Wrestling Coach’s Induction is Scheduled for October
Quietly moving about the orange foam mats, Dan Pry’s presence in the Atascadero High School Ewing Gymnasium during winter wrestling season carries a lifetime of achievement garnered by few in the nation. On October 17 in Long Beach, Pry will be inducted into the CIF Southern Section Hall of Fame, on the dawn of a story that began 25 years ago.
In the fall of 1983, Pry arrived at AHS to take over a program which had not won a league championship in five years. From that day to this, the Greyhounds have won or shared a league championship 20 of the last 25 years.
Under Pry’s coaching, AHS won four consecutive CIF Championships and seven total between 1984 and 1995 — ‘84, ’85, ’86, ’87, ’89 and two in ’95 in individual and duals. In Pry’s time as assistant coach, the ‘Hounds won CIF four more times — ’03, ’04, ’09, ’10. Overall, his teams finished as CIF runners-up — ’88, ’99, ’02, ’07, ’08, ’09.
When the orange and grey poured through the doors of opposing gymnasiums throughout the CIF Southern Section, it was nothing less than imposing.
He built solid relationships with the faculty and community, that to this day still resonate.
“Dan set a fundamental and lasting imprint on those who joined our staff and program in many ways,” AHS athletic director Sam Derose said. “First and foremost as a mentor and leader and role model for our student-athletes.”
Pry was instrumental in setting a tone and delivering results that still resonates with the program and paints the walls of the AHS training facility. When freshman wrestlers look up at the plaques on the walls and read the names of the wrestlers that came before them, they stand in the shadows of greatness — but the wrestlers that hang as legends on the walls were also once scrawny freshman, looking up at names before them.
“Everyone wrestler who walks in the room gets the idea that they are a part of something bigger and Dan Pry has his hand in all of it,” former athlete Chris Ferree wrote in his nomination letter to CIF.”
Ferree wrestled for Pry for thee years, and served as an assistant for six. In turn, Pry served as assistant to Ferree for 10 years and both assisted the program over the last five years.
That is the legacy Pry built, and over the past 25 years, the Greyhounds produced 146 CIF place-winners and seven State place-winners — but winning was a byproduct.
“Dan will be the first to tell you, [accolades] is not what the program is about,” “The strength of Dan Pry’s legacy is the family concept he has instilled in Atascadero. Dan Pry is the heart of Atascadero wrestling.
“He has built, established and nurtured a framework for wrestling in our community, a thriving opportunity for young people to experience benefits of participation in the great sport of wrestling. Dan created an environment where relationships were as important as the skills learned. Dan used wrestling as a medium to bring families and individuals together to strive toward something bigger than any individual.”
Wrestling is a family tradition for Pry, and built a community around the program at AHS that still ripples with the heartbeat of the principles instilled long ago. It was about community for Pry, of which wrestling was one part.
Pry designed the New Years Revolution tournament, unlike any other format in the state. He helped start the Atascadero Wrestling Club for 5th through 8th grade kids. He started the “Bones BBQ” as a socialization hub for Atascadero coaches, teachers, parents, and community.
He coached 15 years of freshman football, and 10 years of tennis for boys and girls teams.
Dan himself was a California Southern Section champion in 1965, wrestled for National Champion Cal Poly, coached nine years at Newbury Park H.S., and earned the “Distinguished Service Award” at the 1984 Olympics.
Of all his accomplishments, the one that resonates with the community, and has made the most lasting impact, is with personal relationships with those associated with the AHS wrestling program.
“No honor can ever adequately recognize what Dan Pry means to me as a mentor, coach and friend,” Ferree continued. “I have been around wrestling long enough to know greatness. I can think of no more fitting an honor than to nominate Dan Pry for the Hall of Fame.”