Last coach standing

Staying as the only remaining head coach from when the school first opened, the head wrestling coach describes his experiences and why he has stayed.

Head coach Tim Serbousek talks with senior wrestler Edward Thomas during a dual on Jan. 15 at BVNW. As the head coach for 27
years, Serbousek holds a 426-182-1 record as head coach. Former athletic director Steve Harms said that Serbousek knows what it
takes to be a successful head coach and has the correct priorities for his team.

Lauren Kline

Head coach Tim Serbousek talks with senior wrestler Edward Thomas during a dual on Jan. 15 at BVNW. As the head coach for 27 years, Serbousek holds a 426-182-1 record as head coach. Former athletic director Steve Harms said that Serbousek knows what it takes to be a successful head coach and has the correct priorities for his team.

By Ben Hobbs, BLUE VALLEY NORTHWEST HIGH SCHOOL

 Head wrestling coach Tim Serbousek remains as the only coach left from 1993, when the school opened. Starting his coaching career in Iowa with a youth league, Serbousek moved on to utilize his coaching talents at Northwest Missouri State University before moving to Blue Valley High School in 1985. After coaching at Blue Valley High for one year, he transitioned on to Blue Valley North when it opened in 1986. BVNW, to him, however, offered so much more than he thought he would have had at BVN. 

Serbousek said that mentality and mindset of the early BVNW coaches all seemed to fall in line with his own. Full of determination and placing importance on relationships with students, Serbousek felt the reflection of these values made Northwest a great fit for him.

“We worked together extremely well and had the same visions, trying to lead student athletes, that was the most important thing,” Serbousek said. 

As the first football coach of BVNW and former athletic director, Steve Harms said that when the school first opened he and Serbousek along with the other coaches wanted to be established as a prominent, athletic school like how Blue Valley High was considered at the time of the school’s opening.

“We all came together as a group wanting to establish Blue Valley Northwest as a premier athletic school,” Harms said. “We wanted to do things the right away, we all wanted to support each other in one another’s activities and we want to work hard in our own activities.”

Over the last 27 years, however, Serbousek said he’s seen many changes in the coaching staffs at BVNW, as every sport beside wrestling has replaced head coaches. Over time, Serbousek said a change in mindset took place, and has affected the overall attitude toward sports at Northwest.

“The first group we had, we were definitely purple and black. That’s the only thing we were concerned with throughout the entire school,” Serbousek said. The pride in their school united the early coaches,  “We’ve had a lot of changes here with coaching staffs lately and it’s hard to maintain that and keep an entire coaching staff like that.”

Although he’s spent so much time with the sport, initially Serbousek didn’t participate in wrestling until his seventh grade year.

“I actually went out for basketball. Hated every second of it. I hated every second of it because I couldn’t decide things on my own,” Serbousek said.

Serbousek was drawn to wrestling after his twin brother participated in it, while he did not. He saw wrestling as an offer of freedom, and enjoyed the fact that he could create his own path and wasn’t bound to set plays. Describing winning as an addiction, Serbousek said getting his hand raised, at the end of a match, was one of the reasons he stuck with wrestling for so many years. 

“I don’t like to lose at tiddly-winks. And that’s why it’s kept me going all these years just because I’m still competitive” Serbousek said. “I still want to win.”

Growing up in Iowa, where wrestling is culturally important and widely celebrated, Serbousek said it was a big part of his life early on. The state-wide love for the sport helped shape Serbousek’s own love for it, and made it part of his identity.

Although once surrounded by large crowds of fans, the transition from the tightly packed tournaments of Iowa to the sparsely populated Kansas meets came as a shock to Serbousek.

“I went to state with the Blue Valley team and we walked in and started the first round stuff and I just kind of looked around and go ‘this is it?’,” Serbousek said. “It still frustrates me how people view wrestling here compared to how they view it [in Iowa].”

Getting away from Kansas wrestling and experiencing something new, the BVNW wrestling team travels to Iowa every year to participate in a tournament hosted at Marion High School in Marion, Iowa. Senior captain and four-year wrestler Danny Robinson described the tournament as extremely different from the usual wrestling experience.

“It was like a basketball game there. Like, the gym was full. The craziest thing was that cheerleaders were all kneeling on the side slamming on the mat, doing chants and stuff. It was so cool.”

Affectionately dubbed “Serbo” by his team and peers, Serbousek said his favorite part of wrestling has been developing relationships with his team. 

“I’ve kept in contact with kids from the mid 80s when I started coaching, I still know where they’re at, and I still talk to them.” Serbousek said. “Probably the best way to explain this is I could start on the East Coast and go to the West Coast. I’ll never have to stay in a hotel. It’s true. I could stop and stay anywhere.”

Former BVNW Wrestler Peyton Potts talks about his relationship with Serbousek as that of a father and son. Potts has known Serbousek since he was a kid, as his dad coached with Serbousek in the early 2000s. Potts would come to practices and interact with Serbousek as a child, and they began to build a relationship. Despite his lack of interest in wrestling, Potts continued due to his relationship with Serbousek.

“I never wanted to wrestle, but I only did it because he was the coach, because I wanted to be with him, I wanted him to coach me,” Potts said, “If it was anybody else, I wouldn’t have done it.” 

Robinson described Serbousek’s coaching style as very intentional and personal. Robinson said his experience in coaching allows him to tailor his coaching to certain wrestlers. 

“He knows all the different types of people and how to get them to start wrestling,” Robinson said. “He’s really good at figuring out kids and knowing how to get them to work.”

“He’s very good at what he does,” Robinson said. “He’s good at connecting with the kids. He’s a very good coach.”

This story was originally published on The Express and Husky Headlines on March 5, 2020.