Tigers’ Mike Carey named 3A coach of the year

After leading Fred T. Foard to a 3A state wrestling title, the Tigers’ coach is being rewarded for his efforts.

Mike Carey, coach of the Foard wrestling program since 2008, was named the North Carolina 3A wrestling coach of the year by Mat News. The announcement came earlier this week.

“It’s the ‘cherry on top’ to our good season,” Carey said of the honor. “This is a product of all the work the boys did. It was their work. This is another way to honor them.”

Last season capped an amazing comeback for the Tigers’ program. Foard won the Northwestern Conference regular season and tournament championships.

Foard also won the Western 3A Regional Tournament championship.

“We’ve gotten after it the last couple of years,” Carey said. “We’re ready to crank it up here very shortly and try to do it all over again.”

The achievements the Tigers earned last season were part of a slow and steady progression.

In Carey’s first season, the Tigers were 17-13 overall, including 6-3 in the Northwestern Conference.

One season later in 2009, the Tigers finished 5-1 in the Northwestern Conference, earning them the title of co-conference champions. It was the school’s first conference title. The team finished the season with a 26-7 record.

Carey believed his team’s accomplishments all boiled down to a couple of factors.

“I know it’s the guys that believed in the message we were teaching all the way from my first year to my third year,” Carey said. “It is because of their belief and putting their mind to something wholeheartedly that we had so much success.”

Carey’s program has experienced individual success, as well. Before he took over in 2008, only seven individual wrestlers qualified for state tournament.

Since then, nine Foard wrestlers have qualified for the tournament.

“It comes down to a select group of kids at our school that do what you ask of them,” Carey said. “They are willing to work on their own in the offseason. That commitment level is unrivaled at our school and in our community. We were fortunate enough to be state champs and that is because of their commitment level.”

A 1997 graduate of Appalachian State and 2009 graduate of Emporia State, Carey holds a 183-32 record as a wrestling coach, including 114-6 career conference record.

At Foard, Carey is 72-22 overall and 17-4 in conference matches.

Carey spent nine seasons from 1999-2007 as the head coach of the Newton-Conover Middle School program and assistant coach to the varsity program at Newton-Conover High School.

Joining Carey as coaches of the year are West Wilkes’ Brian Brown (1A), Croatan’s David Perry (2A) and Parkland’s Maurice Atwood (4A).