Pat Burch, who coached a college national championship team in 1993 and joined the Zimmerman faculty in 1994, is the new Thunder wrestling coach this year.
A physical education teacher, Burch is also the ZHS archery club team’s coach, and freshman baseball coach.
After a long absence from wrestling, he joined the staff as an assistant last year. He becomes the fourth head coach in the last five years at ZHS.
“The sport of wrestling provides meaningful life lessons in determination, commitment, dedication and perseverance,” said Burch. “I will do my best to support the academic and athletic pursuits of the children of Zimmerman as they prepare themselves for the future.”
Burch was captain of the Blaine wrestling team in the late 1980’s. A late starter (10th grade), his best finish was third in the section as a senior.
However, at Northwestern College of St. Paul, he was an NCCAA (small-college) national runner-up twice.
Soon after, Burch was Northwestern’s coach for two seasons, and in his second season, his team won nationals in Pennsylvania in 1993. He was voted NCCAA coach of the year by his peers.
“I really enjoyed coaching at the college level,” said Burch. “I made many connections and coached against some greats like Olympic gold and silver medalists Ben and Jon Peterson.”
After the 1993 season he made the “difficult decision” to step down from the coaching job and enter the teaching field.
After one year of sub teaching and serving as an assistant wrestling coach at Blaine, he took a PE job with Zimmerman Elementary. When the middle school/high school opened in 1999 he moved to that building.