Every new program must create its own path

Updated: July 1, 2013

By Sandy Stevens

 Editor’s Note: The following column first appeared in WIN, Volume 19, Issue 10, and printed July 1, 2013.


Wrestling fans cheer when another college or university adds the sport to its athletic line-up, but few of us consider the challenges involved in getting that program up and running.

Those are tasks Scott DCamp understands well as he works to field a team for next season at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, Minn.

Although the Northland Pioneers sponsored a wrestling team starting in 1966, they dropped the program four years later. For DCamp, that means the same as starting anew.

“For a new program, there’s no road map to follow,” he said.

DCamp, 33, was named the program’s head coach in January. He credits Northland Dean of Students Scott Crittenden, a former Upper Iowa University wrestler who also coached high school wrestling and football in Iowa, for helping support the sport’s addition.

“His mindset is that when people cut programs, they don’t consider students who may be there just for that program,” DCamp said. “He knows it’s an opportunity to increase enrollment and by not offering a program, you’re not necessarily losing just potential wrestlers but their girlfriends and friends as well.”

The coach anticipates starting the season with around 18 team members. “We’re now at 12, with up to four transfers,” he said. Four are former high school competitors: graduates from 2009, 2011 and 2012, who will be giving college and collegiate wrestling a try.

Some of Northland’s most prestigious areas of study include carpentry, welding, firefighting, automobile maintenance and aviation maintenance.

As expected, most of Northland’s initial recruits come from northern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota, but one hails from Texas.

“He’d wrestled for only two years, but he was a state runner-up his senior year in 2011,” DCamp said.

Born and reared in the Des Moines area until high school, DCamp didn’t start competing until he was a ninth-grader for Buffalo High School in Michigan.

“But the sport wasn’t alien to me, being from Iowa,” he said. “We used to watch Iowa-Iowa State meets on TV.”

Always at heavyweight, DCamp suffered just two regular-season losses as a senior and finished one match short of placing in the top six at the state tournament.

“I started a little slow, but I had coaches who really believed in me,” he said.

He then headed to Division II Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he started in about half the duals each season.

“The disappointment of not placing in state fueled my decision to wrestle in college and not doing as well as I wanted in college fueled my getting into coaching,” he said.

After graduating from Moorhead in 2003, DCamp became a news reporter for the Thief River Falls Times and volunteered to help coach wrestling at Thief River Falls High School. Two years later, he became a paid assistant coach, and this past spring, accompanied five of his wrestlers to the National High School Championships in Virginia Beach, including one sophomore who placed fourth.

DCamp and his wife, April, also a reporter with the Times, have a son Storm, who will be two on June 30.

Was he named to honor the Minnesota Storm?

“Partly,” DCamp said. “I’m also a competitive bowler, and that’s the name of my favorite bowling company. My wife came up with the name for kind of a dual purpose.”

DCamp says his preparation for the upcoming season essentially parallels that of established programs.

“I recruited at (high school) tournaments we competed in and after our season, contacted coaches for information. What I learned, though, was that a lot of schools were ahead of me; coaches were already talking to juniors,” he said.

Northland will enter the Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC), joining Itasca (Grand Rapids), Minnesota West (Worthington), Ridgewater (Willmar) and defending conference champion Rochester.

Wearing Northland’s navy blue and scarlet, the Pioneers’ first 2013-14 outing will come at North Dakota State University’s Bison Open on Nov. 9.

Their coach’s goal:

“I want to have a full line-up and be as competitive as we can possibly be,” DCamp said. “It might take us a little while to get our sea legs back.”