For as long as he lasted as the head coach of the Oxford wrestling program, Scott Gold’s reasoning for stepping away had some humor to it.
For those who knew him, that was probably planned.
After 49 years coaching the Hornets, Gold announced his retirement earlier this week.
“It’s probably referred to as burnout,” the 75-year old said.
It only took him half a century to experience what many adults feel much sooner.
Gold isn’t like the rest. His quiet, rugged exterior was matched with an engaging, witty and determined persona.
His wrestlers loved him, all the way back to 1970, through today.
“He’s been saying he was gonna go for 10 years, but he would always find that reason, whether it was a couple of kids or the team, to come back,” Oxford high school principle Jamie Canaday said. “He really loves the sport. At age 75, his body might not be able to do it, but his mind still can. He learned how to adapt. The one thing he was always able to do was connect with kids. Whether it was the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, he never really lost that and the kids enjoyed and respected him.”
If anyone would know, it’s the Canaday family. Jamie’s father, Jim Canaday, wrestled for Gold early in his career. Jamie was a state medalist for Gold in 1994, and his sons, Rowan and Reiland, were on the team this season.
That’s not abnormal at Oxford, as Gold has coached numerous fathers and sons. For a small-town program, Gold’s name far outreaches its limits.
“If you tell somebody you’re from Oxford, they’ll say ‘oh, you have a good wrestling team and Scott Gold is the coach,’” Oxford athletic director Mike Price said. “They might not know anything else about the town, but they know those two things. He’s a legend.”
His fame is not in name, alone. In his 49 seasons as coach, Gold’s teams won 497 dual meets, including the District 1-2A Duals in 1994. That’s good for 14th, all-time, in Pennsylvania.
“He used to tell us, ‘This is a fight and you’re going out to win a fight,’” former Oxford wrestler Nate Burroughs said. “Win or lose, the other person better know they were in a fight.”
Burroughs was one of two state champions under Gold, joining Josh Stanley. They won titles in back-to-back years, 1993 and 1994, in the heyday of Hornet wrestling.
In 1992, six Hornets qualified for states and in 1994, five won regional titles. Oxford won 10 District 1-2A tournament titles, as Gold’s agenda was always to end his season in Hershey.
“The first trip to Hershey arena in 1974 was a big one,” Gold said. “Then it was, we have to get back here. There was always that carrot dangling.”
Dale Edwards was the first of 13 state medalists under Gold, taking fourth in 1974. A total of 58 wrestlers qualified for the state tournament, 37 in 2A and 21 more in 3A. Gold’s son, Scott Gold III, reached states three times.
“He’s very relatable,” Jamie Canaday said. “He’s genuine. He’s honest, almost to a fault, sometimes. You know where you stand and he’s just one of those guys you can’t put a finger on it, but you either have it or you don’t.”
“As a kid,” Jamie added, “I always wanted to do things that made him proud.”
The challenge of unlocking potential and grinding one’s way to the top drove Gold, and his wrestlers praise his demeanor through it all.
Burroughs recalled his sophomore year, when he qualified for states for the first time. Though it was a surprise to some, Gold wasn’t there just for the experience.
“Having him in my corner, he had that expectation that you should win,” Burroughs said. “Go out and win the match. If you didn’t, he would be able to pick you back up however was needed. He had the ability to be both gruff and light-hearted.”
There have only been three coaches in the history of Oxford wrestling. Price said the job will be posted, though assistant coach of six years, Ben Young, may have the inside track.
Gold said he visited Florida for the first time in his life, just last week. He also said he looks forward to spending a whole week at the hunting camp this fall, instead of the usual one day before having to get back for practice.
Gold’s wife, Suzy, is fighting dementia, so the plans stay small for now, but Gold doesn’t plan on staying away from the mat, even if it’s just as a fan.
“It’s been a good trip and I have no regrets,” he said.
It’d be hard to quantify what 49 years on one team, in one community, means, but Burroughs did a pretty good job trying.
“It’s fitting his name is Gold,” Burroughs said. “Because the value he has on a young person’s life is up there with anything you would count as most-precious.”
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