July 8, 2011
MADISON, Wis. – Former Badger All-American Kyle Ruschell, who spent last season as a volunteer assistant coach at Wisconsin, has been promoted to assistant coach, wrestling head coach Barry Davis announced on Friday.
“I’m very excited about Kyle being on the staff,” Davis said. “He’s been through the system and he’s been successful as an athlete. He was a volunteer assistant with us last year so he’s been through the recruiting process and he understands that aspect.
“He’s still competing and training as an athlete so he understands the expectations as an athlete. He can balance those out. He’s great in the wrestling room and we’ve got great kids coming in so that can benefit them on the mat as well.”
A native of Crittenden, Ky., Ruschell spent five years on the Wisconsin wrestling team (2005-10), where he became a two-time All-American at 149 lbs. and earned third and fourth place at the NCAA championships in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
“I’m excited,” Ruschell said of his new endeavor. “I love the school here and I love the program. I’ve been a part of it for six years and I never want to be anywhere else. This is where my heart is now and this is home for me.”
After his career ended following the 2009-10 season, Ruschell spent last season as a volunteer with the Badgers and he felt it was an invaluable experience.
“It helped me separate myself from the guys a bit,” he said. “I’m young and I hadn’t coached before, but it gave me that year to develop as a coach and separate myself from the guys to get them to listen to me and respect me on the mat a lot more. I think it went well and I think I’m ready for the next step.”
On the mat, Ruschell feels he can provide advice on various facets.
“I was always really good on top and also with counter-offense such as when a guy was on my legs,” he explained. “I also have a lot of offense on my feet so I’m well-rounded in all areas. I think that’s what most coaches at this level need to be.”
Davis also feels that from a technique standpoint, and the fact that he still actively competes, adding Ruschell to the staff is a good fit.
“I think he’s a great technician,” Davis said. “He’s a student of the sport because he takes the time to study film and is always spending time in the room trying to learn new techniques and figure out different ways to make himself and others better. He can work with the athletes from a work-ethic point of view from what he’s doing now as far as training, but from a technical component, too. Along with his background, his dad was a coach, so he understands how to get his message across to the athletes.”
With Davis’ permission, Ruschell will still be able to compete in national and international events. It’s a move that Ruschell, who recently took fourth place at 66 kg at the 2011 U.S. Team Trials, feels will benefit him and the current UW wrestlers.
“They can see the right way to do things, like if I’m cutting weight right then they can see how they should be doing it,” he said. “They can take from what the coach is doing and apply it to themselves. I think that helps.”
Coaching has been a part of Ruschell throughout his life. His dad is a coach and his foray into coaching began as early as middle school, helping coaching his younger brother, who was in elementary school.
“My dad really helped me in being able to get across to the kids,” Ruschell said. “He wasn’t the best technician, but he knew how to run a practice and drill technique into kids’ heads. He could be a coach and still have a great relationship with the kids. I learned that from my dad and I thank him for it.”
In describing his own coaching style, Ruschell doesn’t view himself as being overly aggressive. He coaches himself the way he wanted to be coached as an athlete.
“I’m not a big yeller,” he said. “I think I know how to calm a guy down if he’s upset, and I know how to get my message across to him in a calm manner.
“These kids are men now. They come from high school and become men when they’re here. They deserve respect, and the way you talk to them, they need to know that you respect them as much as they respect you.”
While this will be just his first year as a full-time assistant coach, Ruschell feels he’s on the way to a career in the profession.
“I’ve always wanted to be a coach,” he said. “I’m happy being a coach. I love wrestling and that’s what I want to do.”