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Brains and braun

Former wrestling national champion Kendric Maple is returning to his alma mater to coach while he pursues his master’s degree.

Former Oklahoma wrestler Kendric Maple will take on a new role for the Sooners this fall, as a volunteer assistant coach.

Kendric Maple, the University of Oklahoma’s new volunteer assistant wrestling coach, is no stranger to hard work. The former wrestling student-athlete graduated from Oklahoma in 2014 with more than 15 academic and athletic awards, including a 2013 NCAA championship.

Maple first became interested in coaching at camps run by current Sooners wrestling head coach, Mark Cody. The camps provided Maple his first opportunity to work with younger wrestlers, teaching them skills on and off the mat.

After working those camps, Maple began to spread the word that he was interested in launching his own coaching career. At least two other schools invited him to join their wrestling staff, but he ultimately decided to stick with the coach he knew best.

“I believe whole-heartedly in the system Coach Cody has in place,” said Maple. “I know that it's a recipe for success and I would love to have him as a mentor through my whole coaching career. He wants to build me as a coach and show me the ins and outs of the business.”

Maple’s mentor has an impressive résumé. During his career, Cody has amassed 23 conference titles, seven national championships and has coached more than 65 individual national championships. Cody’s 2011 Oklahoma team posted a 3.48 grade-point average – a school record – and 22 wrestlers under his guidance have earned Academic All-America honors. Maple, an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, was drawn to Cody‘s coaching style because his emphasis on academics and family mirrored the values stressed to him at home.

“My dad was always making me do extra studying and that became a foundation for when I got to college and all the way through my senior year," Maple said. “From very early on it was instilled in me that academics are important, college was the way to go and that it is vital to learn and become educated.”

Maple earned a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science and vows not let his appreciation for education waiver in his new role. The first year coach, currently pursuing a master’s in higher education with a concentration in athletic administration, plans to instill the same values in his student-athletes.

“Academically, off the mat in your everyday life, we want to build character and great men for society,” he said. “We want them to be successful for the future.”