PREACHING - AND PRACTICING - INTEGRITY, DEDICATION, COMMITMENT
With dedication to improving the ancillary aspects of a sport, winning will come as a natural byproduct.
It’s a common sentiment shared by coaches — success is the end result of doing all the little things right. But few coaches practice what they preach and apply that lesson as broadly as Woodburn High School teacher and head wrestling coach Dusty Price.
“I’ve worked with a lot of coaches before under different programs, and I can tell you he’s if not the top, one of the top that I’ve ever worked with,” assistant head coach Larry Owings said. “He always has the best interest of the kids at the forefront. Every decision he makes is in the best interest of the kids, whether it be for the wrestling part of it, or if it’s for their personal life as well.”
Owings joined the Woodburn wrestling program shortly after Price took over nine years ago. A veteran coach and titan in the wrestling world, Owings was looking to lend his experience to a program following his retirement from teaching in 2003. What he found in Woodburn floored him.
“They practically shook my arm off before I even got in the door,” Owings said. “Every one of those wrestlers shakes your hand either coming in or after practice, thanking you for coming and trying to make them the best wrestlers.
“That attitude among the team is something I’ve never experienced anywhere else. I don’t know if it’s the Dusty Price influence, but whatever it is, it’s unbelievable. It’s just joyful being around those kids.”
That attitude is an extension of Price as a coach and teacher. Former wrestler Rafael Vasquez said Price is someone who expects a lot out of his students and athletes, treats his charges in a professional and respectful way, and expects them to do likewise.
“I feel that a lot of being under Dusty Price is that you’re following certain principles — working hard, determination in what you’re doing,” Vasquez said. “… Whether it’s in the classroom or the mat room, there’s always some type of discipline being shown.”
Woodburn senior Kaden Christiansen has known Price since middle school and was a student of his during his sophomore year, taking global studies and Spanish classes, along with being a four-year member of the wrestling team.
“Price is very unique. He’s a very standout person,” Christiansen said. “All the things he teaches his wrestlers are the same things he teaches his students in the classroom. You can tell he really cares about all of us individuals. He tries to make the best out of ourselves and help us learn different traits like discipline, hard work, integrity and learning to be self-reliant.”
Like many students learning remotely, Christiansen has struggled with the adjustment and saw his motivation flagging this year. Price paid him a visit to check in and make sure he was doing well, something Christiansen said Price has done with other current and former students.
“He’s always there — even if the students don’t reach out to him, he’s always trying to reach out to students and make sure he’s doing his best job to make sure we’re all doing well,” Christiansen says.
At the beginning of the semester, Price organized members of the wrestling team to help clean up the property of a family who lost their home in the Labor Day wildfires. On occasion, he will lead his classroom out to the school campus to pick up garbage or will charge them with picking up litter between classes.
“For me, personally, as a 22-year old, growing up now and figuring out life, what I want to do next, I reflect back and think ‘What is Dusty doing?’” Vasquez said. “Not that I want to compare myself, but am I going in the right direction?
“He’s the example that you would try to follow. Dusty is definitely what he preaches and practices, and he expects the same out of you in the classroom, the wrestling room, the home.”