Rusty Transue’s path to the head wrestling coach position at Forsyth Central started in part because of his old boss’ good memory.
It had been more than a decade since Transue had wrestled in high school, at Lumpkin County. He had started college at Georgia Southern, but left to join the Navy after the 9/11 attacks. When he eventually got his degree, he couldn’t immediately find a job, so he came to North Forsyth High, where his wife was teaching English, as a long-term substitute.
And at first, he didn’t recognize the guy who, just a few days into Transue’s gig, found him and asked if he could teach a Russian tie, a move often used for a takedown. It was Raiders head coach Travis Jarrard, who remembered Transue from when he wrestled against the North in high school. Transue soon had a spot on North’s coaching staff as an assistant, where he would stay for nine seasons before being announced as Central’s coach on Thursday.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” Transue said on Friday.
Coaching had been in Transue’s future plans, but after his college studies were waylaid by his military service, he wasn’t thinking about that plan as seriously. He also didn’t expect to have the opportunity to immediately join a program of North’s caliber: During Transue’s nine seasons with the Raiders, they were the top program in the county and one of the most productive in the state, with multiple individual state champions and runner-up finishes at state in both the dual and traditional tournaments.
Transue had previously interviewed for head coaching positions, but before he seriously pursued an opportunity, he wanted to see North’s mega-productive group of 11 seniors in the class of 2018 graduate. And while Transue was happy at North – and still would be if he were still there – he wanted to teach health and physical education, as he was in the science department at North.
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Transue said of his departure. “But I’m excited about the future.”
He has plenty of reason to be, as Central’s program is not in any need of repair. The Bulldogs, under Jeremiah Walker, won the Region 5-7A traditional title this past season and had five individual wrestlers place at state.
Transue has seen up close the factors that have allowed North to put together its huge run of success, and principal among them is the tight bond among parents, wrestlers and coaches.
“Those kids are willing to walk through fire for us and each other,” Transue said.
Transue felt that Walker had built the same kind of atmosphere at Central. His job, then, is just to maintain and try to build on that quality. And while he’s thrilled to be able to remain in Forsyth County and is looking forward to the prospect of facing his former team, Transue also won’t deny that it could take some getting used to.
“I think it’s going to feel really weird at first,” he said.