Oct. 13, 2006
The Virginia wrestling team opened practice Monday under the direction of new head coach Steve Garland. Garland was rated one of the top assistants in the country while at Cornell. He returns to begin a head coaching career at his alma mater where he was an all-american.
VirginiaSports.com caught up with Garland during his first week of official practice. Virginia opens the season on Nov. 11 when they host Delaware State, George Mason and Liberty for a quad meet at Memorial Gym.
VirginiaSports.com: Since returning to UVa, how has life as the head coach of your alma mater been?
Garland: It's been busy. It's been crazy, but it's been everything I thought it would be. It's been challenging with my family situation with my daughter being born so soon after me being hired - two days after I was hired to be exact. That added to the anxiety a little bit, but once things settled down. We started working together as a staff. Coach (Scott) Moore, coach (Pat) DeGain and I started really getting to know each other. Everything started clicking and everything is fine right now on all cylinders in terms of recruiting and practices. We had a great first day of practice. Preseason went great, so I've been very happy being back.
VirginiaSports.com: Has it been an easy transition from assistant to head coach?
Garland: There's been a lot of differences, which is expected. The head coach has to deal with a lot of different things. The head coach is ultimately the one who has to worry about everything. He's in charge of every little detail, which ultimately falls underneath my umbrella of responsibilities. That can be stressful. At Cornell, although I had my hands in just about everything as an assistant, you have that scapegoat. When things may not have been going good, it could be nice and easy to say when something bad happens call the head coach. Now, it's me. I'm the guy that has to worry about everything. Not to mention, every school has there own system, so you have to learn new protocols. I had to learn everything from new protocol procedures on compliance to new administration. It's been a big transition, but it's getting better as I go along.
VirginiaSports.com: What's been your biggest challenge thus far?
Garland: My biggest challenge thus far has been balancing travel with spending time with my family. I have my own family now. All those years when I going crazy at Cornell running around America recruiting and traveling to wrestling meets, I was either single or it was just my wife and I. Now, I have a little girl at home. I was in Kansas City recently and didn't see my baby for two days. So that's been a huge challenge for me - learning how to balance my family wife with my work life.
VirginiaSports.com: What are you looking forward to in this first season as head coach?
Garland: I'm really looking forward to watching the guys develop. Watching them develop technically and watching them develop a different type of mental toughness. I can't wait to watch them do great things and to see the expressions on their faces when they believe that they can. We're dealing with the same cast of characters. These are the same guys that Coach Moore and Coach DeGain brought in, but what's different about it is that we've brought a different view of training and running practices, which has changed everything.
VirginiaSports.com: Reaching out to the wrestling alumni is one of your main priorities. Talk about doing that.
Garland: Reaching out to our alumni is an absolute must. There's been a lot of guys that have been removed from this program for years. We have an incredible fan-base that hasn't been tapped into yet. We have tons of alumni that have thankfully jumped back on board. They have been incredibly supportive. Our reunion weekend a couple of weekends ago could have been probably the best reunion weekend we've had. We had 80-90 people come back. I have people still calling me about that weekend. We need to get people back in the stands. A huge priority for us is our promotions and marketing in just getting people to our matches. We have that base. Let's bring them back for our big matches.
VirginiaSports.com: How was the first day of practice?
Garland: I thought it was great. It was short. It was intense. The guys had a nice pep in their step. It was nice and fresh. We went over technique in the system that I want to go over. In all, it was a good first day.
VirginiaSports.com: As an alumnus of the UVa Wrestling program, what does it mean to you to take over the program as the head coach?
Garland: It means a lot. The big thing is I don't want to let anyone down. There's a lot of people, who believed in me when I was coming down here. There's a lot of people who vouched for me. I don't want to let anybody down. I want to show them how much I care about this program. I want show them how much I love this program. I am an alum, and I loved it when I was here. I want to help give this program the wins that it deserves.
VirginiaSports.com: What will UVa fans see from Virginia wrestling in 2006-07?
Garland: At the very least, they are going to see some great effort. Coach Moore was known for how hard he wrestled. Coach DeGain and Coach (Josh) Walker are known for their tenacity. I was known for being a mean sun-of-a-gun on the mat. I think that stuff is going to permeate. I know our guys - win or lose - are going to give everything they got, which is all that you can ask from them.
VirginiaSports.com: Best Memory as a UVa Wrestler.
Garland: My best memory is winning the quarterfinal match at the NCAA Tournament when I beat the No. 1 seed in the country
VirginiaSports.com: Favorite sport other than wrestling.
Garland: Baseball. I'm a (New York) Yankees fan. "That's not a sport. That's a way of life."
VirginiaSports.com: If you hadn't wrestled in college, what would you been doing now?
Garland: I'd probably be a salesman somewhere. I'd probably be selling widgets to some guy I don't like, but I'd be making a lot of money doing it.
VirginiaSports.com: If I could coach another sport at UVa, it would be ....
Garland: Men's Swimming, because I think swimmers are hard-workers and great people.
VirginiaSports.com: To coach at the University of Virginia ...
Garland: You have to be able to recruit the right type of student-athlete.