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Kingpin of Southern Wrestling

Written by John Dupont on .

Jimmy Bible instrumental in making Deep South Bayou Duals among top in nation

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Jimmy Bible took over the Brusly High School wrestling program 13 years ago with hopes he could maintain the program’s momentum.

Bible now works with other schools in the area to help continue the growth throughout  the South.

The BHS wrestling coach serves as one of the top organizers of one of the Deep South Bayou Duels, which grew from humble beginnings to what is now the biggest meet in the South and among the largest in the nation.

The 2012 meet is set for Dec. 28-30 at the River Center Exhibition Hall.

The event -- which Brusly spearheads with Catholic High School -- started with 20 teams its first two years. After a few years teams started calling to participate, Bible said. 

He anticipates 48 teams for the 2013 meet.

The event has moved from the modestly sized Ketchum Fitness Center to the LSU Track & Fieldhouse to this year’s meet at the River Center Exhibition Hall.

“The Baton Rouge Visitors Bureau Center really came on board for this event,” Bible said. “When you have over a thousand kids in the Baton Rouge area, it’s a big economic impact and puts our names on the map. It’s a lot of work for a school like us, but we get a lot of help from other schools.”

The event was the brainchild of Baton Rouge Sports Foundation president Jerry Stovall. 

“He came in for a motivational speech, pulled me aside and said he’d like to start a big tournament,” Bible said. “He said it would be small at first and then it would explode. 

“I toyed with the idea, as did Barrett (Wilson),” Bible said. “A lot of this was Barrett’s doing. The time was right, and he got the teams organized and I helped him out. Now it’s one the biggest tournaments in the South.

“It’s a pretty big tournament now, “ Bible said. “You have some big ones in the North, especially in states like Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and the Dakotas.” 

The event has also attracted the attention of a lot of area schools.

“A lot of the area schools have gotten on board. They’re hauling mats, helping with tables and stuff like that,” Bible said. “The area is really pumped up about the meet. That’s good because they see how important it is, and they want to be a part of it.”

The tournament gives some area schools an opportunity they otherwise could not enjoy.

“A lot of schools don’t have the budget for out-of-state tournaments, but now they have one of the biggest in Baton Rouge right in their backyard,” Bible said. “Everyone wants to be a part of it.”

The Brusly High School wrestling coach has become synonymous with one of the most consistently successful programs in the state.

Bible offers a simple formula to the success of a program that captured the Division III state championship eight of the last nine years.

“Some say it’s because our division looks easy, but it’s easy because we do the right thing – we work,” he said. It’s all year long. Kids who buy in to it and wrestle during the summer see the benefits.

“ Some just want to be part of the team, but we take the kids who want to do well,” said Bible, now in his 13th season with the program.” The ones who are fairly new and don’t understand, we try to make them better and get them in line for a state championship.”

A strong support staff provides Bible a sense of comfort and confidence, even along the bumpy roads early in a season.

The cool and collective nature was nonexistent when he took over the BHS mat program.

“When I first got the job, I was scared to death,” Bible said. “I didn’t want the program to die or not flourish while I was there. 

“That was my biggest fear, but luckily I had a lot of help and support. I was able to get kids to come out and buy into the program,” he said. “We had a couple of lean years, but we had some success, rolled with it and it became the norm.”

On the surface, Bible’s description of his own wrestling career may seem surprising, based on his record as a coach.

“I didn’t win any state titles … I just wasn’t very good,” said Bible, with a slight laugh. “If I focused on it a little more I’d have been better, but I played basketball, so I went back and forth.”

It’s been tough getting kids to come out the last few years, but what we do have, we take the most advantage of it.

Bible said he has no desire to coach wrestling anywhere else – provided he maintains good assistants.

“I’m right where I want to be,” he said. “We have a good sports network. Me and Barrett have been at it so long. If he’d want to get away, I’d consider doing something else.”

After years of work with the program, Bible is fiercely protective of what he and his assistants have built. 

“Unless I could get someone in the school that I trust to take over the program, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said.

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