The Pryor Times


May 17, 2014

Like predecessor, Curtis aiming high at Locust Grove

LOCUST GROVE, OK — Locust Grove hired a new head wrestling coach for the first time in almost a quarter of a century Monday.

The school board didn't have to look very far to find their man.

Former Pirate wrestler and Pryor assistant coach Donnie Curtis was approved to take the head job at his alma mater, replacing outgoing Johnny Cook, who was dismissed by the school April 15.

Curtis won a pair of state titles under Cook's tutelage, and said he won't change much when it comes to Locust Grove wrestling traditions.

"I want to keep Johnny's legacy going like it was," Curtis said. "It's going to be hard-nosed wrestling. I don't intend on changing too many things that Johnny had going. He was an old-school, tough, brick-nose type of wrestler and so am I. That's what I'm going to implement in the kids."

Curtis spent a season coaching at Pryor under head coach Roger White before taking the suddenly-vacant position at Locust Grove. White called it "a great opportunity" for Curtis.

"Wrestling is a little different now than it was when I was in high school," Curtis said. "Being back now and helping coaching is going to help me be a better coach this year than I could have been a couple years ago."

Curtis has no qualms about what he intends to accomplish right off the bat as the Pirates new head man.

"I'm looking for a state championship like every other coach," he said. "We're not knocking on the door for the state championship this year, we're going to try to kick the door in. We're going after it. We're going to be in that race this year. We're going to try to go undefeated in duals and go to state and show people Locust Grove is there to win it."

Curtis will reenter the community at a turning point as one of the four coaches the school district will hire as replacements.

"I have the utmost respect for all those coaches, especially Johnny," Curtis said. "Every coach has their quirks and stuff, but Johnny was always a good coach to me. He pushed me. He was hard on me when he needed to be hard on me, he'd pat me on the back when I needed a pat on the back. He pushed me to that next level to be a great wrestler. Johnny was always the coach that he needed to be at the time he needed to be it."

Curtis said he is thankful for the opportunity to come back and coach in his home town.

"I just hope I can give back to the community the way they did when I was here. I hope the transition is easy because I am from Locust, I'm a Locust guy. I want to be there for the town, be there for the kids that are coming up."

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