Simon Miller is a smiling second-grader at Weller Elementary School. Alex Hutson, a junior at Central High School, stands next to him, his arms crossed.
They’re years, grades and inches apart, but they both look at home in Brian Pyck’s wrestling gym at Central High School.
“I am active in the Central Midtown community and encourage my students and wrestlers to give back,” he says. “I’ve got my wrestlers doing volunteering at Weller. They helped run activities at a special event at Weller. That’s how we meet kids like Simon.”
As a wrestling coach and math teacher at Central, Pyck spends his time investing in students. He spends weekends in the off season and early morning practices, day in and out, with his students. He works individually with each student, building trust through active, positive communication, serving as a positive role model as well as a coach.
But each day, the lesson is the same: discipline is the foundation for success, he says.
“Wrestling teaches my wrestlers discipline,” he says. “They have to be disciplined to work on home and study outside of our practice schedule and at the same time watch their diet to be at a certain weight class. They also learn about self-accountability and respect in winning, especially when they lose.”
And winning is something that Pyck knows well. This year, his team won the All-City Wrestling Meet, and in 11 years, he’s helped rebuild the wrestling program at Central. In 2016, he started his own nonprofit, the Bulldogs Wrestling Club. Within the club, central Springfield elementary, middle and high school students learn healthy habits and positive behaviors from kids their own age, while being celebrated for positive behaviors by their role models.
And this year, he’s been nominated for the Advocate in the Trenches award from Community Partnership of the Ozarks for his outstanding work in investing in Springfield students.
“I really want to make a difference, and I think that wrestling is my vehicle for it,” he says. “I could have been a soccer coach or something else and do what I’m doing, but I’m passionate about this sport. I’m passionate about these kids, who I get involved with when they start at 5 or 6, and I’m with them even to college. I have a student wrestling in college right now. And their success, on and off the mat, is my legacy.”