Over the years I’ve heard the sport of wrestling take many jabs from those who never competed in it. I used to take shots as well. Not anymore. Now I’m a believer. After following the sport the last 10 years, I’ve come to acknowledge that there is no other competition that takes as much discipline as wrestling. And that’s what makes what the coaches at Arcadia High School did last weekend that much more numbing.
I’ve made mistakes before. So have you. And ultimately that’s what former Arcadia wrestling head coach Dane Kirian, varsity assistant Heath Hill, unpaid volunteer assistant Michael Miller and middle school coach Adam Kirian did last weekend.
On the first night of a two-day invite at Sandusky St. Mary High School, three of the four (Hill, Miller and Adam Kirian) were cited for alcohol related offenses – at 4 a.m. in the morning.
According to police reports filed by the Perkins Township Police Department, Hill and Miller were cited for open containers outside of the Comfort Inn in Sandusky. An ensuing inspection of a motel room unveiled Dane Kirian who was “very intoxicated and had vomit on his arm.” He was also unable to stand up when instructed to do so, falling back on the bed after an attempt to get up.
Kirian’s son Adam (age 20) was arrested for underage consumption and taken to the Erie County Jail. He was released after posting a $265 bond.
All the students slept through the incident. At the board meeting, Kirian disputed the police report.
According to the Findlay Courier, the Arcadia Schools administration determined the quartet had violated the district’s athletic code of conduct and the school's guidelines for a drug- and alcohol-free workplace. As a result the four were asked to resign and submitted letters stating they would do so Monday. Tuesday the foursome tried to rescind their letters after a meeting with parents in which they were urged to “fight for their jobs” by many supporters.
The board refused to rescind the resignations and a special board meeting was held Wednesday during which everyone was allowed to voice opinions. Most were in favor of Kirian and the other coaches keeping their jobs. It didn’t matter.
And honestly it shouldn’t.
When it comes to matters regarding children – and as hard as it may seem to think of high school students as kids these days that’s what these wrestlers are – there’s no room for a mental lapse or one in judgment.
In wrestling the margin for error is slimmer than in any other sport. Same goes for coaching – any sport.
I’ve had drinks with coaches before. But not when there was a team under their watch, not on the eve of a competition and not outside a motel room at 4 a.m.
I applaud the parents for their support of Kirian because I believe in loyalty. I also question their support.
If I was a parent of a wrestler on the team, I would want to know one thing – why 4 a.m.?
Of all the numbers involved here four is the most important. Not because four coaches were involved and not because some reports have Dane Kirian being up some 40 straight hours since he works third shift.
No. The big question mark here is why were Hill and Miller up at 4 a.m. with open containers? Ultimately that mistake led to the discovery of the others.
Wrestling commenced six hours after the citations at 10 a.m. The day would have Saturday at least a good two hours before that with showers, breakfast, travel, weigh-ins and warm-ups. Coaches need sleep too. And some apparently need chaperones of their own.
Wrestling is a sport where kids take drastic measures to make weight and then muscle up one-on-one in a six-minute marathon. The difference between winning and losing comes down to seconds, centimeters and a few more drops of sweat. Mental toughness often rivals physical.
Here the hurt is evident. Kirian and his staff are out of jobs and the team has to refocus on the verge of the postseason. Only one meet remains until the sectional tournament.
The good news is that the board hired Kirian’s brother Dean Kirian to coach the team the rest of the season.
In some strange way, there is a second chance after all.