Stephen stepping down as wrestling coach at Collins Hill

Josh Stephen has stepped down as the head wrestling coach at Collins Hill. (File photo)

Josh Stephen has stepped down as the head wrestling coach at Collins Hill. (File photo)

Having coached wrestling for many years, Josh Stephen has come to appreciate the intense combative elements of the sport.

But he didn’t enjoy having to figuratively wrestle with a decision on his future, which ended when he chose to step down as Collins Hill’s head coach late last week.

Stephen, who spent the last three seasons as head coach and two previous seasons as an assistant with the Eagles program, said his decision was made to allow him time to pursue a doctorate degree in curriculum studies, which he hopes will help him reach his goal of advancing from teaching to administration.

“It was a tough decision,” Stephen said. “It’s hard to leave the kids, the parents and the community, but I’ll still be around. I still plan on teaching (at Collins Hill).

“I’m starting my doctorate through Georgia Southern, and the program I’m in needs more flexibility (in terms of scheduling). … My ultimate goal is to move into administration, and I want to do things that will set me up in that (direction). … It’s the best move for me right now.”

Stephen, whose twin brother Mike is the head coach at Grayson, has been coaching wrestling on the high school and youth levels for more than 15 years, including six seasons as head coach at Harrison High School in Cobb County before coming to Collins Hill as an assistant in 2009.

Then, after two years on Cliff Ramos’ staff, he took over the program when Ramos retired 2011 and guided the Eagles to the Class AAAAA state traditional tournament championship in 2012.

In addition, Stephen coached 23 individual state placers, seven individual state champions and two All-Americans heading into this past season while with the Collins Hill program.

Though his pursuit of his doctorate has led him to his decision to step down, he says he will remain active in Gwinnett’s wrestling community, helping to coach with the Compound Training Facility’s northern location in Buford.

“I’m still very passionate about the sport,” Stephen said.