Tyler Schnaubert has made his way around the west – the southwest, the upper west.
Now, Schnaubert is right back exactly where he wants to be, exactly where he feels he belongs.
Schnaubert – who has wrestled for Hobbs, coached in North Dakota, and then done some assistant coaching for the Eagles – is the new Hobbs varsity wrestling head coach, stepping up and stepping in for the retiring Thomas Rotunno.
Schnaubert, a 2010 Hobbs High graduate, has been back home since he returned there to be an assistant on Rotunno’s staff four years ago. But now Schnaubert is really home, as in right at home, serving as head coach of the program he helped grow, the program he loves.
“Oh, I’m very excited,” Schnaubert said. “It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, since I was a teenager, be a wrestling coach.”
“He’s an outstanding young man,” Hobbs High School Athletic Director Brenda Wilson said. “He’s a Hobbs High School graduate. We had hoped years ago to bring him here. Thomas Rotunno has been a great mentor for him the last few years, and I think he’s going to be a tremendous asset to our program. That was kind of the goal when we brought him here several years ago. We knew that Coach Rotunno wasn’t going to be here forever; we all reach retirement age at some point. And it worked out perfectly.”
Schnaubert says he couldn’t have realized his dream without his parents, Mike and Annabel Horne.
“They’ve supported me pretty much all the way,” Schnaubert said. “They were at my high school meets and college meets. They’ve done a lot for me.”
Though Schnaubert has been preparing for this moment with his college and high school coaching experience, he expects to do some adjusting to his new position with the Eagles. Schnaubert was already working with the Hobbs wrestlers, a big part of a coach’s job. But he didn’t have to deal with the administrative side of it, a responsibility he will now indeed have to take on.
“I guess you would say the business side,” he said, “the paperwork, setting up a schedule, things like that. The majority of what I had done here was one-on-one coaching. It’s definitely a learning curve. I’m excited to learn; it’s just part of it. I like coaching practices, that’s what I love to do, that’s what I feel I really excel at. But just learning the process and being the head guy is something that I’ve always wanted.”
His senior year competing for the Eagles, Schnaubert wrestled at 152 pounds. After graduating from Hobbs, he continued his wrestling career for the University of Jamestown, an NAIA school in Jamestown, North Dakota. After graduation, Schnaubert stayed at Jamestown for a bit, working as the head wrestling assistant coach.
“It was college,” Schnaubert said. “It ran a little different than high school.”
There were similar general aspects; Schnaubert worked with the wrestlers one-on-one and handled a lot of the weight training.
And among the many differences between high school and college wrestling, one stood out.
“Oh, definitely the intensity,” Schnaubert said. “There aren’t any bad wrestlers in college, there are no easy matches. It’s just a lot more intense. Everybody is there for the same things – to start and be All-American and qualify for the national tournament. I never All-Americaned. But as the assistant we had two national finalists and three all-Americans. I feel like I’ve always been a better coach than a competitor. I’ve always been a good competitor, but I feel like I really thrived as a coach. That’s definitely my calling. I loved to compete, but I definitely liked the coaching aspect better. I feel like I thrive better at getting the most out of my athletes.”
And Schnaubert thinks he has already done that with the Hobbs wrestlers, even as an assistant coach.
“I knew (Rotunno) was going to retire,” Schnaubert said, “and the goal was to hand (the head-coaching job) over to me. So it’s kind of been a transition over the past couple of years; the boys and girls, they know what’s expected, they know my philosophy. We train at 5:30 in the morning three times a week during the season. I tell them whether they win a state championship or not, they’re going to be better people by just sticking it out. They understand that, they understand that it’s hard work and there are no short cuts ever.
“They hated it at first,” Schnaubert continued, “but I think they’ve embraced it now. They see the results from one year to another. I’m really big on the weight training and the conditioning. They definitely come in dragging, but once they started seeing the results paying off, they got excited about it. Those hours just started adding up and adding up, so they see the difference and they see why we do it.”
Schnaubert, who teaches sixth grade at Houston Middle School, has tried to use that as a recruiting pipeline. “I feel like that’s going to come to fruition in five years,” he said.
“He works a lot with our young wrestlers,” Wilson said. “He started a club program for the younger-aged kids. He brings that dynamic to the program. We haven’t been able to reach kids that age in the past, so he brings that too.”
As for his new varsity coaching duties, Schnaubert already has a built-in rivalry to look forward to – his uncle Mark Pratt is Carlsbad’s head wrestling coach. Schnaubert says his cousin, Pratt’s son Jarred, has been a wrestling practice partner and wrestling brain to pick.
“We’re still bouncing ideas off each other,” Schnaubert said. “We have a lot of conversations about wrestling.”
During the offseason, Schnaubert will still be coaching, teaching wrestlers how to throw and how to master different positions. He will also guide some of his Eagles to a regional competition in Mulvane, Kansas in June, and nationals in Fargo, North Dakota in July.
“We always say, ‘Summer wrestling makes winter champions,’” Schnaubert noted.
Schnaubert says he will have a young team next season. But he thinks they will improve fast, because wrestling, though difficult, has fairly simple keys to success.
“Just consistency and hard work,” Schnaubert said. “Wrestling is one of those sports where everybody can be good at it if they put in the work. Some sports, it’s genetic. But wrestling, it’s who goes out there and works the hardest and is the most consistent.”