Crebbin steps down as OHHS wrestling coach

When Oak Harbor wrestlers return to the mat room Monday to begin another season, the man normally greeting them at the door, Mike Crebbin, will be missing.

Crebbin, after eight years of leading the Wildcat program, decided to step down after last season.

“It was a matter of priorities and time,” Crebbin said. “It was a difficult decision, but I couldn’t figure out a way to be the best coach I could be for OHHS and still be the best Dad I must be for my daughters.”

Crebbin said, however, he is stepping down and not out of coaching: “Coaching/teaching is what I do. I will never be done. I will return as soon as I can. It may be in the areas that my daughters are involved (soccer, gymnastics, swim, basketball, etc.) or I might choose to wrestling.”

Crebbin and wife Toni, who resigned from coaching the Coupeville High School volleyball team last fall, have two college-aged sons, Kellen and Joshua, and daughters Kaia and Jaelyn, both 9.

Crebbin’s coaching career began in California where he coached football and softball for two years. That was followed by a five-year stint as wrestling coach at South Whidbey prior to moving to Oak Harbor. He was an assistant wrestling coach at Oak Harbor for two years before taking over the team.

He has also been an assistant track coach at Oak Harbor off and on the past five years.

Crebbin considers last wrestling season as the most successful when his club went 15-1, captured the Wesco 3A North title and finished 10th at state. He was named Wesco 3A and Region 1 3A Coach of the Year, and was Oak Harbor High School’s Coach of the Year.

The highlights of his career include seeing Ben Pralle earn his first win and his dad running out of the bleachers to give him a hug, and Jackson Constant’s pin against Stanwood last year to win the match and clinch the league title.

However, the biggest highlight, Crebbin said, was watching his son Joshua win by a pin in the state semifinals last season.

“I literally fell to my knees,” he said.

Crebbin’s program was more than just a quest for wins.

He hoped each wrestler realized he or she was a “valued and valid member of the team.”

His staff emphasized the team’s core covenants: leadership, integrity, loyalty and competition.

“Most of all, I hope they knew that I loved them,” Crebbin said.

Over the years he saw several changes in wrestling. He found that modern athletes “respond less to external motivations, positive or negative,” and a coach needs to get his athletes to “internalize and want to work harder.”

The sport also has grown more technical and takes an athlete about one season just to understand the basics.

Coaching at Oak Harbor High School was made easier by the support of Athletic Director Nicki Luper and Principal Dwight Lundstrom, Crebbin said.

Peter Esvelt, one of Crebbin’s assistants the past eight years, is the new head coach.

“Peter will be great,” Crebbin said. “He has been a major part of the program’s success. He has the vision, energy, experience and skill for the job. Hopefully he learned from all my mistakes.”

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