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East Ridge wrestling: Horning steps down as coach

East Ridge head wrestling coach Hans Horning has stepped down after four seasons leading the Raptors.

There is something special about being first. That is what drew Hans Horning to apply for the East Ridge wrestling coaching position four years ago.

Starting a program from scratch, setting the traditions, initiating the work ethic, getting a youth program going, dedicating the enormous amount of time to get it all off the ground, Horning said.

"All of those things interested me," Horning said. "But it does wear on you after some time."

Horning is stepping down from the head coaching position after four years sighting multiple reasons - two young daughters, living 60 miles from the East Ridge High School campus and the need to find full-time employment closer to home.

Horning said the kicker was a serious car accident he was involved in back in January. Heading home from practice in the dark, Horning ran into a stalled vehicle in the middle lane of 494 at full speed. His car flipped and he sustained two cracked ribs, but only missed one day of practice.

"I can?t say my life flashed in front of my eyes during the accident," Horning said, "but family has always been at the top of my list and the importance of wrestling sure fell a few notches that day."

Horning and his wife Kim have a 3 year-old and 1 year-old daughter.

The hour drive to and from East Ridge also played a big part.

"The plan was to move closer after the first season but with the housing market as it is that

never worked out, nor does it look like it will for a while longer," Horning said.

Even with the drive, Horning has missed less than five days of practice for both football (he was the sophomore coach the past three seasons) and wrestling in his time at East Ridge. The amount of time driving also hinders finding a full time job, not to mention the drain on finances for gas. Horning has been relying on substitute teaching and other part-time work to fill the gap.

"I have really enjoyed staying home with my girls the past few years," Horning said. "But I do need to start bringing home something bigger than a high school coach's paycheck."

Starting a program from scratch is hard enough. Doing it without veteran athletes is even harder, Horning said, but it's exactly what he and his staff had to do at East Ridge.

"That first year we had four kids with experience," Horning said. "We scoured the halls and found 20 others that were willing to give it a try. Twelve of them made it through the entire season."

East Ridge took its lumps, winning just one match that first year. However, this past season the Raptors posted a 12-13 overall mark finishing with 27 wrestlers, 23 of them being what Horning said were "veterans."

"We?ve come quite a way from year one," he said. "Hopefully East Ridge will be able to find a veteran coach to come in and pick up where we left off. They should have 13 seniors next season so there is some real possibilities for Raptor wrestling next year."

Horning leaves with a career record at East Ridge of 30 wins, 77 losses. The Raptors have sent a wrestler to state in three of the first four seasons and have had a state place-winner, in junior Reid Lyden, the past two years. The search for a new East Ridge wrestling coach has already begun.

Horning leaves East Ridge as one of the few individuals who has wrestled, coached and officiated in the High School state tournament, however, his coaching future is uncertain at this point.

Asked if he will get back into coaching next season he stated, "Not unless it is real close to home. The priority right now is a full-time job so that will have a big impact on whether I coach or not."