Wahkiakum wrestlers meet a new coach


December 2, 2021

Diana Zimmerman

Garrett Radcliffe has taken the lead at Wahkiakum High School's wrestling program.

Wahkiakum High School's new wrestling coach Garrett Radcliffe has never wrestled. It doesn't matter, he's leading with a different strength, and defining his current role as manager.

In the process, he's ensuring that the program can continue for the youth who have found a love for the sport. He stepped up when he got a request from both the high school principal and the athletic director.

"I was more than happy to," Radcliffe said. "Whatever the program needs, whatever this school needs. I'm more of a manager than a coach. I'm going to get them everything they need to succeed, and looking good too."

Yes, that definitely means new warm ups and uniforms.

But it also means finding the right people who have the skills he lacks to support the Mule wrestlers and to grow into the best athletes they can be.

With him comes former Head Coach Frankie Mendez who is sharing his knowledge of wrestling, and Joshua Miller, who is acting as the team's strength and conditioning coach.

"Frankie Mendez is a great guy who has an incredible amount of knowledge," Radcliffe said. "I can tell he loves working with the kids."

Diana Zimmerman

Jeremiah Johnson, senior, and Lily Hale, sophomore, are two of this year's Mule wrestlers. Johnson has been wrestling since he was a sophomore. "I wanted something difficult and there is nothing more difficult than wrestling," he said. "You are legally allowed to beat people up. Free therapy," jested Hale, who has been wrestling for three years. After losing the opportunity last year to covid-19, they both hope to make it to the state tournament and see at least half of their teammates join them.

As for those Mule wrestlers, "I have a great group of kids. They've been grinding day in and day out," Radcliffe said. "I'm really looking forward to the season."

"It's all about mindset for me," Radcliffe said. "Our team motto is 'Attitude dictates performance.'"

Radcliffe may not have wrestled, but he played baseball and rugby in high school. He has also enjoyed a bit of hockey as an adult. He will be coaching the baseball team in the spring.

He and his wife are recent transplants from San Jose, Calif. A former firefighter and EMT, he joined the Puget Island Fire Department and is working as a para-educator and a substitute.

Looking for a change of scenery, the Radcliffes happened upon Puget Island when they googled Puget Sound.

"We got a home right on the river, and haven't looked back," Radcliffe said. "I couldn't move, because I couldn't take my dog away from that river. She's in love with it. We're happy, this community has embraced us."

Service to the community is important to Radcliffe. He finds it spiritually rewarding and really enjoys working with the kids.

"I love it," Radcliffe said. "I haven't looked back."


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