Doug McClain understands the power of a college education.
“At Dunbar, I had eight kids go to college to wrestle,” said McClain. “I just saw how their life completely changed. Being out of the city. Being on another campus. Some of them are accountants now. They have families and it was because of wrestling and the opportunity to go to college. I wrestled in college. My assistants wrestled in college. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of kids with really good talent that never went to college, and I felt like it was because they didn’t understand the process.”
After a successful run as Dunbar High’s wrestling coach, McClain is now leading St. Frances’ new program. Sunday, McClain held the “Get Noticed College Prospect Combine,” at the East Baltimore private school.
The event featured a techinque session with some of the college coaches in attendance, followed by drills and live wrestling. Student-athletes and parents who came as far from Pennsylvania and Virginia, enjoyed a question-and-answer session with college coaches from Messiah University in Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins and McDaniel College.
“It was great for a first time event,” Messiah coach Brian Brunk said. “I know that the numbers were solid, and the talent was really good. I think that coach (McClain) put a lot of time and effort into the structure of it...I really think it helped some high school kids know what the next steps in the process are. No matter if they’re looking at my school or some other school.”
“I think it’s very important because it lets me know about some of the colleges I could possibly go to,” said St. Frances’ Noah Shird, who was a region runner-up as a freshman at Parkville last winter. “It gives me information about the schools. It was just a good experience.”
After spending the previous 10 seasons at Dunbar, McClain moved over to St. Frances, where he will serve as admissions coordinator and teach History.
The Panthers will compete in the MIAA B Conference this coming season.
McClain, who coached three-time state champion Jorden Pryor while at Dunbar, knew St. Frances wanted to start wrestling.
“It came up in a conversation about four years ago,” added McClain. “They were interested in starting a wrestling program. The athletic director (Nick Myles) is a graduate from Dunbar. It just wasn’t the right time then.”
McClain, a Catonsville High graduate, is excited to build upon his already successful coaching career that saw him win 13 City Dual Meet and Tournament championships. He piloted the Poets to seven region dual meet finals, where they captured two titles.
Both of their trips to the state dual meet championships saw them reach the finals, placing second both times. Dunbar was the first city school to reach a dual meet state championship match. In addition, McClain guided six state finalists and two NHSCA All-Americans.
McClain is excited about his new chapter at St. Frances, and growing the combine.
“...I wanted to give people an opportunity to meet some coaches. Get evaluated by coaches, get an opportunity to get all their questions answered. Also, just give some kids the opportunity to get in front of some coaches and get assessed. Division I (teams) can’t attend events like this until after the season, so Division IIIs were able to come in and provide a full education, if you will, on just that process,” said McClain. “The kids really got up for it.”