Reconstruction of program creates family

Senior Alexander Rebultan struggles to get out of the hold of his opponent.

Devin Wickstrom

Alumni often return to their high school after some years for a football game or to see a former teacher. But there are few who return to give back to their alma mater, to continue the legacy they experienced, to teach current generations. Dao Tep is one of those few.

The 32-year-old, who wrestled from 1995-1998 in the 103 and 112 weight classes, is now the head coach for the team. His predecessor, Andres Uyeda, coached him when attended, and has coached until last year. “Dre (Uyeda) gave me a call last year and told me he was giving it up, so I came and became his assistant for the 2012-2013 season.”

Tep competed in mixed martial arts for the past three years as both a coach and fighter and he took his three captains for this season to his gym over the summer.

“We mostly conditioned,” he said. “We worked on cross training, losing weight, and basically just getting in shape for this year.”

He said he would like to change the annual routine of the team. The plan is to teach moves and techniques over summer and then condition and drill as the school year starts and the season approaches.

“We’re constantly working,” he said. “There is a dead period for a couple weeks after the season. But after that, we’re back at it until the next season ends.”

Kevin Culp, senior, was one of the captains to join Tep over the summer.

“We got to wrestle with more advanced MMA fighters,” he said. “They were stronger than us and we were in a completely new environment. It was very motivational.” Culp also said that Tep is a great teacher. “He breaks the moves down into simple, clear steps. He tries to make it suitable for us.” He said Tep is a more technical teacher, one who focuses more on “winning the position” rather than pure strength.

Besides goals for this season, the new coach has long-term ones to build the team. “Compared to other schools, we’re starting the season behind.” Tep said the key to improving is attending the summer practices.

They are less intense, but the break from school gives students time to focus on the moves and techniques so they have them mastered by the start of the season. “I’d like to change the whole culture of this program.” One of his goals is to get the youth program more involved to build a stronger year-round team.

“But it’s important to remember that we’re here to have fun and stay in shape,” Tep said. “We’re here to build a family.”