With the retirement of Coach Clarence Evans, the Grantsville Cowboys boys wrestling program welcomes 1999 GHS graduate and wrestler, Jake Phillips, as the head coach. Phillips, who was coached by Evans in the Grantsville Little League wrestling program, brings over 35 years of wrestling experience to the position. When asked his feelings about returning to coach at his alma mater, Phillips was exuberant.
“It is beyond exciting. I think every athlete that starts to coach has the dream of going back and coaching their alma mater. I am excited to take over a program that has a strong foundation and elevate the program to be a premier program in the state.”
He explained the process. “When the position opened up, I looked at it as an opportunity to go back to my alma mater and coach. Being at Stansbury for 12 years, GHS was the only other school I would have looked to move to. When the position opened up, it was not a no-brainer that I would apply. I had mixed feelings about leaving the program and the relationships that I have helped build, but the ability to put my stamp on a program that I came from and the nudges from family ended up being the right timing.”
Phillips began wrestling at age 5 and grew up wrestling in the USA wrestling program. In high school, he was coached by Neil and Eugene Evans, Clarence Evans’ older brothers, as well as Todd Thompson. He was a three-time state placer and a state finalist. He also wrestled collegiately under Steve Christensen at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs. “The most important thing I learned from all of them was to outwork everyone in the room and be open to all coaching,” he shared.
He has been coaching at Stansbury High School for the past 12 years where he “helped build the program that has produced a number of state champs, placers, and qualifiers.” As he moves to his first head coaching position at Grantsville, he has a vision for the program.
“Champions in the classroom and community as well as on the mat. I need to have wrestlers that are committed to doing the right things outside of the wrestling room. In the room, I will need to have the wrestlers buy into my coaching style and technique. I have been around this sport a long time and had some amazing coaching peers and mentors to learn from. I will need the wrestlers to understand we are all working towards a common goal and be open to change.”
As he begins his tenure he is eager to build on the foundation Evans built and add to it.
“I think the biggest challenge is going to be to get wrestlers in our youth program and high school program. If we can get numbers at the youth level and build a solid foundation, when they start the high school program they are ready to hit the ground running.”
In 3A wrestling where Grantsville competes, Juab has won the last five state team championships 2017-2021. Phillips credits their success to their strong youth program and hopes to help build a similar tradition in Grantsville.
“Juab is an amazing program, and I have nothing but respect for what Coach Holman has built. When you look at Juab it starts with their youth program. If you build a strong youth program that puts in time during the winter and spring it only helps your high school program. The high school coaches have to be very active with the youth program to make sure they are teaching the same technique that will be used at the high school level.” Although Phillips is eager to take over the Grantsville program, he is grateful for his experience with the Stansbury High program where he was also able to help coach his son, Brayden, for the past four years. “I didn’t get started coaching to coach my son, but I got the opportunity to coach him,” he noted. As he leaves SHS, “it is a bag of mixed emotions. It goes back to I have been with that program for 12 years, and the SHS wrestlers and families have been so supportive to me and my family. I will always cheer on the success of the Stallions from a distance.”
“Taking over the Grantsville program has always been something I dreamed about. When I made the decision to start coaching 12 years ago, my initial thought was to try and join the staff at Grantsville. I have always followed the Cowboys at a distance, I have past and current wrestlers that I have coached in the spring that wrestled for Grantsville. I am excited to make new relationships and build a program. So it’s bittersweet to be leaving SHS and taking over GHS.”
Phillips’ close ties to the SHS program will also help to elevate the overall level of wrestling in the valley. “Absolutely I think we can all work together. The stronger all three and soon-to-be-four schools in the valley are in wrestling, the better. I have a great relationship with Tyson Linnell and the coaches at SHS and look forward to building the same relationships with the new coaches at Tooele. I think if we all work together to build Tooele Valley into a wrestling community it helps all the high schools to compete at a top level.”
Phillips is eager to work with the existing youth program in Grantsville to “make sure we are all on the same page and have a common goal.” He also plans to “start a USA wrestling club for the wrestlers who want to take the next steps and wrestle in the spring with Freestyle and Greco.”
As a wrestling coach, Phillips believes that the most important thing he can do is to “make sure every wrestler leaves your program a little better off than when he started. Coaching is not all about wins, it is about coaching a wrestler to be prepared for life.”
Phillips’ years of wrestling have prepared him for this step in his life and for the opportunity to share his coaching philosophy with the next generation of wrestlers at GHS. “You get back what you put in. The harder you work in the room to better yourself, the easier it becomes to perform when it matters.”
On a personal note, Jake and his wife Kandi will have been married for 20 years in August. His son Brayden graduated from Stansbury High in May and will attend Graceland University in Iowa on an academic and wrestling scholarship. Phillips is an Area Manager and IT Client Service manager for a company based out of Tampa. In his spare time, he enjoys anything outdoors. He plays golf and recently picked up mountain biking.
Any boys interested in wrestling at Grantsville High can contact coach Phillips by email at email@example.com or meet him in person at the GHS Meet the Wrestling Coaches Event on Tuesday, July 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Grantsville High School commons.