Coaching is something that Lackawanna Trail graduate Keith Gavin has always wanted to do. After briefly doing it a few years back, he now has earned the opportunity to fully commit to doing so.
Gavin, 28, was named an assistant coach for the University of Virginia wrestling team on Wednesday. He will join head coach Steve Garland and a Cavaliers squad that went 18-3-3 and finished tied for 23rd in the NCAA Championships during the 2013-14 season.
“I’m excited about the job,” Gavin said. “I think that the University of Virginia is a great program. I’m confident in who I’ll be coaching with. We have very good coaches so I think we can all kind of learn things from each other. I’m really looking forward to getting started.”
After graduating from Trail in 2003, Gavin continued his career at the University of Pittsburgh, where he wrestled from 2003-08 and compiled a 120-37 record. He was a two-time All-American and in 2008, he finished 27-0 and was the national champion at 174 pounds. He was also the national runner-up in 2007.
When his collegiate career ended, Gavin stayed on the Panthers’ coaching staff as an assistant coach for one season. Although he was an official member of the staff, Gavin was also getting his international wrestling career started.
He said it was a real challenge to juggle both jobs, recalling times where he would miss time due to competitions of his own. Now, he’s fully focused on his duties as a coach but has not ruled out the possibility of continuing his own wrestling career.
“I still might compete, we’ll see how it goes,” Gavin said. “In my role, I’ll be training, running a lot of the practices and wrestling with guys on the team, which I think is awesome. I’ll have a lot of responsibilities.”
Gavin is currently a member of the United States National Freestyle Team and is the top-ranked wrestler at 86 kilograms (185 pounds). This past April, he won his second consecutive freestyle championship in Las Vegas.
He’s been a member of the U.S. national team for the past five years and along with his consecutive national championships, he was runner-up at the 2010 and 2014 U.S. World Team Trials .
Gavin also placed third at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and 2011 World Team Trials and competed for his country at the 2013 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
This is the first step, Gavin said, toward his ultimate goal, but he’s taking this opportunity as it comes.
“I guess, ideally, I’d like to be the head coach of a college program,” he said. “But I’m in no rush to get there. I’m really going to enjoy being an assistant coach right now.”