For 32 years, Tom Brack has served as an ambassador of wrestling for Stephens County. As a coach at Marlow, Comanche and Duncan, Brack’s teams have won state twice, finished runner-up 11 times and he has coached 26 state champions and four All-Americans.
In his tenure, he has also won 399 duals at both the high school and junior high level. Tonight, he can make it 400 when the Demons host Lawton Ike.
“When I started coaching, I didn’t think I would win 400 duals,” Brack said. “I never knew I would stay in coaching this long. You just take it one year at a time.
“It’s been fun, you just get up every day and keep going. I’m a little over the top. I’m just real competitive. I don’t like losing and the kids pick up on it.”
Kids have picked up on it well enough to make Brack one of the top coaches in the state. The transition to becoming a wrestling coach was natural for a Geary sixth-grade student who knew what he wanted to do with his life.
Growing up in a family of wrestlers that included five cousins who won state championships, it was preordained that Brack would become a wrestler himself.
Every year, Brack participated in grade school wrestling, setting a foundation for a high school career in which he finished as a state runner-up three times, breaking through for a state championship his senior year. Brack went on to wrestle at a junior college in Tonkawa and Central State before migrating to Duncan to take over the middle school program.
“I was pretty good at it and I knew that,” Brack said. “It was what I always wanted to do. When I graduated, Mike Redding hired me to coach the junior high. The only reason that I left was I knew Mike wasn’t ready to retire.”
Brack left Duncan to start a program at Marlow, setting the foundation for one of the top programs in the state. He spent three years at Marlow before making the decision to pursue a job opportunity outside of education.
“I sat out for two years working in the oil field,” Brack said. “I knew when I left Marlow that they would be state
champions in five years. They had Ray Miller in the sixth grade with other good wrestlers. It was a good opportunity and I thought I was tired of wrestling. But when state would roll around, I would get antsy.”
Fate then played a role in bringing Brack back into high school wrestling. Comanche’s wrestling coach left for the summer and never came back. For the Indian program, it was the best thing that ever happened. Burl White called Brack and the rest was history as he led Comanche to a state title in 1988 and a state dual title in 1993.
“When I got there I threw the schedule in the trash and scheduled the best schools that I could find,” Brack said. “To be the best, you have to wrestle the best.”
White would also play a part in Brack’s next move. With John Strickland looking to retire, White, who had become Duncan’s athletic director, once again turned to Brack.
“He called me up and enticed me to come to Duncan,” Brack said. “Coach Strickland was about to retire and I spent a year coaching the junior high before taking over the high school program.
“It was pretty hard to leave. I liked Comanche and I got along good with all of the people there. And we had some studs too.”
Brack continued his run of success at Duncan, leading the team to three straight state runner-up finishes as it battled to overcome an El Reno team that captured 11 straight state championships. During his time as head of the Demon program, Brack has turned in a 120-38 dual record.
Through the years, Brack has kept his competitive fire, urging his team to reach its potential. Something that he attributes to his personality.
“I’m a perfectionist,” Brack said. “Your never going to be perfect as a human being, but you still have to try. Even when we win, I’m chewing them out, correcting mistakes to help them win a state title.”
While Brack will always carry that competitive fire, it will not burn on the wrestling mats much longer. He earned his master’s degree in 1992 from the University of Oklahoma and moved into administration this year as an assistant principal at the high school.
In the near future, he will turn the reins of the program over to assistant coach Kevin Kelly and focus on his administrative duties.
“It’s hard to quit, but I’m getting close,” Brack said. “It will be within the next five years. You get into a lifestyle and it becomes part of you.”
Since sixth grade, Brack has lived that lifestyle and passed it on to others. And in coaching, he has reserved that term stud for those that truly standout. As they say, it takes one to know one.