As he managed the Patterson High varsity wrestling lineup, coaching athletes on takedowns and breakdowns, he was absent from the youth wrestling practices and school recitals of his three youngest children.
Citing a desire to spend more time with his family, Scoles stepped down at the end of the 2012-13 campaign as the head wrestling coach at Patterson after eight seasons leading the Tigers and more than 30 seasons in all.
“Coaching can be physically and emotionally taxing on a family. I’m ready to let someone else do it,” Scoles said. “I want to spend more time with my wife. I want to be a full-time dad. I’m honestly quite ready to do that.”
The 62-year-old started as an assistant coach in 1976 under head coach Mike Worley.
A former three-sport athlete at Patterson High, Scoles graduated in 1970 and continued to wrestle while serving in the U.S. Navy from 1971 to 1975.
Under Worley’s tutelage, he became interested in teaching sports to local students.
“(Worley) reinforced the things that my dad taught me — work harder than your opponent and never give up,” Scoles said. “If you don’t quit, you will always have the chance to succeed.”
Scoles was part of the coaching staff with Worley that guided the Patterson Tigers to a 169-19 overall record between 1980 and 1990. During that period, the school achieved eight team league championships, a Sac-Joaquin Subsection team championship (1987) and a Sac-Joaquin Section team title (1988).
When Worley retired after 20 seasons in 1992 , Scoles was named his successor.
“You have lots of friends, but you don’t always admire them,” Scoles said. “(Worley) was well-respected. He had a basic, blue-collar work ethic. He was a mentor to me, and he helped pass along the values that my teams have stood for — family, school and wrestling.”
Scoles took control of the squad at Patterson High in 1992 after 16 seasons as an assistant coach, but work obligations forced him to step back down a year later.
He assisted four head coaches from 1993 to 1997.
“As an assistant, you end up getting back to doing more teaching,” Scoles said. “You’re getting into the nuts and bolts of the sport, and you’re trying to help these kids any way that you can.”
At the end of the 1997 campaign, Scoles left coaching to be more involved with his three oldest children.
“With this job, you have to schedule a lot of tournaments on weekends, which means not always being there to watch over your children,” Scoles said. “My commitment to my family came first.”
Scoles returned to coaching as an assistant at Patterson in 2003.
He became head coach in 2008 and oversaw seven of the next eight varsity squads. Brother Gary Scoles served as head coach during the 2010-11 season.
Lee Scoles credits his wife of eight years, Malena Scoles, for helping with the necessary but often unnoticed work behind the scenes at prep sporting events.
He is the father of six children: Tori, 36, Cyrise, 33, E.J., 28, Sergio, 13, Leeangely , 6, and Kaylee, 4.
“Parenting is the most important thing for me right now,” Scoles said. “I’ll still be around the wrestling room, but the majority of my free time will now be spent working on homework with my children and taking them to the park.”
He has worked for the city of Patterson Code Enforcement Division — a position he will retain — since 2003.
Scoles said he will remember student-athletes and coaches, rather than wins and losses, when he looks back on his coaching career at his alma mater.
“This sport presents an intimacy that is tough to get anywhere else,” Scoles said. “It’s an intense sport that builds strong relationships. People who have competed as wrestlers will naturally remain drawn to it.”
Patterson High principal Dave Stubbs and the school’s athletic director Dave Klein will soon begin the process of hiring a successor, Scoles said.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.