After more than a decade of constructing Live Oak High’s highly successful wrestling program from the ground up, Chris Collier has decided to relinquish his duties as head coach.
Collier cited family concerns as the sole reason for prompting a change. He plans to remain as an assistant coach with the varsity football team and also serve as the head freshman football coach.
“(The) kids are just getting to that age and it’s just harder to put in the time,” Collier said. “Just needed to kind of step back and be a dad.”
Collier was directly responsible for starting Live Oak’s wrestling program in 2007 and has remained at the head since then, guiding the Eagles from an upstart program to one that has been considered a consistent contender in Division II.
But in the final month of the season last year, Collier brought on Chris Godso as an assistant and eventually selected him as his successor.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” Godso said. “I’m very thankful that Chris has entrusted the program to me. I hope I’ll be able to get us over the hurdle and build on top of a great foundation that he has already laid.”
Godso, a 2009 graduate of Redemptorist and a former Division III state champion, spent the past four years at Southern Lab, where like Collier, he started a wrestling program while also coaching football.
“(The) kids are just getting to that age and it’s just harder to put in the time. Just needed to kind of step back and be a dad." - Former Live Oak wrestling coach Chris Collier
When Godso left Southern Lab to join the staff at Live Oak, the intention was for him to succeed Collier. Godso had prior familiarity with the Live Oak program, as his son wrestles for the Live Oak Wrestling Club, a grass-roots club program.
“I’ve been around the program and the Live Oak Wrestling club for about 3-4 years now,” Godso said. “Just through the wrestling community, and me being a part of the Wrestling Club through my son, Christopher, it was kind of a natural progression of things.
“All the kids that are my high school kids, they all came up through the club program,” Godso said. “It was a nice easy transition just because I’ve known the kids for a few years. I’ve already been able to deal with them on a personal basis.”
Although the name in charge of the program will change, don’t expect to see anything different on the mat.
The time Godso spent on staff was crucial since Collier had crafted a successful program and it gave Godso time to learn his philosophy.
“It was a natural transition for everybody,” Godso said. “I definitely think Coach Collier has laid a great foundation. Every coach comes in with his own game plan and philosophy. So naturally I’m going to bring my ideas into the program but I’m going to integrate those with the great foundation that Collier has laid already.”
One of those beliefs Godso brings into the program is a refined focus on envisioning success and a re-dedicated work ethic.
“It’s really just about getting the kids to trust the process,” Godso said. “That’s been our team motto so far through this summer. We’re trying to get the kids to buy into the fact that they can do great things themselves.
“You have to see yourself doing something before it can ever really happen,” Godso said. “That was something I realized in high school, I had to see myself winning the state title, especially after I came up short in my junior year. I had to see myself winning that title, see myself standing on that podium.”