After the final match of the Missouri High School State wrestling tournament in 1980, only two points separated first from third place in the class 1A-3A bracket.
Brett Hazelrigg was a varsity wrestler for Brookfield High School at the time. He wasn’t a star, but he put on a bold performance.
“I wasn’t one of the stars, but I did score two points and we only won by one,” Hazelrigg said.
Dennis Noel, Brookfield’s head wrestling coach, called Hazelrigg an important member of the team. He was a hard working kid who loved wrestling, showed up every day and did everything that was asked of him.
Hazelrigg, now 56, has returned as a coach. He began working with the Columbia Wrestling Club in 2011 when his son Frank, then 5, joined the team. The club promotes a positive wrestling experience for kids ages 5 to 14.
“It wasn’t that I had coaching experience,” he said. “It was that I had wrestling experience.”
Mike Flanagan, head coach of the team, said Hazelrigg brings energy and passion to the team.
“He’s a little more low-key,” Flanagan said, and not as “loud and boisterous as I am.”
Hazelrigg prefers a hands-on coaching approach. At practice, he can be seen wrestling with the kids, teaching in between bouts and pointing to places where a kid needs to place a hand or leg mid-wrestle.
He generously gives his time and resources to support the kids, Flanagan said, and they know he’s there because he cares about them and wants them to improve.
“If we don’t allow them to experience failure, support them and encourage them to come back, then we’re crippling them,” Flanagan said. “Brent gets that.”
Hazelrigg said that the highs of the sport outweigh the lows, but both have lessons to teach.
“It’s not always fun when you’re getting smashed [during a match],” he said.
Aside from simply coaching, Hazelrigg also has to balance being a father. He said he tries to strike a balance between by waiting until practice to offer feedback from the match and leaving the drive home free for non-wrestling talk.
“Being a coach and a father is tricky,” he said. You “put on the coaching hat and be a parent once the match is over.”
Flanagan said Hazelrigg treats his son as he does the other kids in the club. Most people who come to watch practice wouldn’t know who his kid is, Flanagan said.
After all, it’s family that got Hazelrigg back into wrestling after 20 years away from the sport.
He moved to Texas after college where wrestling wasn’t a big deal. In a pre-internet era, it was also hard to keep up with the sport.
“[There were] several years where I really didn’t think about it,” he said.
It wasn’t until his nephews were wrestling in high school that he became an avid spectator.
He had moved to Virginia where he would grab anyone who would go with him and head over to a tournament. He was also flying back to Missouri every year to watch his nephews in the state meet.
Now, he vows to coach as long as he is able to, although he believes it will be a challenge when his son moves into high school wrestling. He anticipates being at the practices, but he might have to miss tournaments for the club to attend the high school meets.
“You get an excused absence for those,” he said.
“Being a coach and a father is tricky. You put on the coaching hat and be a parent once the match is over.” Brent Hazelrigg Coach and father