By Maurice Patton
Jared Grindstaff, who helped establish Independence as one of the Midstate’s more respected wrestling programs, stepped down as head coach earlier this month to accept an assistant principal position at Mill Creek Middle School in Nolensville.
“Five years ago, I pulled the trigger on going back to school to get my endorsement to go into administration,” the 38-year-old said. “I’ve been waiting for the right position to advance my career. I needed to take advantage of this opportunity that was presented to me.”
Grindstaff becomes the second Williamson County high school wrestling coach to step down since the end of the 2019-20 season. Josh Peck, who left Ravenwood to launch the Nolensville program, resigned last month to return to Ravenwood and will strictly teach.
Over 13 years at the Thompson Station school, Grindstaff’s Eagles made nine TSSAA state dual tournament appearances while he coached six individual state champions, including two-time titlist McCoy Newberg – who went on to wrestle collegiately at Nebraska before concluding his career at Tennessee-Chattanooga – and Zanaya Shropshire.
“He’s so passionate, how he’s grown that program, the number of kids involved; it’s awesome to see the alumni come back every year,” Independence principal Niki Patton said. “And what he’s done with the girls’ program, I’m extremely proud of that as well. He was one of the first in the state, certainly in the Middle Tennessee area, to really encourage that.”
Grindstaff, who had also served recently as golf coach and co-athletics director, began his teaching and coaching career at Nashville’s Hunters Lane High School before becoming the third wrestling coach at Indy in the school’s fourth year of existence.
“I’m probably the most tenured coach in (Region 7-AAA, which includes Spring Hill, Dickson County, and Class AAA programs in Williamson County and Metro Nashville),” he said. “It’s going to be a big change, but change is not always bad.
“This will, overall, help my growth in education.”
Given the timing of the move, Patton admitted that identifying a successor to Grindstaff won’t be easy,
“The way it’s unfolded, being so late, we really have only one teaching position to fill, and that’s Jared’s,” she said. “With the pandemic, there’s not a lot of people moving around. But we’ve opened it up, and he’s helped. He’s still very much involved and I’m going to rely on his help and input with that.
“It’s his program; he’s definitely built it from the ground up. He’s still very much invested in that, and I appreciate that I still get to have his help with that.”
Grindstaff does leave an established coaching staff in place that includes Thomas Berry, Aaron Compton, Jason Grandstaff, Orlando Pillow, Drew Sestito and Bryan Youngsma.
“They can continue to handle things while they find the right person, and I think a number of them are candidates (for the top spot),” he said. “I think it’s a very special program, going in a very good direction. You want to make sure it’s put in the right hands.”
Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or on Twitter at @mopatton_sports.