Elma native Kevin Pine will not only be returning home to the Harbor to coach the Grays Harbor College Women’s wrestling team, he’ll be able to work along side his brother for the first time in over 10 years.
Kevin Pine was named head coach in early May and will work with his brother Phillip, who will continue to head the Chokers men’s wrestling program.
Kevin and Phillip Pine were both standout wrestlers at Elma and won state titles their senior years with Phil grabbing gold in 1984 and Kevin doing the same in 1986.
His success on the mat didn’t stop there as Kevin was also the Canadian National Greco Roman Champion in 1988.
Kevin got his first head coaching gig in 1995 when he coached Central Washington and guided 20 All-American wrestlers to the NAIA and NCAA II national championships.
Pine then returned to Elma as a coach from 2002 to 2006 when he hosted the first girls dual in the state during his tenure.
Kevin, Phil and the rest of the Pine brothers all grew up around the wrestling mat and had their own success dating back to high School.
The Pine brothers, who are still active as coaches, owe a lot of their start in wrestling to former Elma wrestling coach Rich Graham. Graham came to Elma in the early 1970s looking to expand the youth program in the area and recruited oldest brother Mike Pine.
“He wanted to build the youth program and he thought the best way to do that was to recruit influential parents. My dad was on the school board and he had four boys so Rich talked to my dad about getting my oldest brother Mike into wrestling,” Phil said. “My dad figured that if we’re going to spend a weekend at a tournament then everybody’s going to do it.”
After spending the last 11 years in Las Vegas working with Palo Verde High School and various local youth programs, Kevin said the timing is right for him to move back to Grays Harbor.
“Initially, I was only going to be down here a short period of time and one thing leads to another and things change,” he said. “Now all my kids have graduated college and the opportunity presented itself, so now is as good a time as ever to make a change.”
Phil Pine has served as the head men’s wrestling coach at the college since the program returned in 2015.
Kevin said he is looking forward to working closely with his brother.
“That was one of the appealing factors. I wanted to come back home, work with my brother and be close to family. Those were the primary factors right there,” he said. “Even though we’re coaching to separate teams, we’ll still be working in close proximity.”
Phil mentioned that he would like Kevin to help out with the men’s team from time to time and noted that their coaching philosophies are fundamentally similar despite the differences in their own wrestling styles.
“His skill set was different. I was more of a banger, what we do as wrestlers are different, but fundamentally we have the same philosophy,” he said. “The things we focus on technique-wise are a little different, but in terms of the fundamentals we’re aligned.”
Like the other coaches that Grays Harbor College has hired since May, Kevin will have to overcome a late start in recruiting. The women’s wrestling team currently has eight wrestlers listed on the roster, all of whom are returning from last season.
Kevin’s recruiting search has included his adopted home state of Nevada and other areas around the nation, including Texas, Florida, Oregon, Idaho and Washington.
Kevin acknowledged he is in a tough position trying to fill out the roster in the early summer when most wrestlers sign their letters of intent in early spring, but remains optimistic he can get some high-quality wrestlers on campus with some smart recruiting and the help of his brother.
“I have a number of friends around the country who are state directors and coach women’s teams, so I’m just reaching out to them to see if they have any seniors who are looking for a place to go in the fall,” he said. “I’m kind of late in the game for recruiting right now because most kids have already signed their letter of intent. I’m a little behind the curve right now, but we have the potential for some good, high quality girls to come in next season.”