Toppling ivory towers: Wrestling coach Archie Hogan

Most Wilson students recognize Archie Hogan as the Wilson teacher who’s always socializing with students in the hall, but he is also the new head coach of the wrestling team and among the most beloved members of Wilson’s staff.

Hogan, or simply “Archie,” as everyone at Wilson calls him, was born in DC, but spent most of his childhood outside of the U.S. His father was a diplomat and his mother worked in international development, so Hogan grew up in West Africa and western Europe. Hogan’s background exposed him to many different languages besides English, such as Farsi, Krio, Shona, and Ndebele.

Hogan has been familiar with wrestling since day one. “I’ve been wrestling ever since I could walk… wrestling is an important part of Iranian culture.”

Hogan attended Timpanogos High School, one of the best wrestling public schools in the country, in Orem, Utah. He was coached by Kelly and Steve Sanderson, the uncle and father of Cael Sanderson, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. His teammates included several future NCAA All-Americans and U.S. National Team members and Olympians. Naturally, he spent his high-school years on a very competitive wrestling team. Being around some of the best wrestlers in the country at all times, as well as training with them, pushed him to keep up and be as competitive as possible.

“I lucked out in that the high school that I was supposed to go to based on where I lived was one of the best wrestling programs in the nation,” he said.
Hogan planned on continuing his wrestling career after high school, committing to Brigham Young University (BYU) on an academic scholarship. BYU cut their wrestling program right after he decided to go there, but Hogan still went, as he was already living in Utah and his scholarship made it an affordable, quality education. While getting his degree in philosophy, Hogan still wanted to wrestle, so he participated in open tournaments, and competed with several independent wrestling clubs.

After college, Hogan transitioned towards mixed martial arts for seven years and was able to pick it up easily thanks to his wrestling experience. Hogan no longer wrestles seriously today, but he still competes on the mats annually.
“I’ll still do one ‘old-mans’ tournament a year if the kids really want me to,” Hogan explained.

After school, Hogan worked in international development, taught for Upward Bound, a college placement program, and went back to school at The College of William & Mary for his graduate studies. After graduate school, Hogan worked for several NGOs that do criminal defense for juveniles, and he continues to do that today. Hogan found Wilson because he was living in DC at the time and he was looking to get back into teaching, and Wilson offered him an opportunity to teach street law.

“Working with kids just happened—it wasn’t planned,” he said.
Once at Wilson, Hogan reached out to Dean Brandon Wims, who brought back to wrestling team in 2013 after a long hiatus. Hogan has been a coach ever since, and he loves it. Wilson is the only DCPS high school with a wrestling team, and the roster has had 17 different nationalities represented. That diversity and openness are what he wants any prospective team member to know about the team. There are 14 different weight classes and they are always looking to expand the team, as anyone is welcome to give wrestling a shot. Hogan finds the experience quite rewarding.

“Wrestling is a way for us to compete against the well-funded private schools, so it’s like a class war every wrestling match. I enjoy the challenge that coaching at Wilson presents because we don’t have a wrestling room, too much support. It’s fun to go into these ‘ivory towers’ and knock them down,” he said.

Since Hogan has been at Wilson, the team has beaten every team in the city except for St. John’s, crowned four DC state champions, and garnered two All-Met honorable mentions.
On top of coaching Wilson, Hogan also coached Hardy Middle School’s new wrestling team last year. Hogan has been able to create meaningful relationships with many of the kids on the Wilson team.

“I enjoy watching kids progress through the program, watching kids grow, and their personalities emerge, and how they’ll push themselves through the pain of wrestling and how it teaches them to push themselves through the rest of life,” Hogan said. “It’s fun for me to help them get something out of it all.”
This wrestling season, Hogan hopes to draw bigger crowds at the team’s events. Among future big competitions for the wrestling team, Wilson is hosting Bullis School at 4:30 p.m. on December 19 and Melee On The Metro IV, a 32-team tournament, on February 8-9.