The Frisco High School wrestling team doesn’t have as much room for practice this season, but Coach Scott Pope won’t complain about that. That’s because while the wrestling room has stayed the same size, the FHS wrestling team has grown considerably.
That’s thanks to an influx of football players who have joined the wrestling team and turned the Raccoons into one of the top teams in Frisco ISD. More than two dozen football players, from all grade levels, gave wrestling a try this season.
“The coaches wanted us to do it, and I was like, ‘why not?’” said Nicolas Bonilla, a sophomore who played multiple positions in football and now wrestles in the 152-pound class. “It was something to do, and I ended up doing well and I really like it.”
In a typical year, Pope said, about 10 football players will try wrestling and about five will stick with the sport. But this year, 27 football players joined wrestling and most have stayed with the program. Five have cracked the starting lineup for Frisco, which has a 10-2 record in dual matches.
Pope credits much of the participation surge to his new assistant coach, Jonathon Reid, who was formerly the head wrestling coach at Rudder High School in Bryan. Reid joined Frisco High this school year, and after coaching the football team’s defensive line in the fall, he convinced a bunch of football players to try wrestling.
“His passion has been the driving force in getting all those kids out,” Pope said.
And once the athletes try it?
“They realize it’s what they’ve been doing since they were a little kid, roughhousing in the living room,” Pope said. “Now we’re going to kind of teach them how it’s supposed to work.”
Frisco ISD has produced elite wrestlers and teams for many years. In the past five seasons, Centennial has won two Texas State Duals titles and two University Interscholastic League (UIL) team titles, Liberty has won a State Duals crown, and District wrestlers have claimed 14 UIL individual championships.
Now Frisco High is adding to the FISD wrestling tradition. The Raccoons beat Liberty High School 42-37 in a dual match and lost on a criteria tiebreaker against Centennial High School after the squads finished in in a 39-39 tie.
Frisco ISD coaches encourage their student-athletes to play multiple sports, and the District’s small-school model allows more of them to diversify.
“It’s an opportunity for these guys, and they need that,” Reid said. “A lot of them didn’t know about it.”
Doni Haxhiu, a senior now in his third year of wrestling, is happy so many of his fellow football players have joined. They now get to experience the things he enjoys about wrestling.
“It’s really a test of how mentally tough you are, and the gratification you get from it is pretty instantaneous,” Haxhiu said. “It teaches you a lot of life lessons, like integrity and how to work hard.”