John Smith, Cary Kolat to serve as U.S. Women’s World Team Coaches in Paris, France, August 23-24

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Aug. 14, 2017, 8:11 p.m. (ET)
Photo of John Smith courtesy of Oklahoma State, and photo of Cary Kolat courtesy of Campbell University.

VIDEO: John Smith on coaching USA Women's World Team

VIDEO: Cary Kolat on coaching USA Women's World Team

A pair of Hall of Fame wrestlers and legendary NCAA Div. I head coaches, John Smith of Stillwater, Okla. and Cary Kolat of Buies Creek, N.C., will serve as the official volunteer coaches for the 2017 U.S Women’s World Team, which will compete at the 2017 World Championships in Paris, France, August 23-24.

They will work with USA Wrestling’s professional national coaching staff, including National Women’s Coach Terry Steiner and Assistant National Coaches Clarissa Chun and Emma Randall. Smith and Kolat have worked with the U.S. Senior Women’s World Team during training camps this summer and will help coach the women athletes on the mats in Paris. This will be the first major assignment in Senior women’s wrestling for both Smith and Kolat, who have been successful and respected men’s freestyle coaches for many years.

John Smith is considered one of the world’s greatest wrestlers, a 1988 and 1992 Olympic freestyle champion and four-time World champion. Smith won his World and Olympic gold medals in six consecutive years, unmatched in U.S. wrestling history. He is the head coach at his alma mater, Oklahoma State, where he has led the Cowboys to five NCAA team titles. Smith won two NCAA titles and was a three-time finalist for Oklahoma State.

Cary Kolat was a 1997 World silver medalist and 1998 World bronze medalist in freestyle wrestling and a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team. He won two NCAA titles for Lock Haven, and was also a two-time All-American for Penn State before transferring to Lock Haven. After a number of assistant coaching positions, Kolat became the head coach at Div. I Campbell University, where he is quickly leading the Camels to national prominence. Kolat coached Campbell’s first NCAA All-American this past year.

“I think it shows where we have come in women’s wrestling, when we have coaches of this caliber and stature who are willing and wanting to help. It indicates how we’ve grown in this country and the attitude towards having women on the mats. They bring so much credibility. The women don’t question them. They believe in them 100%. It gives the athletes another perspective and viewpoint. To hear some of the things we have been saying, and some additional things from these coaches is very positive for the women and their confidence going into the World Championships. We are very appreciative. We understand the positions they are in. It is big that they have taken the time from their programs and their families to work with us. Hopefully, as a program, we can build upon these relationships. There is a lot of great coaching we haven’t had yet. It can only enhance our chances for success in the future,” said National Women’s Coach Terry Steiner

John Smith is a member of the United World Wrestling International Wrestling Hall of Fame. Both Smith and Kolat have been elected as Distinguished Members of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, with Smith inducted in 1997 and Kolat inducted in 2017.

“This is my first opportunity and it has been rewarding. I really respect athletes who are serious about their sport. I saw that throughout the women’s team. It is exciting. I don’t know what this means for Paris, but what I have seen are some young ladies who are ready to wrestle, with a skill level that is superb,” said Smith.

Kolat was able to help coach women when serving as a coach for men at a recent Pan American Championships. He not only enjoyed the experience but gained respect for the athletes and the program.

“I got to know the girls and coached them at the Pan American Championships. I had a great time. They were receptive to my coaching and thoughts when I was in their corner. Terry (Steiner) and I have been friends since our competitive days. He asked me if I could help out. It is a good move in helping grow women in wrestling. It is good for us all. More guys, like what I have done and John Smith have done at the highest level, hopefully more of them are not just spending all their time with the male athletes but also transition over to the female athletes,” said Kolat.

BIOGRAPHY: John Smith, Stillwater, Okla.

John Smith of Stillwater, Okla., a two-time Olympic champion and four-time World champion as an athlete and a two-time U.S. Olympic Team Coach, has been named as an official volunteer coach for the 2017 U.S. Women’s World Team which will compete in Paris, France.

Smith was an official Men’s Freestyle Coach for the 2012 Olympic Team Coach which competed in London, England. The United States had a pair of gold medalists, Jordan Burroughs and Jake Varner, and a bronze medalist in Coleman Scott. Smith was also the personal freestyle coach and college coach for Scott.

Smith also served as a co-head coach for the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team, which competed in Sydney, Australia. The U.S. won four individual medals, including a gold medal from Brandon Slay.

Smith served as World Team coach for all three U.S. World Freestyle Teams from 2009-12. He was coach for the 2011 U.S. World Team which competed in Istanbul, Turkey which finished third in the team standings, led by World champion Jordan Burroughs and World medalist Jake Varner.

Smith served as World Team coach for the 2010 U.S. World Team which competed in Moscow, Russia. He was also coach for the 2009 U.S. World Team, which competed in Herning, Denmark, and placed seventh in the team standings, led by individual medalists Jake Herbert and Tervel Dlagnev.

