WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT SCHAACK VAN DEUSEN
"I had the fortune of working with Schaack for 26 years. He was always a teacher first who viewed the wrestling arena as a classroom where you teach character, manners, humility, discipline and the meaning of sacrifice and hard work in order to achieve one's goals. Schaack exemplified for me what a privilege it was to be a part of Baylor School and its rich tradition in education and the many facets of learning lessons in life. One word particularly personifies Schaack: excellence. Even playing golf with him is a rewarding experience."
-- Former UTC and Baylor wrestling coach Jim Morgan
"He does the right things for the right reasons. He spent as much time as it took to get the job done, and he never wanted any credit."
-- Baylor wrestling coach Ben Nelson
"He is Baylor all the way. More than anyone I know, he represents the face of Baylor. I coached against all three head coaches, but he is and was the face of Baylor wrestling. It's amazing how he can step away from the sport after each season ends, park it for eight months and then be as effective as he is. Frankly I marveled at how he's kept up with the sport and its many changes while he follows wrestling only during the high school season. It takes a special talent that he obviously has."
-- Longtime McCallie coach Gordon Connell
"Coach Van Deusen has obviously had a tremendous influence on hundreds of young men during his career. The life lessons that have been taught in the wrestling room under his guidance will have a lasting impact on this world long after his tenure at Baylor is over."
-- TSSAA assistant director Mark Reeves
"Anybody who knows Schaack knows that he is 100 percent devoted, whether in the classroom or on the mat. There's no doubting his commitment to cultivating not just great wrestlers but great men; his humility and quiet passion have instilled respect for him among the students and certainly makes a parent like me grateful that my three children were able to work and grow with him while at Baylor."
-- Baylor parent Dr. Keith Helton
"Schaack has been a major part of wrestling in Tennessee. He always coached hard, competed hard but always with class and as a professional."
-- former TSSAA executive director Ronnie Carter
"When he announced his retirement, he did it in true Schaack fashion: no great fanfare, all attention on the kids. The sport of wrestling in this area was blessed to have Coach Schaack van Deusen."
-- longtime Cleveland coach Al Miller
Schaack Van Deusen doesn't own a cell phone and probably never will. It will be more difficult to find him, though, when the current school year ends.
He recently followed through on a personal plan, announcing he would retire from Baylor after 35 years in the school's drama department and as an assistant wrestling coach.
"I had planned on retiring at the same time my daughter [Sarah] graduated. I've coached and directed for 40 years, and that seems a nice round number," he said. "I'm going to play golf, raise my fourth-grade daughter and be the chauffeur [to and from Baylor] when she gets to the sixth grade.
"I'm going to miss it a lot, but quite frankly I wanted to go out on top of my game. I was a huge baseball fan as a kid, and it always disturbed me to watch my heroes stay in the game too long."
Van Deusen, 68, was at Notre Dame for five years before going to Baylor. He has been a hero to countless youngsters.
"I discovered that the wrestling mat was a great teaching tool," he said. "You got to ask kids to do far more than they thought they were capable of, and being around young people has kept me young."
Doug Dyer, a heavyweight state champion for Baylor in 1978, said Van Deusen "knew how to push people's buttons, and if you got too big for your britches he'd cut your feet out from under you. Humility was a big part of his game."
A recent Red Raider gave similar testimony.
"He's intense and he was never afraid to tell you how he felt," offered Matthew Cate, who won his first state title last weekend. "I had many a chewing. I think all of us have had our fair share. And he was big about class -- no showboating or being demonstrative about a referee's call. Just get the job done.
"He demanded that we be respectful on and off the mat. He wanted you to beat your opponent but to beat him with class."
Ooltewah coach Wendell Weathers has faced Van Deusen teams as both a wrestler and a coach. As a Red Bank wrestler, he was among the numerous athletes who went to Baylor for some of the Red Raiders' infamous pre-state-tournament workouts.
"He ran some of the most intense practices during state-tournament week," Weathers said. "In the past 35 years Baylor wrestlers have always been in the right places at the right times doing the right things, and that is Schaack Van Deusen to the core."
Opposing coaches also think often of Van Deusen as a tactician and one of the premier scouts in the sport.
"As others have said, he was probably best at laying out a strategy to win a particular match," said Al Miller, who has been a head coach and an assistant at Cleveland High. "I know one of my biggest worries was to face a Baylor wrestler in the first round of the [pre-divided] state tournament. I worried about the time that Schaack had to prepare a plan to defeat my wrestler."
Scouting and preparation were second nature to Van Deusen.
"I was fascinated with strategy, scouting and preparation," he said. "Like what we do at Baylor -- we prepare individuals for individual matches. There's a lot of homework in that, but it was happy homework."
Ashley Brooks, a former Baylor athlete who headed programs at City and Lookout Valley, always knew what his wrestlers -- including state champions Tim Voiles and Dusty Griffith -- were going to face against Baylor competitors.
"My guys always got their toughest matches because Schaack had them scouted so well," Brooks said. "He was such a master at having Baylor prepared, you knew you had to bring your 'A' game or you were going to get your you-know-what handed to you."
That was Van Deusen's trademark from his time on Lookout Mountain playgrounds where he was tutored by Buck Stamps through his letter-winning years as a Baylor football and baseball player and wrestler and his career as an assistant to legendary Major Luke Worsham, Jim Morgan and Ben Nelson.
Current coach Nelson pointed up at the wrestling-room wall where the program's championship banners hang and said, "Every time Baylor's had a top-two finish, he's been a part of it."
That's 21 traditional or state duals titles and 80 state champions, plus 10 state champions during his time at Notre Dame.
The championships, though, were always secondary.
"We always wanted our boys to remember and behave like they were scholar athletes," Van Deusen said. "I've loved every team we've had, and I hope I have 'tough-loved' the third-stringers just as much as the starters.
"I remember one year we finished 19th in the state. Coach Worsham said we can't win it every year but we taught them all we wanted to teach them. I felt that way this year. We didn't quite fulfill the dream, but we taught them what we wanted to teach."
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 ...
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