DICKINSON, ND- Long time head wrestling coach, Thadd O’Donnell, has decided to hang up his practice singlet and resign after 20 years at the helm of the Dickinson State University Wrestling program.
“The decision to step down as the head wrestling coach was not taken lightly. I spent my adult life working in DSU wrestling program and trying to develop a program that Dickinson State University alumni can be proud of. In the 20 years I have had so many people help me become who I am today. I definitely would not have been able to accomplish anything without the total support of my family,” said O’Donnell.
“Tracie, Danielle and Seth were always part of the wrestling program. They gave their heart and soul to the program for me. I will never be able to thank them enough for the support they provided. Coaching is a roller coaster ride and they never bailed out,” O’Donnell said about his family support.
At the time of his resignation, O’Donnell is ranked third in most wins amongst active coaches. He ends his career with a record of 122-72 and has been named Coach of the Year eight times. Under O’Donnell, the Blue Hawks have been named regional champions six times.
At the national level, O’Donnell has coached 105 All-Americans while his teams have finished in the top 16 for all of his 20 years and has finished in the top 10 for 13 years as the head coach. O’Donnell’s teams have finished in the top five in 2000 (4th), 2006 (4th), 2007 (3rd), and 2008 (3rd).
“The coaching staff at DSU is without a question the best in the nation. It isn’t just because they are great in their respected sport but because of their support of all coaches on staff. I have never been in a position that I didn’t want to go into the office and never thought of my coaching as a job but more of a way of life. I have had the pleasure of working with a great number of coaches and assistant coaches in my time as a wrestling coach. I have learned from every one of them and without a doubt I will cherish the memories and always use our wrestling team motto – NO REGRETS,” said O’Donnell.
Coach O’Donnell has coached four individual national champions. Larry Johnson in 2003 at 174 lb. Tyson Springer in 2005 at 165 lbs. Justin Schlect in 2006, 2007 and 2008 at 197 lbs. Schlecht was also named National Wrestler of the Year in 2007. Jesse Hellinger in 2014 at 197 lbs.
“Thadd has been a long time leader in our wrestling program and he has produced a few national champions as well as having his team finish extremely high nationally every year. Not only having so many All- Americans named, he has also had a lot of Academic All- Americans which shows his high importance to his student-athletes excelling in the classroom,” said DSU Athletic Director Tim Daniel.
“We appreciate Thadd for his longtime service not only to our wrestling program and athletic department but also to Dickinson State University,” said Daniel.
Coach O’Donnell will continue to be the chair of the physical education department, teacher, and head golf coach at Dickinson State University.