He also served as coach for the 1999 U.S. World Team, which competed in Ankara, Turkey, placing second in the team standings and winning three medals, including a gold medal by Stephen Neal. As coach of the 1998 U.S. World Team, the U.S. placed third in the team standings in Tehran, Iran with three medals, including a gold medal by Sammie Henson.

He was also the head coach of the 1998 U.S. Goodwill Games team, which captured the team title and featured three individual gold medalists. He was a co-coach of the 1997 U.S. World Cup team that won the team title and made history by winning every bout in the gold-medal match against Russia.

Smith is a coach with the Cowboy WC, which is the Regional Training Center at Oklahoma State. Many of the athletes he coaches in Senior freestyle compete for the Titan Mercury WC, but he has also coached other elite men’s freestyle wrestlers with other clubs in the past.

He is currently the head coach at Oklahoma State Univ., one of the most successful Div. I wrestling programs in history. He is the winningest coach in Oklahoma State history, with a career record of 398-69-6. He has led the Cowboys to five NCAA team titles (1995, 2003-2006). He has coached 32 NCAA individual champions and six Olympians, including 2004 silver medalist Jamill Kelly and 2012 bronze medalist Coleman Scott. Oklahoma State has won 19 conference championships under Smith’s leadership. He has been the Conference Coach of the Year 15 times, including 13 in the Big 12 and two in the Big Eight.

As an athlete, Smith was considered by many the best freestyle wrestler in U.S. history. He claimed gold medals at the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games, and won four World gold medals (1987, 1989, 1990, 1991). His six straight World-level titles is unprecedented. He also won titles at the Pan American Games (twice), Goodwill Games (twice) and the World Cup.

Smith won most of the major awards in amateur athletics, including the James E. Sullivan Award, the USOC SportsMan of the Year and the World Trophy. He was FILA Wrestler of the Year in 1991, and won the 1990 FILA Master of Technique Award. He is a member of the FILA International Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, along with many other major honors. In 2004, Smith was presented with the Titan Award by the U.S. Olympic Committee, and the next year, he joined his brother Pat as one of 15 wrestlers named to the NCAA's 75th Anniversary Team. Smith was USA Wrestling’s Freestyle Coach of the Year in 1998, 2000 and 2009.

Smith was a two-time NCAA champion for Oklahoma State (1987-88) and a three-time All-American. He originally hails from Del City, Okla., where he won two state high school titles. He is from one of the nation’s most successful wrestling family, with brothers Lee Roy, Pat and Mark all with major national and international achievements, as well as his nephews Mark and Chris Perry. His son Joseph competes for him at Oklahoma State, where he is an All-American for the Cowboys.

BIOGRAPHY: Cary Kolat, Buies Creek, N.C.

2000 Olympian and two-time World medalist Cary Kolat of Buies Creek, N.C., has been named as an official volunteer coach for the 2017 U.S. Women’s World Team which will compete in Paris, France.

Kolat placed second in the 1997 World Championships, third in the 1998 World Championships and fourth in the 1999 World Championships in freestyle wrestling. He was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team, which competed in Sydney, Australia.

He won three World Cup gold medals, in addition to titles at the 1998 Goodwill Games, the 1999 Pan American Games and the 2000 Pan American Championships. Kolat claimed three U.S. Open titles, and made six U.S. Freestyle National teams. He was also a Cadet World Champion in 1989 while a high school student.

Kolat enters his fourth season as the head coach at Campbell University, after guiding the Camels to the 2017 Southern Conference Championship. Nathan Kraisser became the first All-American in program history under Kolat’s tutelage.

Prior to taking over the Campbell program, Kolat was the associate head coach at the University of North Carolina. Kolat has also served on wrestling staffs at Lehigh, Wisconsin, West Virginia and his alma mater, Lock Haven. Throughout his college career, Kolat has coached elite athletes in freestyle wrestling at the Regional Training Centers for each university program.

Cary Kolat is an innovator in providing World-class online wrestling technical instruction through his respected website Kolat.com.

In college, Kolat was a two-time NCAA Div. I champion and four-time All-American. He was the NCAA champion in 1996 and 1997 for Lock Haven, going 25-1 as a junior and 25-0 as a senior. Kolat began his collegiate career at Penn State, where he was an NCAA runner-up as a freshman and third as a sophomore. He completed his college wrestling career with a 111-7 overall record and 53 pins. Kolat earned his Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from Lock Haven in 2003.

While at Jefferson-Morgan High in Pennsylvania, Kolat won four-straight state titles and compiled a perfect 137-0 record. He was named Outstanding Wrestler at the state meet each year, an honor no one else had won even twice. While in high school, Kolat was already nationally ranked at the Senior level in freeestyle wrestling, and is considered one of the greatest high school wrestlers of all time.

Kolat was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Member in 2017.