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New C-K coach ready to teach his Bulldogs

James Dodson

It is often the case that outstanding athletes don’t necessarily always make the best coaches.

Sometimes, their skills are so highly-refined and second nature to them that they have trouble imparting their knowledge to those under their charge who may not be nearly as gifted.

James Dodson, who was recently hired as the new head wrestling coach at Claysburg-Kimmel, doesn’t believe that teaching his skills will be a problem for him.

Dodson, 26, won 141 career matches in a four-year wrestling career at Claysburg that saw him earn two District 6 Class 2A championships and one Southwest Class 2A Regional Tournament title, while also qualifying for the PIAA state tournament three times — including as a 132-pound senior — before graduating in 2012.

“I think that I am going to be able to do a good job teaching the kids at all levels,” said Dodson, who served as a junior high school assistant coach at Claysburg last year. “I’m going to be doing my best, that’s for sure.”

Dodson learned from one of the best coaches in the state during his high school days — former Claysburg and current Central coach Dave Marko. Marko, who has achieved over 300 career dual-meet victories and was inducted into the District 6 Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2019, helped to take Claysburg’s program to the highest level.

“I know that my coach in high school, Dave Marko, was a good high school wrestler himself, and he was very good at teaching all different kinds of wrestling,” Dodson said of Marko, who was a PIAA Class 3A state qualifier for Connellsville High School in 1990. “I saw how he did it, and I figured that since I was a pretty good high school wrestler, I could teach just as well.”

Along with the ordinary challenges of taking the reins of an athletic program, Dodson also faces a big additional hurdle that he shares with all other area high school sports coaches — negotiating the restraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, in which cases locally and throughout the state have spiked recently.

“I just want to get more people out for wrestling, and win some matches,” Dodson said. “I want to have a positive impact on the program and on the community as a whole. I’m not sure if we’re going to have a season this year, but if we do, I want to be prepared for it.

“I’d like to get a full team together, have some kids go to districts, regionals, and states, if they can,” Dodson said. “I’m going to try my best to get them there. We’ll abide by the guidelines, we’ll work hard, and put forth the effort. But we’re going to have to work around COVID. It’s not going to be the other way around.”

Claysburg-Kimmel athletic director Brian Helsel has no doubts about Dodson’s work ethic.

“James grew up in this community, he started wrestling at the age of four, and he has always been an extremely hard worker,” Helsel said. “His record speaks for itself. More importantly, James has the passion and energy to do what it takes to get more kids involved in the sport of wrestling here.

“We feel that James will not only do a great job, but will represent the (school) district well,” Helsel added. “We are excited about what he brings to the wrestling program.”

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