, the tough nature of the sport, one that demands extreme physical and mental effort, is its best characteristic.

Coach Chris Bishop CVHS
 
“The best thing about wrestling is that it’s really hard. It changed my life, and I see it changing other young people’s lives as well,” said Bishop. “Anytime that something is really hard in the kids’ lives, you can just see them becoming tougher in various aspects of their lives. When things get hard they are going to step up and actually do it, instead of being afraid.”
 
However, Bishop –who began coaching for Gilbert Public Schools at South Valley Junior High– feels that the most essential and gratifying aspect of high school wrestling goes beyond the wrestling mat.
 
“Anytime that something is really hard in the kids’ lives, you can just see them becoming tougher in various aspects of their lives. When things get hard they are going to step up and actually do it, instead of being afraid.” Chris Bishop, Head Wrestling Coach
“By far the most important thing, and the most enjoyable, is relationships with kids,” said Bishop. “We always say: ‘this is a lifelong relationship that we’re building,’ and so we stick to that.”
 
Bishop says these relationships continue after his students graduate from high school, with some of them returning to be assistant coaches, or just to meet him for lunch.
 
“We continue to build in their lives. From Freshman year on we start seeing them becoming more mentally tough, more accountable from the sport of wrestling,” said Bishop.

CVHS wrestling team’s accomplishments 

In the nine years since Bishop has been its head coach, the CVHS wrestling team has been among the top eight teams at the state level, with four state players, and between 30 and 35 state medal winners.
 
In June, the team attended the Rocky Mountain Wrestling Camps at Western State Colorado University, in Gunnison, Colorado. Bishop calls this tournament the team’s most successful competition. Campo Verde students were among 600 wrestlers from more than 30 high school teams that signed up for the camp.
 
“We had two kids that went to an All-Star match at the end, and we had a handful of kids with only one or two losses,” said Bishop. “As a team we had 13 wins and only two losses; our winning percentage was really high as a team.”
 
In the 2017-18 school year, Campo Verde had its second state high school wrestling champion, E.J. Galvez, whom graduated in May. He was also the school’s football team quarterback, and the starting first baseman with Campo’s baseball team.

Keys to success

Galvez is just one example of a multisport athlete, a model Campo Verde encourages students to follow. Bishop said many of his student wrestlers play multiple sports, with football being the bigger at the Campo Verde campus.
 
“[Football] Coach Ragsdale allows and promotes kids playing multiple sports; that’s rare,” said Bishop. “He also allows wrestlers to go to wrestling camp in the summer.”
 
High school students who wrestle and play more than one sport, coupled with the support from their parents and great coaching, are three factors Coach Bishop sees as keys to the team’s success.
 
“Parents make a big investment in our kids by letting them go to wrestling camp. They cost several hundred dollars,” said Bishop. “They’re going to start seeing improvements. We [also] have great wrestling coaches on our campus that are committed to relationships and to constant improvement.”
 
For Coach Bishop, this pledge to constant improvement is based on something more essential than the sport of wrestling itself, something that echoes in his students.
 
“First and foremost, we’re a character-based program, and so we’ll try to get better and better people. Our kids are out of this world, are outstanding people. We can always build on that, and always get better in our character so we can also get better in our competitions.”
 
For Campo Verde’s 17-year-old senior Tommy Towe, building character through wrestling has become a personal experience.
 
“Wrestling is fun but is also really hard; it is going to make you want to quit, but by you not quitting, wrestling is going to make you much better in everything you do.”
 
Seventeen-year-old twin brothers Trevor and Dylan Kauer, also seniors and members of the Campo Verde wrestling team, agree with Towe. The Kauer brothers are the two Campo Verde undefeated heavyweights who made the Colorado wrestling camp All-Star team in June.
(Left to right): Tommy Towe, Trevor Kauer and Dylan Kauer CVHS
“I think overall, wrestling really helps you not just in sports but in like in, say, raising a family; that brotherhood you can teach your kids,” said Dylan. “It also gives you opportunities to teach other kids in wrestling that don’t know as much as you do; it gives other kids an example to look for in our campus.”
 
Trevor seemed to sum up what Coach Bishop referred to when he talked about constant improvement and building character through wrestling.
 
“When something goes wrong, it’s easy to say, ‘I did my job but others didn’t do their job; it didn’t go well because it’s their fault’,” said Trevor. “In wrestling, if something goes wrong, it’s all my fault, and I have to look at myself and say, ‘This is what I did wrong, this is what I can do better’. That transfers to not doing homework, and I am not doing it because I am doing other things that I shouldn’t be doing, and I am getting bad grades. Then I look at myself and say, ‘Okay, this is my fault,’ and this helps me do better and get myself on track.”
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