Tillman named 'Coach of the Year'
Kansas State head wrestling coach Beau Tillman has fulfilled one of three goals. The 1999 Pratt High School graduate and three-time state high-school wrestling champion was recently named the 2006-07 National Collegiate Wrestling Association "Coach of the Year."
Now, he will pursue the second goal, winning a NCWA and NCAA championship, and the third goal, obtaining university approval for his Wildcats to compete at the NCAA Division I level.
KSU currently competes at the club level. The NCWA, of which the Wildcats are a member, assists club programs at the college level to build and sustain programs.
Tillman's Wildcats were 12 spots from achieving goal No. 2 at the 2007 National Collegiate Wrestling Championships in Garland, Texas, March 8-10. KSU finished 13th in the team competition. The Wildcats' Steve Kern captured the 184-pound championship.
KSU faced 4-year colleges and universities, bible colleges, and junior college programs. Some of the 4-year universities included Ohio State, Louisiana State, the University of Georgia, and Texas Tech.
Tillman said he was one of five coaches - out of approximately 100 schools - nominated for "Coach of the Year" honors.
His team's success on the mat was one factor in his selection, but he believes there was another - the team's character and image and their support of other NCWA teams.
"We're a well-mannered team," said Tillman, who requires his team to wear shirts and ties to matches.
Tillman's wrestling foundation was laid in Pratt.
He is second all-time in wins in PHS history - behind Daniel Prater.
Tillman was 94-6 (.940 winning percentage) and won state titles in 1996, 1997, and 1999. In 1998, he placed second.
At PHS, he was coached by Bryan Pixler as a freshman and sophomore, and Kip Chambers and Daryl Lucas his junior and senior years.
In his 13 years as a member of the Pratt Kids Wrestling Club, he captured seven state championships.
Tillman spent two seasons at Labette Community College after graduating from PHS then transferred to KSU in 2001 where he was a two-time All-American at 133 pounds.
He wasn't only a KSU student-athlete, he added additional duties; he became the team's head coach.
A volunteer head coach the past six seasons, Tillman said he has never received any money to lead the KSU program.
The state of Kansas does not have a Division I wrestling program. He intends to change that.
"I would say the moment I stepped on campus (when he began to pursue NCAA Division I status) I just felt I was destined to start K-State wrestling up and start a DI team in Kansas, and that is what I'm doing," Tillman said.
"We have a big wall to break down, but we're chipping away, and we've opened a hole," he added.
His goal is also personal.
"Some people say wrestling is a dying sport, but wrestling is actually a growing and a living sport. It is not dying," said Tillman. "Dan Gable told me two years ago at the national tournament: 'Don't be satisfied with being a dominant club team. Chase your dreams and become a DI team.'
"One of my goals is to be at the Division I tournament with a Kansas team, K-State and purple, and watch one of my young men walk out on that blue national championship mat and to get my father tickets to watch Division I wrestling at K-State. That is very important and that is what keeps me going."
Tillman spends 15-20 hours in the KSU wrestling room Monday through Friday.
An average weekday is working with the area youth club and the Wildcats from 6-10 p.m. This does not include his administrative duties.
His head coaching duties are in additon to a full-time position.
During weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., he is a foreman with Allscape, an area construction company.
The Wildcats receive \$1,500 per year from the university according to Tillman. He helped co-develop a booster club to help raise money. Bill Kellar of Stanion Whole Electric Co. of Pratt has donated to the program. Another source of revenue is a \$40 annual fee paid by the wrestlers.
Tillman estimated he has spent several thousand dollars to support the program.
He is confident if his Wildcats were elevated to the Division I level, the program would be a revenue-producing sport and finish in the black annually.
"I am going to take baby steps - develop a team here for the club and win nationals, and start getting a little more attention and help prove that I can generate quality athletes at K-State, and maybe, they (KSU administration)_will be a little more interested in getting something going," said Tillman.
How long will he continue to pursue goals two and three at the NCAA level.
"I'm going to be here at least 10 years,"_said Tillman. "I'll set my mark at that. I think things are going to change. Things are on the rise here and I am really confident. I am going to stick around here and keep going up.
"I've committed myself to K-State wrestling and Division I for all those (Kansas) kids growing up."
By Brian Niblock of the Pratt Tribune Staff
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2007 3:20 PM CDT