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Benjamin Russell’s Michael Ransaw named Alabama’s top coach by NWCA
Posted On:
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Coach Ransaw Wins National Award
Coach Ransaw Wins National Award

When Michael Ransaw was hired as Benjamin Russell’s wrestling coach last year, it seemed like it might be an interim move. Although Ransaw has always been dedicated to the Wildcat wrestling program, his full-time work schedule in Auburn made it tricky for him to be a high school head coach.

Fast-forward a year, and BRHS is hoping Ransaw won’t go anywhere any time soon. Not only did Ransaw guide the Wildcats to a second-place finish in the state and qualifying 13 individuals for the state tournament, Thursday he was named the Coach of the Year for Alabama by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.

“Oh my gosh, that is definitely a pleasure,” Ransaw said when he heard the news of his award. “I don’t have words. This really caught me off guard. It’s a great honor for something that you love doing and you’ve done for so long; it shows the hard work isn’t going unnoticed.”

Ransaw is a graduate of Benjamin Russell and donned a Wildcat singlet himself, and although this was his first year as the varsity head coach, he’s spent many years around the program. He was the middle school coach for many years, and he’s been a volunteer assistant on and off at the varsity level. He also was a head coach at Capital Heights and Robert E. Lee in Montgomery.

“It’s kinda funny because my first year at (Lee), we finished second in the state too,” Ransaw said with a laugh.

Benjamin Russell athletic director Pam Robinson said, “He’s always been involved in our program. He’s really good at what he does. When you’re not a teacher at the school, there’s a logistical issue, but about midway through, we realized this was a really good fit, and we hope we can keep him.”

After developing an obvious bond with not just his wrestlers but their families as well, Ransaw said he’s here to stay.

Ransaw is one of those coaches who is very calm and collected, but it’s also easy to see the obvious passion he has for wrestling. He said his key to success has been getting to know the kids and knowing whether or not they needed a hard-nosed coach or someone who was more encouraging.

“Mainly I just take the time to get to know the kids,” he said. “You know there are some you can push and be hard-nosed with every single minute, and you know there are those athletes where you can push him this far but then you have to ease up and let him know I love him.”

One of the things that made the Wildcats so successful this year was that love. With the support of the wrestlers’ families and the community, Benjamin Russell’s team became a family itself this year.

“The very first meeting I had with my parents, I brought something back from the 80s and that was family,” Ransaw said. “I told them when we step on that mat, we’re one family. When we’re in the practice room, we’re one family. Brothers are going to fight, just like in a family. We’ll have our disagreements, but we’re not going to let anyone else talk about our brother. We can do it, but no one else can. They bought into that family.”

On the mat, there was only one thing Ransaw required each and every day: Effort. Every time he talks about his success, he attributes it to hard work.

“They bought into the program, and they gave 100 percent each match and each tournament,” Ransaw said. “The only thing I asked them to do was give 100 percent, and the winning would come. The main focus was getting better. At the beginning of the season, we didn’t mention winning state or winning sectional. I just asked them to get better every match.”

Ransaw’s passion and dedication clearly rubbed off on those he coached this year and in the past.

“Michael has just selflessly helped our wrestling program, and he has made such a huge impact,” Robinson said. “He’s getting kids out, getting the fire lit to love that sport and teaching them skills that they’ll need to progress further. Over the years, we’ve had a tough time getting the right fit for the wrestling program, and he’s just stepped up because he cares. He has a passion for wrestling and for kids and helping them in that.”

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