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A Conversation with Roger Kish

By Steph Stanislao

To be a coach for a Division-I sport, it takes drive, dedication and intensity, and for NDSU’s Head Wrestling Coach Roger Kish, it takes all of these things and more. A former University of Minnesota wrestler, Kish has been surrounded by the world of wrestling for years. Kish took a moment to sit down with Bison Illustrated and shared a little bit about coaching, hobbies and handling all the pressure.


 As a head coach of a great wrestling program, talk a little bit about your wrestling experience.

You know coming from a pretty good program myself, at the University of Minnesota, you learn a lot of the basics and the foundation of what it takes to be both a good wrestler and competitor. Then I moved into the coaching side over there, so I got to learn a lot of the coaching philosophies and techniques from some of the best coaches in the country. It’s helped me become a more well rounded individual and coach and wrestler as well.

How would you describe your coaching style?

I think it starts with my recruiting. I think we recruit a lot of hard nosed, hard working kids that aren’t afraid to work hard and get tired, and do everything extra that we ask of them. I would think, that as far as a style of coaching is kind of an in your face, intense, hands on, real physical kind of coach.

Who has influenced you most on or off the mat, and why?

I was pretty fortunate, when I grew up, to have my father as my high school coach. He was both my youth coach and my high school coach. So, both on and off the mats he really did a nice job of building the foundation for myself. Then I moved from Minnesota from Michigan, where I ran into a lot of good friends, who I learned a lot from off and on the mats.

How do you spend the off season? Any hobbies?

When you’re working with a program, we continue to do our best to keep our guys around in the summer. We host a big junior national’s tournament, we host some camps and in the summer time we try to build the sport of wrestling right here in Fargo. We keep our guys in town, getting better and training. The recruiting piece is always there too, it’s another big aspect. We’re always on the hunt for some hidden talent, and to continue to build relationships with coaches and kids.

I really enjoy trying to get out and get some fishing in. I really enjoy fishing. I think that’s a lot of fun for me, whether it’s on the ice or on a boat. I enjoy getting out there and getting a line wet.

What other sports do you enjoy?

I’m not very good at many other sports. I think we get out, with the wrestling program, and we try to find different ways to get workouts in. We use soccer or football for different workouts and we try to get in there and have some fun.

How do you prepare before a big meet? Any superstitions?

No, I don’t think so. Personally, I try not to think about it too much. I think that our boys can see our coaching staff when they get a little stressed out or when we’re getting a little anxious. So we try to stay relaxed and stay confident in what we’re doing as a staff. I think our confidence is kind of a foundation for our guys. If they see that we’re confident in them then they tend to be more confident in themselves. So we try not to get too worked up or nervous.

What do you think your wrestlers would say about you?

As a coach, I would probably say they’d consider me a pretty intense guy that treats wrestling like it’s the most important thing. In reality, I think they would just talk about working hard, being intense, staying after it, getting in your face and being tough on and off the wrestling mat. That’s kind of what it comes down to.

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