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David Henry Vibber -- Retires after 30 years of coaching

It's a good thing Dave Vibber is in good health, because the longtime Tempe Corona del Sol wrestling coach has some work to do now that he is retired.

"I'll take some time over the summer to see what is next," he said. "There is nothing concrete. The world is wide open; I just don't have anything pinned down yet. I guess I will hike to the top of some mountain here in Phoenix, take some time to think about it, maybe talk to my creator and see what is next."

Whatever that might be, it is going to be hard to surpass what Vibber accomplished in his 30 years at Corona. He ranks eighth in Arizona history with 403 career wins and leaves with the program on top.

In the 2007-08 season, Corona won the individual tournament to grab the top seed in the state dual tournament and finished second. This past season, Corona again won the individual tournament, on the strength of four champions, and went on to beat three-time defending state champion Mesa 26-25 for the program's first state team title.

"The boys gave me a gift and I can leave without feeling like there was something left undone," said Vibber, who turns 55 next week. "It was a really cool year, from that standpoint, and left me with an easier choice."

Vibber retired from Corona as a physical education teacher last spring, but came back this school year through Smart School Plus, a third-party contractor for retired teachers, in the same capacity. He didn't know he was going to step down from wrestling coach until after the season ended in February.

"My decision to not coach swung on the decision to not teach anymore," he said. "If I'm not going to teach, then I can't come back and do the (coaching) job the way I need to.

"I still love it and there is part of me that is really going to miss it. I thought about it and I would rather step down with the fire still going instead of being someone who stayed a few years too many."

Cottonwood Mingus coach Tom Wokasch said that definitely wasn't the case with Vibber.

"Corona is always going to have tough kids with solid technique," Wokasch said. "They are well-coached and have good character and that is a direct result of his influence. Anytime we lose an experienced coach with a lot of years like Dave it hurts the sport of wrestling."

Vibber, who has been married to his wife, Melinda, for more than 30 years, said he couldn't have drawn up a better career.

"I wanted to be a PE teacher and coach wrestling from the time I was in high school," said Vibber, who finished with 419 career wins in 35 years, counting his time in Michigan.

"There was something about my (Alma, Mich.,) high school wrestling coach (Jim Trumble) that I knew it was what I wanted to do the rest of my life. It always was a life long dream."

In fact, when Corona won the individual tournament two years ago, Vibber called Trumble, now retired on Florida, to let him know.

"I knew it was in the middle of the night for him, but I called him from the mini-bus on the ride back to the school," Vibber said. "He was a dad to all of us and I knew it was something I wanted to share with him."

Article and photo from the azcentral.com - May 21, 2009