PLYMOUTH - Plymouth took an opportunity to say thank you to a man who will be a legend in PHS sports for more than just being a hall of fame coach.
Plymouth wrestling coach Bob Read has announced that this season will be his last on the side of the mat for the Rockies after 39 years. Last night was his final home, regular season match and the Plymouth community, the PHS athletic department and Read's former wrestlers took the opportunity to say thank you.
The city of Plymouth said thank you as well with Mayor Mark Senter on hand to offer a proclamation by the city to honor Read for his year's of service and impact on the youth of Plymouth.
And in what could only make Read happier, his Rockies took a conference win over Concord on the way by a final of 44-30.
Former athletes locally and from all over the country took an opportunity to come back to say thank you and many who couldn't be in attendance paid tribute in recorded thoughts that were put into a video that was shared with those in attendance.
In true Bob Read fashion, there wasn't a single face that he didn't have a fond memory of.
"Every time I see a kids face I think of another story," he said. "One kid after another. This is all amazing."
Read was a regional champ himself as a senior at Plymouth High School in 1973 and went on to wrestle at Division I Western Michigan University. He knew his career path already.
"I fell in love with the sport," he said. "When I went to college I wanted to wrestle and I knew when I came out I wanted to coach because I wanted to stay a part of the sport. I was blessed with a job here at Plymouth."
In 39 years as head coach of the Rockies, Read had no less than 38 state qualifiers and multiple state champions. For Read, a man whose faith motivates him as much as his competitive nature, it was always more than just wins.
"It became a ministry for me to pour into kids," he said. "That has been my driving force."
Read's coaching always went further than just technique, it had to do with developing the qualities that make a good man, not just a good wrestler.
"My coaching staff and I talk about if we can develop character wins and losses take care of themselves," he said. "My job is not to win matches. My job is to build character and build kids with character, and when that happens we win matches. Like tonight. They had kids that were better than us and our kids outwrestled them and it's because of what my coaching staff does. I've been blessed with good coaches."
He's also had some good athletes over the years and like any successful coach, he gives the credit to those athletes, especially early on, who started the legacy.
"Starting out years ago with the Dave Shook's and the Gabe Lopez's those kids understood that you work your fanny off and good things happen," he said. "They didn't always work their fanny off and I'd let them know that."
Not one to crave any personal accolades Read is clear about what he feels his legacy will be.
"I've never put much thought into that," he said. "In four to five years when that last group has graduated I could walk into the practice room and nobody would know who I am here. I don't care that they think anything about me. What I care about is 'did I change a life?' If I changed somebody's life, they are going to impact somebody else. So I guess it's not about me. It's about who those guys are going to touch."