Steve Techam is no stranger to awards and honors. After being involved in high school wrestling since the 1970s, the Deer Creek resident is set to be inducted into the Minnesota chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame April 24, 2021.
Techam's passion for wrestling started when he wrestled for Hopkins High School in the 1960s under National Hall of Fame coach Paul Bengston. At the University of Minnesota, where Techam attended college, he participated in intramural wrestling tournaments before graduating from Bemidji State College in 1968 with a social studies degree.
The following year, Techam was hired by the Verndale School District to teach junior high school social studies. When he started teaching, there was no wrestling program in Verndale. He sought to change that, and introduced wrestling to Verndale.
"We had a group of boys - 10 sophomores - that wanted to wrestle, and we went to the school board and asked, and they said 'yes,'" Techam recalls.
He was head coach of the Verndale Pirates until the school paired with Bertha-Hewitt in 1980, and he coached the consolidated team until he retired from coaching in 2007.
Even after retirement, however, he couldn't stay away. He returned in 2013-2014 to coach the BHV Raiders, leading them to the state wrestling tournament before retiring for good. His career coaching record is an impressive 400-178-8.
Techam's involvement in wrestling went beyond coaching, however. He also served as a Section 6A Coaches Representative to the Minnesota State High School League from 1990 to 2010. He began in 2000 and continues to serve as the coordinator for the Section 6A wrestling tournament. This role includes hiring officials for tournaments, answering coaches' questions, and taking suggestions on how to run better tournaments, which he then brings to members of the section committee.
In 2002, Techam helped coach Minnesota high school wrestlers in the former Minnesota vs Wisconsin All-Star Wrestling Classic. Starting in 2001, he also served as a chaperone for Minnesota wrestlers who traveled to Virginia Beach for the National High School Coaches Association tournament, which usually includes about 6,000 wrestlers from around the country and from Europe. He has attended the tournament for the past 19 years; 2020 was supposed to be his 20th year, but it was canceled because of COVID.
Techam was inducted into the Dave Bartelma-Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005. Other honors he has received include Park Region Conference "Coach of the Year," which he received in 1983-1985, 1987, 1997-1998, 2000-2003, and 2007. He was also named Section 6A "Coach of the Year" in 1999, 2000, and 2001. He was named State Class A "Coach of the Year" in 2001, and his team took second at state that same year. He even served on the Wadena-Deer Creek School Board.
Techam says wrestling is like a family, and his family has also been very involved in wrestling. His wife of 53 years, Kathy, served as a scorekeeper for the team. His daughter, Lori, also helped with scorekeeping, and his other daughter, Melissa, was a wrestling cheerleader. His granddaughter, Olivia, also attended a number of matches, cheering on her grandpa.
While wrestling is his passion, he and Kathy also love to travel and have been to all 50 states. In fact, for their 50th wedding anniversary, they traveled to their 50th state, Hawaii. Techam has also been to Alaska 14 times because he loves the fishing there.
Despite all of his wrestling awards, Techam's greatest reward has been seeing the success of his wrestlers. Marshall Rach, Jake Oyster, Casey Finck, and Zach Lambert all won state championships. Steve Carlson because a National Junior College National Champion. Bill Wagner, Joe Kern, and Oyster all became head wrestling coaches. Seeing their success and forming lasting relationships with his wrestlers is better than awards in Techam's view. He continues to drive the wrestling buses to their events, which allows him to stay involved and connected with the sport he loves.