Plant High wrestling coach brings in unique experience after Army Special Forces career

Plant High School's wrestling coach has special experience that took him to dangerous places, but that experience also taught him a lot about building a team. 

Team building has become a popular goal in the business world, but the Plant High wrestlers in Tampa said they're feeling it in a big way. 

"It’s mainly the bond with these guys out here. It’s just something you love," said Parker Milling, a sophomore wrestler at Plant. 

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Their wrestling coach Jay Powers has unique experience in leadership. 

He recently retired in March after a 26-year career that began at West Point and included command of the Army's 5th Special Forces group. His career also included multiple combat deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. 

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Powers wrestled in high school and on club teams at West Point. When his sons began wrestling at Plant High he helped out as an assistant. When the school couldn’t find a head wrestling coach, he volunteered. 

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"I’m just excited for the opportunity," he said. 

Powers said when you create the right positive environment, people can thrive and be their best. That includes high school wrestlers. 

"My real focus is set these kids up for future success," said Powers. We focus on the values of character, intensity and teamwork, because those are what I think are necessary to succeed in life."

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He said it’s great to teach kids how to win, but that doesn’t always happen. 

"You don’t get your hand raised every time. Sometimes you come up the loser, especially when you are a new wrestler it happens a lot," said Powers. "Having to strive, come up short and then come back in here and work hard to do better next time. I just think it’s a fantastic life lesson." 

He may be a first year head coach, but he brings a lifetime of leadership experience.