Hughesville wrestling coach Budman resigns

Steve Budman had more fun coaching wrestling this past season than he’s had in a long time. That’s part of why it made the decision so difficult for the Hughesville coach to resign his position at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

The East Lycoming School District board accepted Budman’s resignation Tuesday, ending a 17-season run which spanned two separate runs as coach. Budman finished with a 199-122 dual-meet record, leading the Spartans from 1998-2003 and then again from 2009 until 2019.

In that time, Budman coached 15 wrestlers to the state tournament, five of which won medals, including Kyle Barnes’ state finals appearance 2012. He also guided Hughesville to a third-place finish at the District 4 Duals tournament, earning the school’s only berth into the state dual-meet tournament.

But despite all that, Budman said Wednesday he’s reached a point in his life where he’d like to do other things. He expects to still be around the program as a volunteer assistant coach.

“You know, I didn’t make it to a single elementary practice this year,” Budman said. “The time consumption just did not allow me to do that. I was spending more time in the senior high room because I felt like I needed to. And the only time I got to see the junior high kids was if we ran a joint practice. This is going to allow me some freedom to move around and do some other things.

“This was a tough decision, a hard decision.”

Despite the lean times Hughesville has fallen on in recent years, Budman has always pointed to an exciting group of junior high wrestlers he thought had the capability to help bring the program back to the strong run it had a half-dozen years ago. That’s one of the reasons it made it so hard to Budman to step away as Hughesville’s head coach.

This coming up season was going to be the first season Budman got the opportunity to coach the son of a wrestler he had previously coached. It’s something he had been looking forward to.

“I waited a long time for that to happen,” Budman said. “That boy and that dad waited a long time for that. Him looking at me when I was telling the kids I was going to hang it up was awfully tough. It was something we all had looked forward to. A lot of those kids on the team now, I’ve been with them since they were first or second-graders.”

When he returned to Hughesville in 2009 after a six-year hiatus, he adopted a new coaching style which was much different than the strict ways he employed in his first run from 1998-2003. He was more forgiving and he learned to understand just what all went into a wrestler’s daily life and to appreciate the work each individual was putting in.

In his first stint as the school’s coach, Budman was a self-proclaimed hothead. But he knew that wasn’t going to fly when he came back to the program. It was a different era of kids, and while he was still demanding in what he asked of his wrestlers, he made sure the process was fun, too.

“Coaching in two different eras like I did was really unique,” Budman said. “From ’03-’09 I was completely out of wrestling and didn’t go to many matches at all. I had to change the way I coached. I think Troy Charles and Brian Anstadt, who both wrestled for me and coached with me, will tell you I was much different the second time around. I learned this time to enjoy the perfection of a wrestling move and what wrestlers do compared to other students. I was pretty proud I was able to coach in two different eras with two different styles of athletes.”

Budman, a 1989 graduate of Hughesville and a 1989 state champion, enjoyed the pressure which came with coaching at his alma mater. In a wrestling-crazed town where dual-meets might as well be family and class reunions, Budman enjoyed being held accountable by the fans who didn’t like what they saw from his team.

He enjoyed knowing everyone was so passionately involved with the program and wanted nothing more than to see success from the boys he coached. He himself grew up sitting around the dinner table hearing stories of the wrestlers who came before him and what they meant to the community. And he did his best to foster a winning atmosphere.

“For me to go really go through that and get to coach at that place, that was pretty special,” Budman said. “And it was a huge responsibility. If I ever did something wrong, the old-timers would let me know it. But that’s part of what made coaching at Hughesville fun.”