Bradley Central assistant coach Brandon Forrester (left) and head coach Steve Logsdon in action during the State Wrestling Championships at Franklin, Tennessee. Staff photo by Robin Rudd/Chattanooga Times Free Press
After 20 years, 408 wrestling meets and countless tournaments, Bradley Central coach Steve Logsdon isn’t just leaving his wrestling shoes on the mat. He’s taking them with him.
The legendary coach, who took up where current Bradley athletic director Turner Jackson left off, took the Bears to their first team state championship in the 1994 duals and added 19 more between the TSSAA traditional and duals tournaments.
“It’s the right time,” Logsdon said Friday. “There are no frustrations beyond those that any wrestling coach has. We’re looking at a situation where the program is going to be left in good hands. I feel good about it.”
Logsdon was among the state’s elite coaches.
“When I think of Steve, I have mixed feelings — number one because he’s a friend, and number two because I always want to beat him,” Soddy-Daisy coach Steve Henry said. “I think the world of the guy. There probably is no better motivator than him as a coach. He has brought those kids from depths to being ready to chop your head off. He has to be considered one of the best around.”
Logsdon, the Bears’ first state champion, ends his coaching career with a record of 382-26 and 35 wrestlers who have won at least one traditional state championship plus 16 high school All-Americans.
He made special note of the support the sport had received from the high school administration and the Bradley County schools central office.
“The support they have given to the sport and to our program has been phenomenal, and you don’t find that everywhere. The people in charge at those levels have been outstanding,” he said.
His list of winners includes current University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Heath Eslinger; former Moc Matt Keller, a two-time NCAA All-American and four-time Tennessee state champion; and Rusty Blackmon, who enjoyed four team championships during his time at Oklahoma State.
More recently, former Bears state champion Michael Creagan went to Duke on scholarship and graduated. His brother Travis, a four-time state medalist and two-time state champion, wrestled at Columbia, and he and Justin Spain (Princeton), a two-time state medalist with one state title, are scheduled to graduate in May.
The likely candidate to succeed Logsdon is former Bradley wrestler Ben Smith, who has been a Logsdon assistant for seven seasons after a college career at UTC. Logsdon’s staff this past season also included Hank Rains, Brandon Forrester and Jared McDaniels.
“The assistants I had are ready to lead, and I have no reservations about that at all,” Logsdon said.
He took time to reflect briefly on the sport and Bradley Central.
“I can’t overstate what wrestling has done for me,” he said. “It gave me a way to go to college (UTC), which in turn led me into the teaching and coaching professions, and how many people can say they go to work and enjoy their job every day? I have that because of the sport of wrestling.
“I identify with high school wrestling. To summarize, I’m richer because of the sport and the people in the sport. I’ll miss the relationships with the kids — seeing them struggle, sometimes fail and then achieve — and with rival coaches and the media.”
He said he would still be around but definitely more low-profile.
“I can go to a tournament and enjoy that. I can be a fan without the stress of kids making weight, dealing with all the little details that go with coaching,” he said. “If a future coach wants my input as a friend or as someone with a little experience, I’ll offer it, but only if they ask for it.
“My job is to step back. I realize these guys aren’t going to do everything like I did. I had the best [high school] coach I know in Coach Jackson, and he told me not to try and coach like somebody else but to be my own coach. It will be their program, and I’m going to stay out of the way.”
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...