Before he was an administrator in the Auburn School District, Kip Herren left a legacy in the mat room.
And Herren, who guided Auburn High School’s wrestling program from 1978-90, will be recognized for those accomplishments when he is inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. The hall’s Washington Chapter honors Herren at 3 p.m. March 19 at the Red Lion Hotel in Olympia.
Jim Ball, Rick Bowers, Paul Jackson, Dick Muri, Gaylor Strand, Tom Sewell, Rich Tschirgi, Dick Wooding, and the late Jace Malek and Donald Walley also will be honored.
“I see it as a great honor to receive that recognition from our state and nation,” said Herren, who was ASD’s superintendent from 2007-14. “Wrestling has been a great vehicle to develop young men, and now women. I’m honored to be part of that process.”
During his tenure, the Trojans twice were recognized as state academic champions – they also placed in the top three at state both years. Auburn later won team state championships in 1994 and ’96 when he was the school’s principal. One of those state champions was his son, Dennis Herren, who captured the title as a 178-pounder in 1994. The younger Herren now is the Trojans’ wrestling coach.
“I count more than 24 student-athletes that I worked with that became coaches themselves,” said Kip Herren, who was the state’s AAA Coach of the Year in 1986. “We produced not just excellence on the mat, but citizens, as well.”
Along with that, Herren said some of his most significant contributions to the sport included the addition of a second entry weight class and serving on a committee that in 1988 launched the Mat Classic at the Tacoma Dome, where the 23,000-seat facility often is filled with families.
For Herren, that sense of family extended to the Auburn community.
“I think the Hall of Fame should really be the Hall of Family,” he said.
“I was the person that benefited from those experiences the most. I appreciate everyone that supported me throughout those years.”
Herren said none of it would have been possible without his wife, Julie. When the couple was living in Wenatchee, Herren frequently traveled to national wrestling tournaments. While he was away, Herren said, she submitted his portfolio for the opening at Auburn.
“When I came home, she said, ‘You’ve got an interview in Auburn,’ ” Herren said. “She wanted me to focus on the high school community.”
He remains grateful for his wife’s decision because, he said, it enabled him to make an impact on children, as well as the attitudes on others in education.
“I’m pleased that other kids got those opportunities,” Herren said. “I was able to help people realize that being involved in athletics and activities are the best things that can happen to kids.”
Herren, a childhood polio victim, wrestled in high school in California and at San Francisco State University.