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CCHS wrestling pioneer Clipp had ‘heart of gold’

CCHS wrestling pioneer Clipp had ‘heart of gold’
CCHS wrestling pioneer Clipp had ‘heart of gold’
In 2015, Richard Clipp was recognized at a Corydon Central basketball game when he was set to retire from coaching wrestling after 37 seasons. File photo by Brian Smith

Pioneer. Teacher. Coach. Legend. Pride.
Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame coach Richard Clipp Jr. had a Fu Manchu-style mustache that was easily recognizable in the classroom and on the wrestling mat. A teacher and coach for 37 years at Corydon Central High School, Clipp began the Panthers’ wrestling and girls’ golf programs.
Retiring from the classroom in 2013 and as wrestling coach in 2015, Clipp would later be included in the inaugural Corydon Central Athletics Hall of Fame class in 2018. An impact on roughly 300 wrestlers and countless others, Clipp passed away Aug. 2, 2019, at the age of 66.
A New Albany High School graduate, Clipp began in the Corydon Central wrestling program in 1978. Along with it, he organized the Old Capital Invitational, an event that has commenced 35 times and continues today.
Tallying 366 coaching wins and seven conference championships, Clipp was inducted into the IHSWCA Hall of Fame in 2006.
Current Corydon Central wrestling coach Regan Gusler was on the inaugural squad and remembers Clipp was not a fan of being called ‘coach.’
‘I remember being a little intimidated by him as a freshman going out for wrestling but soon found out he was a very funny, compassionate, interesting although sometimes an intense guy,’ Gusler said. ‘While he was very competitive, he was also very patient and understanding and willing to invest a lot of time and effort into young men, even when there was little chance they would ever develop into great wrestlers. As Corydon wrestling became more competitive, he was able to set an expectation and understanding that Corydon wrestling had a certain air about it.’
Clipp came up with the idea ‘Pride Matters’ to instill in the wrestling program, said Gusler, who was an assistant coach for 17 seasons alongside Clipp.
During the peak of Corydon Central wrestling, the Panthers enjoyed 20-plus years with a winning record.
‘It’s something I know he was very proud of,’ Gusler said.
‘It’s a matter of pride,’ was a quote that stuck with former wrestler Ezra Paden, a 2016 graduate. ‘It was something he used to say, whether it was how you carried yourself on the mat or in life; carrying a certain amount of pride allows you to hold yourself accountable and be the person you know that you can be.’
Paden said Clipp cared. It wasn’t about winning or losing, but he cared about every wrestler who took on the challenges of entering the wrestling room.
Clipp also coached boys’ and girls’ golf at Corydon Central along with stints on the baseball and football fields in different capacities. In 17 seasons as boys’ golf coach, the Panthers won nine Mid-Southern Conference titles. He also was an avid horse-racing fan.
‘I spent a lot of time with Richard Clipp,’ Gusler said. ‘I was fortunate to learn from him a lot about coaching but even more about life, people, integrity or how to read a racing form. He once said that he chose to teach so he could coach, which he loved, whether it was wrestling, golf, baseball or football. I feel extremely fortunate to have had Richard Clipp as a teacher, coach, colleague and friend.’
Corydon Central High School principal Keith Marshall said he met Clipp in 1999 and his observations of interactions with students was memorable.
‘Clipp always saw the good in others,’ Marshall said. ‘As a coach, he recruited many students that, when all was said and done, wrestling made them a better person … He created a wrestling program at CCHS that was well respected. He was a gentle giant of sorts. He had a heart of gold.’
When Clipp was part of the inaugural Corydon Central Athletics Hall of Fame class this past winter, Marshall said he was hesitant about Clipp giving a speech.
‘He has more stories than anyone that I know,’ Marshall said. ‘He did a great job at the ceremony, and it was great to see him be recognized for all of his hard work and dedication.’
With a popcorn and soft drink in hand at a Panthers’ basketball game after the December ceremony, Clipp insisted on paying for his refreshments.
‘I, of course, laughed and said that the least that I could do was get him those two things without making him pay for it,’ Marshall said. ‘He was very deserving, and it was nice to see him with his friends and family that night.’
During 37 years, Clipp coached 35 individual sectional champions, 12 individual regional champions and nine state qualifiers on the mat.
‘The term legend is thrown around a lot these days, but I think it is an appropriate description for him in consideration of the impact he clearly had here at Corydon Central,’ Corydon Central athletic director John Atkins said.
‘Coach Clipp was a remarkable man; his life’s work of building the wrestling program at Corydon and the coaches he chose to surround himself with have had a lasting impact on not only myself, but to all who chose to step out on the mat for Corydon Central,’ Paden said. ‘His primary goal was to create men of character, discipline and pride. I believe that he did that. I know that if it hadn’t been for coach Clipp and the program that he built, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.’