Coach Aaron leads Rockhurst wrestling into new era

STA_STA_AARON_ARMANDMr. Armand Aaron had spent over thirty years venturing around the midwest until he landed here in Kansas City, as a Rockhurst theology teacher. Using his experience from his own successful wrestling career, he has also taken over the head coaching job for the Rockhurst wrestling squad, which is beginning its 2014-2015 season.

Born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, Mr. Aaron attended Bishop Carroll High School, which is run by the Christian Brothers, a Catholic community similar to the Jesuits. This environment led him to considering becoming a Christian Brother himself, and ultimately took him to Christian Brothers University (CBU) in Memphis, Tennessee.

Midway through his junior year, he realized that a life as a brother wasn’t for him. Instead, Mr. Aaron wanted to focus on his wrestling career, a sport not offered at CBU. So, he returned to Kansas to wrestle for a year at Fort Hays State University.

After college, he had a short stint working as a claims adjuster for an insurance company, struggling to determine what he truly wanted to do. Luckily, he got the job oppurtunity to teach at Christian Brothers High School. So at age 23, Mr. Aaron traveled back to Memphis. He spent nine years there, teaching history, which was his degree, and eventually meeting his wife.

With their first child, they moved to St. Louis, where his wife’s family lived. There, he got another job as a teacher, this time at Christian Brothers College High School (CBC). During his twenty years there, Mr. Aaron began his career as a wrestling coach and switched over to the theology department.

Once again, though, Mr. Aaron moved back to Memphis in 2008 after his wife became a professor at Memphis University. After a few years, they realized that Memphis wasn’t the logical place for them. Kansas City, between their hometowns of Wichita and St. Louis, became the prime destination.

“When I was young, I was talented at wrestling,” Mr. Aaron said. “It’s a high skill sport, but also requires a strong level of commitment.”

He formed an early love for the sport and has been involved with it ever since.

His development and experience as a coach over the years is an advantage that may help him lead the squad to success.

“It’s hard for the kids who are wrestling, and it’s hard for the coaches,” he said. “It’s intense and requires a lot of hours, but I’m competitive.”

Ultimately, though, this hard work pays off for the coaches and the wrestlers.

“You’re going to get bruised, you’re going to get twisted, and you’re going to hurt,” Mr. Aaron said. “But it is very rewarding.”

He says that the best part of coaching is watching the players develop, especially coming in as inexperienced underclassman.

“At the end of the year, I ask my wrestlers, ‘What do you think would happen if your current self wrestled you at the beginning of the year?’” Mr. Aaron said. “They respond ‘Oh, that’s no contest. They can really sense how much they have grown as a person and as a an athlete.”

Having only taught at all-boys schools and being a big sports guy, Mr. Aaron fits right in the culture here. And after hopping around a few cities throughout his life, Mr. Aaron has found a home at Rockhurst.

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