Father, son make WCA history

Marlys Good

In 2009, Tom Urbach, who coached the Greybull High School Buff wrestling team for 18 years, was induced into the Wyoming Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

  Twelve years later, in June of 2021, Tom and wife Deb will be at the Wyoming Coaches Association Hall of Fame banquet for the induction for their son, Nathan. 

 Tom and Nate are the first father-son duo to receive this honor. It will be a moment the entire family will cherish.

Nate coached wrestling for 22 years, six of those in Rushville, Neb. and 16 years at Powell. He led the Rushville squad to three state championships and Powell High School to six state championships.

Along the way he was honored as state coach of the year nine times, regional/district coach of the year eight times and was two-time NHSAC coach of the year finalist for Region 7.  During Nate’s career in Nebraska and Wyoming, he coached 48 individual state champions, six two-time state champs and three three-time state champs. 

“I’ll be there with bells on,” Tom said. It was no surprise to Tom that Nate received the honor. “In his 22 years of coaching his teams had an incredible record.”

Nate, who graduated from Greybull High School in 1992,  compiled an excellent record on the mat. 

“I was coached in wrestling by my dad from around 6 years old until l graduated,” Nate shared. “It was a lot of fun being coached by my father and he did a great job of giving me space and not pressuring me as a coach and father. I was pretty motivated internally and I think Dad could see that any added pressure would probably be counter-productive.

“Once I got into middle school, Greybull was the mecca of small classification Wyoming wrestling winning nine state titles in 11 years. I was lucky enough to be on four teams that won a state team title. Once I got into coaching I emulated my father’s style quite a bit and he was and still is a sounding board for me when I get into situations without a clear-cut answer.

“Once my son Nic got into middle school and started to show potential I tried to mirror much of what my Dad mentored with me. Nothing is as bittersweet as coaching your son in the most personal sport offered for high school students.”

“All wrestlers have their ups and downs; as a coach you learn to ride those waves but coaching your son makes each rise and fall more emotional. For me nothing (in sports arena) was as sweet as lifting my son into the air after a victory or as bitter as hugging him when he came up short. I am sure my father would echo these thoughts as well.

“My philosophy when coaching young men and women is to push them in order to extend their innate talent as far as possible while at the same time caring deeply for who they are as people.”

Tom talked about Nate’s wresting career noting, a three-time state placer and one state championship to his credit. They would often talk wrestling at home, especially if Nate had any questions, or they might watch film, discuss possible opponents, “but there was never anything negative.

As for his grandson Nic, Tom said he was also an outstanding wrestler.  He had a record of 174 wins and two state championships and two state second places. 

As to his philosophy on coaching young men, Tom said he always stressed, “hard work, and that they continue grinding it out when things don’t go the way they think they should. And I wanted them to build good memories to look back on.”


Mom’s point of view

“I am very proud of my husband and son,” said Tom’s wife and Nathan’s mother, Deb. “The love these two have for wrestling is almost overwhelming with both winning nine state titles.

“Tom has instilled in our children family values. For years, Tom worked summers to help make ends meet and we were all aware of his willingness to do it. When Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were about to be served, Tom would come to the table with a nice shirt and pants on. He told me, ‘These meals are so special with everyone together.’ I have never forgotten that.”

Tom and Deb will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next summer. “It has been a wonderful time,” Deb said. “We lived in Poplar, Mont. after Tom taught for two years in Box Elder, Mont. Tom had gotten his first state champion, Steve Schagunn; he was thrilled and told me, ‘Deb, I want it all.’ After moving on to Greybull it was beyond our wildest dreams to imagine the Greybull wrestlers would win nine state titles. I think he instilled in all his wrestlers hard work (especially running stairs).”

With Tom coaching in Greybull and Nathan In Powell, their teams met quite often during wrestling seasons. “There was always respect and love for each other, and for that I am proud.”

Deb describes her son as “the kindest son and brother anyone could have. I think he was a good example to his two sisters, Monica and Sydney. All of our three children got their college degrees and I think it helped that Nathan led the way. Nathan started his teaching and coaching career in Rushville. While there, he and his wife Hidee purchased a double-wide home. I was worried about this purchase and worried about him being able to sell it when they moved on. While I was helping him build a porch, I told him of my worry. He said, ‘I try not to worry about things I can’t change.’ I think that is a wonderful outlook.”

She is proud of how well Nathan has done in Powell, and the fact that his family are well thought of in the community.

But Deb shared, “One of the things I always think of with Nathan is that he always calls me ‘Mama.’”