Fish to be inducted in National High School Coaches Hall of Fame
By Neal A. Shipman
If you keep doing what you love long enough, good things will come to you.
And for Frank Fish, who has been involved in the Watford City High School wrestling program for the past 46 years, his big moment in the sun will come on Tuesday, June 17 when he will become a member of the National High School Athletic Coaches National Hall of Fame during induction ceremonies in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
“I can’t believe I got the award,” states Fish. “It’s an honor to be a part of this Hall of Fame that includes the top coaches from every state in the nation.”
Fish served as the head wrestling coach at Watford City High School from 1965 until 1988. And then after a three-season “retirement,” he accepted a position of varsity assistant coach in 1991 and has been in that position to this day.
“It’s hard to step away from coaching when you’ve been doing it as long as I have,” states Fish. “But obviously, the day will come when I will no longer be a coach.”
During his tenure as a wrestling coach at Watford City High School, Fish not only became the longest serving wrestling coach in North Dakota’s history, but he guided hundreds of young wrestlers to state tournament place finishes.
In the 23 years as the Watford City head coach, his team won three consecutive Class B State Team Championships, and five State Runners-up titles. His team also won 264 dual meets, including a streak of 97 wins, one tie and no losses over six seasons. The Wolves also won 59 tournament championships, including 17 consecutive Regional Titles.
Frank and his assistant coaches coached 29 individual state champions and 90 state place winners.
Since becoming an assistant coach, Watford City has claimed 15 more individual state championships and 65 more state place winners, as well as winning at least 300 more dual meets.
Fish, is a graduate of Mandan High School and was a member of their first wrestling team in 1960. He graduated from Dickinson State College in 1965. While in college he was a member of a “Hall of Fame” team that won 39 consecutive dual meets. At that time it was a national NAIA record. In 1988, he received the Dickinson State University Blue Hawk Athletic Booster Club’s “Outstanding Career Achievement Award.”
Fish was selected as the North Dakota High School Coaches Association (NDHSCA) Class B State Wrestling Coach of the Year twice. He was also nominated by NDHSCA for the NHSACA National Coach of the Year award on three occasions.
Fish was very instrumental in getting the North Dakota High School Activities Association (NDHSAA) to seed the State Wrestling Tournament and served on the state seeding committee for several years.
Fish was also a team leader for the USA-AAU cultural exchange team to Germany in 1981 and a team host to the Japanese cultural exchange team visiting North Dakota in 1982.
Fish served as president of the North Dakota Wrestling Coaches Association for five years and was a member of the NDHSCA Wrestling Advisory Committee to the NDHSAA for five years.
Fish was inducted into the NDHSCA Coaches Hall of Fame in 1990.
Fish is the fifth individual who has coached at Watford City High School to be inducted into the National Coaches Hall of Fame. Earlier inductees include Doyle Radke and Dave Dougherty in wrestling, Fred Fridley in football and Leon House in track.
Frank and Sally, his wife of 50 years, have four children: Laura, Terry, Mary and Janet.
The Fish family has always lived their lives by the slogan, “Watford City wrestling. Lovin’ it, livin’ it.”
And 46 years after he started coaching wrestling in Watford City, Frank Fish is still lovin’ it.