May 24, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorThe former Riverton grappler is the new Big Red mat boss.
Brandon Giddings knows what it takes to be a wrestler.
Now, he will be in charge of the very same squad he once battled for on the mats himself, as the Wolverines alum has been named Riverton's new head wrestling coach.
"Being a head coach is something I've always wanted to do," said Giddings, 38, and a member of Riverton's class of 1997. "You always want to see if you can succeed and the timing of this opportunity was right."
Giddings inherits a talented squad, with Class 3-A state champions Hayden Wempen and Ridge Briggs already in the fold, along with a stable of wrestlers who are poised to take their performances to the next level.
That is where Giddings comes in, he said.
"It's always a tricky thing as a new coach coming in," said Giddings. "You definitely want to make sure you don't let them regress."
Being a wrestling coach is much different from a ball sport in there are no Xs and Os, but a unique and individual mental and physical approach needed for each athlete, something Giddings embraces.
"We have an overall program set up for the entire team," said Giddings. "After that, you break it down for each individual. But, everybody knows and is taught the same things -- how to beat your opponent."
Giddings fought another battle of an entirely different kind, being diagnosed with liver disease during his high school career, eventually needing a transplant.
"It certainly breaks you down," said Giddings. "But, the liver's a resilient thing."
Besides, he always had sports to lean on even during tough times, he said.
"It's why sports have been so good for me," said Giddings. "It always keeps you going in the right direction."
According to Giddings, part of his role as head coach is to constantly look to replenish the ranks of his squad.
"We're always looking to get more kids interested in wrestling," said Giddings. "In the long term, that's how you build a stronger program."
Giddings hopes to use his experiences as a grappler himself as a way to impart valuable wisdom to his new pupils, he said.
"One of the biggest things is to pass knowledge on," said Giddings. "These kids are getting a lot thrown at them and the sport tests every part of you."
One of the most gratifying aspects of his involvement in coaching to this point in his career is when he sees what his former athletes are up to in their post-Wolverine days, he said.
"It's fun to see the kids grow up," said Giddings. "What they do after high school is always interesting."
Although Giddings acknowledges the dedication wrestling requires, he also knows it provides opportunity, he said.
"It's definitely a different sport, emotionally and physically," said Giddings. "But, these guys need to realize what it can do for you in going through life with what it teaches you."
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