11John DeWeese Jack BrittA fitting cap to the wrestling career of former Jack Britt coach John DeWeese occurred this past weekend when he was inducted into the North Carolina chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame based in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

DeWeese’s nomination was pushed by some old friends in the North Carolina wrestling world, former UNC-Pembroke wrestling coach P.J. Smith and his longtime coaching partner when the two were at Seventy-First, current Pine Forest principal David Culbreth.

“You don’t realize after 28 or 29 years of coaching wrestling all the impacts you have,’’ said DeWeese, who, though he’s retired from coaching, still teaches earth science at Jack Britt High School. “I still get calls from my first wrestlers. They have kids and want to know what to do with them when they’re wrestling.”

He enjoys bumping into his former wrestlers when he’s around Fayetteville shopping. He still helps out in the wrestling program at Jack Britt, mainly with the operation of the annual tournament he founded, the Boneyard Bash. But other than that, he’s tried to deliberately stay away from frequent visits to the Buccaneer wrestling room.

“I think I’ve been in there three times,’’ he said. He said he learned a valuable lesson from Culbreth, who was supposed to be the first wrestling coach at Jack Britt after leaving Seventy-First, but literally walked away from the job to enter the business world before deciding to return to education some years later.

“I didn’t realize how much that would help me,’’ DeWeese said. “It helped me understand this is my job and what I need to do.’’

DeWeese literally got into the sport as a favor to a former wrestler. He was at Lewis Chapel Junior High when the previous wrestling coach unexpectedly stepped down. The late J.C. Hawk, who went on to win a state title at Seventy-First, came to DeWeese and pleaded with him to take over as coach, even though he knew nothing about wrestling

DeWeese said Hawk promised to teach him all he knew about wrestling, and DeWeese ordered some VHS instructional tapes to get an understanding of the sport. 

“I wore them out trying to get an understanding of what to teach a bunch of kids,’’ DeWeese said.

DeWeese went on to win 13 conference titles and only lose three home conference matches in 17 seasons as Britt’s wrestling coach.

His crowning moment came in 2015, when the Buccaneers won the 4-A state dual team championship in a match held on Jack Britt’s home court.

Although he won that state title and crowned multiple individual state champions during his career, DeWeese points to an accomplishment from the academic realm that remains his proudest achievement.

“I had three kids at West Point,’’ he said, referring to three of his wrestlers who attended the United States Military Academy.

The trio included Spencer Nick and brothers Andrew and Brad Wanovich. A third brother, Kevin Wanovich, is still enrolled at Britt and could become the fourth wrestler once coached by DeWeese to attend the military academy.

“I think they learned a lot and we put them in a position to be good leaders,’’ DeWeese said.

Looking back, DeWeese said his goal as a wrestling coach was pretty simple. “I never went into anything if I didn’t want to do it,’’ he said. “If I’m in it, I’m in it to win it, and win it as ethically correct as possible.

Photo: John DeWeese

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