After a 30-year career as a wrestling coach in the Cuba City School District and 22 years as the head wrestling coach for the Cuba City-Southwestern schools, Bob Hahn is setting his sights on viewing the competition from a different seat, the bleachers. At the age of 60, Hahn is retiring after a long and successful coaching career.
Hahn has deep roots with Cuba City, graduating in 1969 and wrestling all four years, while playing football and running in cross country and track. Bob and his wife of 39 years, Linda, raised three children who all attended Cuba City High School including sons, Chad and Justin, and daughter, Kristin. Both Chad and Justin wrestled for Hahn while daughter Kristen cheered from the sidelines. Hahn said although both Chad and Justin were successful at wrestling, other sports were their favorites. "Chad was a conference champion hurdler and Justin's passion is baseball," Hahn said. "He pitched in high school and then for UW-Platteville in college. Chad is now an assistant wrestling coach at Dodgeville and Justin is the head baseball coach at Southwestern."
In 1982, Hahn started the youth wrestling program with Bob Randecker and Ron Donar hauling kids in their Suburbans around the state to Saturday tournaments. A year later, the junior high program was started where Hahn became the coach and later the assistant coach under Terry Terrill and after Terrill, Rod Parsons. Hahn then took over the head coaching job for Parsons and remained in that capacity until the conclusion of the 2012 wrestling season when he announced his retirement last month.
During Hahn's career at Cuba City he reflected back on the opportunities to coach some very fine young men. "Coaching is very rewarding," Hahn said. "The look of accomplishment on a student's face whether it's winning a state title or a struggling J.V. wrestler who finally gets that first win and seeing their pride is what it's all about. What is also special is seeing the pride and emotions of the athletes' parents."
With great reward comes some disadvantages which Hahn accredited to not being in direct contact with the students on a daily basis. "I felt not being a teacher in the district and having daily contact with the students hurt us as far as numbers went," Hahn said. "Although we had some outstanding teams during my 22 years, we often struggled to fill a full lineup, making dual meet victories difficult. We would focus on individual accomplishments which led to our success at having state qualifiers every year."
In the 22 years Hahn was at the helm for the co-op team, the wrestling program had 63 state qualifiers including 12 state champions and seven state runners up.
Cuba City athletic director, Jeff Pustina said Hahn has been selfless and dedicated. "He is the right type of person you want leading a program," Pustina said. "He has proven to be an effective leader, but more importantly has always been a class act.."
Over the years, Hahn has had many great wrestlers but one stands out the greatest when wins and losses are concerned is undefeated and four-time state champion Jarod Donar.
"Donar tops the list in that capacity," Hahn said. "If you mean great kids then there were so many. Some may not have not even had a winning record but they did their best and that makes them great."
Hahn will indeed miss the interaction with the students and their families. "I have been fortunate to have met so many fine families from both Cuba City and Southwestern," Hahn said. "I have formed many friendships that will last a lifetime through coaching."
Hahn said he felt the time to turn the program over was at hand. "Maybe someone with fresh ideas to build on what we have now," Hahn said. "The school has not hired a successor yet. Don Donar, my long time assistant, plans on staying on to provide continuity to the program and work with whoever is eventually hired."
For now, Hahn will fill his free time at home with his Corvette restoration shop. "I won't be closing my shop at noon like I did during wrestling season," Hahn said. "On weekends I still plan on following the wrestling team, I will just be in a different seat."