Hage hired as new LCHS wrestling coach
With Brian Matthews stepping down as head coach after another extraordinary season for the LCHS wrestling team, the Indians will have a new head coach when the 2019-2020 season begins.
After a season filled with two State Champions and a couple State placers, Matthews decided that it was time to hang up his whistle to be able to spend more time with his family.
“It was a very tough decision but when I put the team and my family first, it made my decision easier,” said Matthews. “Moving into administration has been a great experience for me and the more I learn the more responsibilities I have. I felt like I could not give the wrestling team the time and dedication it takes to compete at the state level every year. I also have a son moving into sixth grade and I want to spend more time with him in middle school. One of my goals was to leave Lumpkin Wrestling in good shape. With the help of many hard working wrestlers, great coaches and support from administration over the years, I think Lumpkin Wrestling is in great shape for the future.”
According to a recent press release, Sean Hage will take the spot vacated by Matthews and serve as the head wrestling coach and physical education teacher for Lumpkin County.
Hage earned a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development at West Virginia University. He later earned a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education at West Virginia University and an Educational Specialist in Educational Technology from Northwestern State University.
Hage currently serves as a physical education teacher and head wrestling coach at Newnan High School in Coweta County. During his five years in this role, his teams have been increasingly competitive in the state tournament each year. Prior to serving at Newnan High School, he served as a teacher and head coach at North Cobb High School in Cobb County. In addition, Coach Hage served as an elementary classroom teacher in Cobb County at Brumby Elementary School and at a private school, The Weslyan School, for a combined five years while serving as an assistant wrestling coach.
As a competitor, Hage had an incredible career. After winning two national titles at the Cadet level in 1992, Hage became the first wrestler ever to win six Junior National titles, standing on top of the podium in Freestyle and Greco. He then won a Cadet World bronze medal in 1991, a Cadet World bronze again in 1992, and a Junior World championship in 1994, before circling back to win his final two Junior National titles the next summer. He was also a four-time high school state champion in Georgia and a high school All-American. Hage went on to West Virginia University where he was a two-time NCAA qualifier as a heavyweight. He finished his career as an Olympic Training Athlete in Colorado Springs, Colorado until injuries ended his competitive career.
Hage has been married to his wife Maria for 6 years and they have a daughter Brenna who is 5, a daughter Briar who is 3, and a son Brawley who is 1.
Matthews said that his first impression of Hage was good and believes that the wrestling program at LCHS will be in good hands when Hage takes over the reins.
“I did not know Coach Hage until we started looking for someone to take my position,” Matthews said. “I had a chance to meet him during an interview and my first impression was a good one. Obviously, he has the credentials as a wrestler and wrestling coach. His mindset is focused on wrestling year around. He can coach all styles of wrestling folkstyle, freestyle and greco. He seemed to be a humble man with a clear vision of what it takes to offer our kids a top-notch wrestling program.”
Lumpkin County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rob Brown agreed that Hage appears to be the right man to take over the job and keep LCHS wrestling’s legacy of excellence alive and well.
“I believe we have found the perfect fit to take our already outstanding Lumpkin County wrestling program to the next level and build on the tremendous success the program had under Coach Brian Matthews,” stated Brown in the press release. “Coach Hage understands what it takes to compete at the highest levels and we think he will help our young athletes find new levels of success. With two returning state champions, another returning state placer and several returning starters, Coach Hage has an incredible group of athletes to begin his tenure at LCHS. Coach Hage’s references raved about his humility and professionalism, which were characteristics we loved in Coach Matthews and wanted to find in our new coach.”
For Matthews, who coached the LCMS wrestling team for two seasons and the LCHS wrestling team for 11 seasons, the move away from the sport will never erase the memories he had as both a LCHS wrestler and the program’s head coach.
“Being a part of Lumpkin wrestling as a wrestler, coach and parent will always be high on my list as some of the greatest moments of my life,” Matthews said. “I wanted to help continue the winning tradition of Lumpkin wrestling that was established way before I came along. I have literally lived blood, sweat and tears with our wrestlers over the years. Those experiences I will never forget as a coach. My passion for coaching did not come from the actual sport, it came from the relationships I built with kids. Expecting to win is an attitude that is earned and not given. Coaches have come up to me and asked how do you get your wrestlers to wrestle so hard and not give up. My answer was they expect to win so they wrestle that way. Believe.”
Though losing an outstanding coach in Matthews, the LCHS wrestling program appears to have another high-caliber coach ready to fill his shoes and continue the legacy of excellence the program has enjoyed for over 20 years.
“I have known and admired Sean’s father and National Hall of Fame Coach, Brian Hage, for many years,” Brown said. “I had not met Coach Sean Hage until this year at the state tournament, though I have observed him coaching from afar for a few years. I really liked his demeanor on the mat and the way his athletes responded to his coaching. I could not be more excited to have Coach Hage coming to lead our program.”