The End of an Era

Head Wrestling Coach Bryan Hazard Retires
Photo by Ram Snaps
Photo by Ram Snaps

After 28 years as the head wrestling coach, Bryan Hazard announced this will be his last year at Robinson. “This school has been my identity; this program has been my identity, and that’s not going to change,” said Hazard during his announcement. In the history of Robinson wrestling, there have only been three head coaches, John Epperly (1971-1991), Bill Hildbold (1991-1996), and Hazard (1997-2024). 

John Epperly (right) head wrestling coach from 1971-1991, Bill Hildbold (center) head wrestling coach from 1991-1996, and Bryan Hazard (left) head wrestling coach from 1997-2024.

Growing up, Hazard participated in youth wrestling in the Rams Club, and continued wrestling through high school and college. Hazard graduated from Robinson in 1991 and attended George Mason University for wrestling. “I had unbelievable mentors growing up… my eyes were opened to what it took to be a good coach,” said Hazard. He attributes his desire to coach wrestling to his coaches growing up, two of whom are now in the Wrestling Hall of Fame.

After graduating from college, Hazard was hired as Robinson’s head wrestling coach in 1997. “I was 22 when I got the job, just out of college, I’d never coached [high school],” said Hazard. “So coach Fisher and I didn’t really know what we were doing, but we made it work. We had some good teams, but that first state championship in 2011 was pretty special.”

In his 28 years of coaching, Hazard led the wrestling team to state titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023, accounting for seven of the ten total championships in Robinson’s history. “The last two state titles we had, waiting in the last couple matches winning by [about] a point, but of boys and girls who have come through and done awesome things,” said Hazard. 

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Through his time coaching, in addition to state titles, the team has been extremely successful. During the first ten years of Hazard’s time as head coach, the team won a total of three district and no region championships. Those numbers have since risen, with eight district and eight region championships since 2014. Other statistics that have also demonstrated this growth in team and individual performances can be seen in the dual team wins. In the early years of Hazard’s coaching career, the team won an average of 70 percent of dual meets, while the average in recent years has risen to 92 percent. 

Photo Courtesy of Drew Foster
First state championship won during Hazard’s time as head wrestling coach. Following this 2011 victory, Robinson won states again in 2013 and 2014.

With this rise in performance, Robinson has built its program, with more and more athletes moving on to future wrestling and athletic pursuits. “We’ve had some pretty phenomenal teams; [in] 2014 of the 14 starters, eight of them went on to wrestle at the division one level and we were nationally ranked that year,” said Hazard. “I mean there’s so many teams and kids and we’ve had years where, of our however many seniors, more than three quarters of them went on to get ROTC scholarships.”

While the wrestling team is well remembered for their titles and other accomplishments, both Hazard and assistant coach Drew Foster remember smaller positive moments in each season. “Obviously it’s easy to remember state championships or region championships… but sometimes it’s the smaller things, in the bus on the road trips,” said Foster, who has been coaching with Hazard for the p ast 21 years. “The conversations, the hugs, the laughs, the private stories… those little things, the wrestling part, the x’s and o’s are really cool, but it’s the relationship part that’s really the best part,” said Hazard. 

Positivity and encouragement are part of Hazard’s trademark coaching style. “Hazard has done an excellent job cultivating the sport of wrestling and working with all different athletes depending on where their individual road takes them,” said Foster. “Hazard is very positive with athletes, being positive at practice in a sport where sometimes it can get kind of dreary and long.” 

Current and former athletes who were coached by Hazard also comment on his impact on wrestlers in the program. “He didn’t treat us as his athletes, he treated us more as equals, which I really liked,” said senior Caden Smith. “Even though I’m going off to college, I’ll miss him as a coach a lot.” Thomas Mukai wrestled at Brown University for four years after graduating from Robinson in 2019. “He was probably one of the best coaches Robinson will ever have,” said Mukai. “He made sure with all his wrestlers he brought the best out of them.”

Robinson is in the process of selecting a new head coach now. “We’re goin

g to move as quickly as we can because we know that in this sport and many other sports, there’s a lot of off season [training],” said Principal Tracey Phillips during Hazard’s retirement announcement. “We want to make sure that we keep things going to program so we continue to be one of the top performing programs in the state.”

A small portion of newspaper articles written about Robinson wrestling since Hazard’s start as head coach. Stories feature major team wins as well as profiles on individual stand-out athletes.


Hazard decided this was the right year to step down while leaving the team well prepared for successful years to come. “[The assistant coaches] have done an amazing job of developing athletes and you don’t ever want to leave the cupboard empty and our cupboard is pretty full right now so it’s a good time,” said Hazard. “We are going to continue to be a high performing program.” 

“It’s really an irreplaceable asset,” said Foster. “Hazard is a unique person with a passion for wrestling and has done a great job with student athletes here.” Even with the team on track for favorable future seasons, Hazard will be missed. “It’s going to be nearly impossible to replace Coach Hazard… he left big shoes to fill,” said Phillips during the announcement. Staff and athletes alike will miss Hazard here at Robinson. “He’s a true wrestling legend so he will be dearly missed for Robinson’s wrestling program,” said Mukai. 

Hazard hopes that the next head coach of the wrestling team will continue to foster a positive environment. “I feel like the program is better than when we found it,” said Hazard. “But I think it’s continuously getting better so hopefully the next coach, whoever that may be, will be able to cultivate that and make sure that it stays in a real positive way.”

  • 322 Career Team-Dual Victories 
  • 13 District Championships 
  • 10 Region Championships
  • 7 State Championships 
  • 122 District Champions
  • 80 Region Champions 
  • 37 State Champions