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Remembering a Coach, Teacher, and Mentor

In 1987 the legacy began. This was a significant year in Minneapolis wrestling. They gained Jeffery Giles, one of the most memorable coaches in Kansas wrestling. Sadly on February 11, 2014, his death shocked wrestlers and coaches statewide.

“His passing was very unexpected. He was the pillar of the community and of the wrestling program,” assistant Minneapolis wrestling coach Chaz Hawk said.

Since 1987, Giles had been the coach at Minneapolis High School. He was also the physical education teacher and head football coach, but was best known for his career as wrestling coach. Besides being just a coach, he was also remembered for being a role model for students in his community and also for being an all-around friendly person.

“The most quality memory I have of him is just his friendliness and sincerity. People say that a lot about others, but that was true of Jeff Giles,” Hoisington head wrestling coach and close friend, Dan Schmidt, said.

Not only did he just start coaching in 1987, he rebuilt the program. The Minneapolis wrestling program was ready to shut down, then Jeffery Giles became the coach. He built it up to what it is today with a lot of hard work. He revived the program, but also made it a huge success, winning nine conference championships and having many state qualifiers.

“He had too many state qualifiers and state placers to count. There were so many of them,” Hawk said.

Losing a coach mid-season was very hard on the Minneapolis wrestlers. Despite what happened, here at state, the Minneapolis wrestlers are looking to place high.

“It affected them really hard. It was like losing a family member. But they bounced back and have done really well so far,” Hawk said.
A way to remember Giles and commemorate him is the stickers wrestlers are wearing on their head gear. These stickers bear Jeff Giles’ initials on them, JG. Every wrestler from the Minneapolis team and even wrestlers from all over Kansas competing at the state tournament are wearing them on the left side of their head gear.

He did not only leave an impact on Minneapolis, but on many wrestling teams and individual wrestlers from all over. He hosted a summer camp every year in Minneapolis for any team or wrestler that wanted to attend. The Hoisington wrestling team was present every year.

“We started the summer with him. It’s a devastating thought that we will not be starting the summer with him again. It’s really hard to think that. He didn’t care what colors you wore--he would do his very best to help you,” Schmidt said.

He also left an impression on other coaches. Many coaches strive to be like be like him. Schmidt recalls how much of an effect he had on him as a person and a coach.

“I definitely looked up to him as a coach. He was so positive. I was done with coaching for a while and he was the one that helped me back into to it.”

Right: Anderson from Oberlin has the JG decal on his headgear

He had many qualities that made him the coach he was. It was clear that he loved the sport and always put his effort and time into his coaching. His energy and willingness to help was something that cannot be replaced by anyone.

“There were so many qualities that made him a great coach. He was positive, upbeat, excited, and optimistic all the time,” said Hawk. “Perfect. I know that sounds dumb, but it was truly and honestly the best way to describe him.”

Sarah Mick


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