Jim Douglas

The Wisconsin press had names for him: "the Master", "the Dean", "Mr. Wrestling of Wisconsin" and one writer said Jim Douglas' teams of the 1960s "have been the scourge of Wisconsin prep wrestling circles for ten years". Those were the days of single class competition, when Coleman's enrollment never exceeded three hundred eighty five. The Cougars' fabled wrestling superiority began in 1955 when Douglas proposed to launch the sport in Coleman, where he was already a chemistry and biology instructor. Principal Walter Ott asked Douglas if he could produce a winning season within five years. Douglas' response; "You bet, we'll have a state championship in five years". He had good reason to be optimistic. His wrestling journey began years before as a teen. As a prep in West Lafayette, Indiana, Douglas was a team of one since the high school didn't have a program. To prepare for competition, Douglas trained with members of the Purdue University team. Later, he attended Purdue and was one of several wrestlers nationally to vie for a berth on the Olympic team. In 1935 Douglas earned a B.S degree at Purdue. He then attended Ohio State University where he received his Master's of Science degree in 1937. After accepting a position with US Department of Agriculture in Maryland, Douglas convinced the University of Maryland to institute a wrestling program. Between 1939 and 1941, Douglas, a former Purdue mat star, coached the Maryland Terrapins to successive winning seasons. But his coaching career at College Park was interrupted by WW2, when he was commissioned a Navy Lieutenant in 1942, and assigned to teach combat pilots self defense. At the same time, he married Maryalys Seery in Stephenson, Mich. Later, he served in the Pacific theatre until he was honorably discharged as a Lt. Cmdr. in 1946. In 1951 Douglas and his family moved to Pound, Wisconsin where he farmed until he was offered a teaching position at Coleman High School in 1954. His dream to return to wrestling was realized a year later. For seven years, between 1959 and 1966, Douglas' Coleman teams dominated Wisconsin wrestling, winning five championships and two runners-up. But winning could be painful, especially for the boys. At a state sectional meet in 1966, Douglas, his coaching staff, the Cougars and the Coleman cheering section were jeered and booed by fans in the stands. Douglas' Cougars had amassed a stunning 99-2 dual record over eight years and the term "dynasty" generally described Coleman wrestling. However, little Coleman, with its 350 students, was no longer the darling of Wisconsin wrestling. Coincidently, Jim Douglas was credited with establishing wrestling as a major high school sport in Wisconsin. After winning their last state crown in 1966, Coleman no longer dominated. Winning seasons followed but Douglas' health suffered. He'd undergone quadruple bypass surgery in 1964 and on January 15, 1970 he resigned as head coach and was hospitalized in Marshfield, Wisconsin. One month later he died after a series of heart attacks.


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