Ex-Snake River coach inducted into wrestling hall of fame
MORELAND — In a career that includes induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Idaho Chapter, last Saturday, Laron Hansen is most proud of the effect he has had upon others.
"I get more joy and satisfaction from my wrestlers living honorable lives," said Hansen as he sat in the living room of his farm home before attending that induction ceremony.
Hansen, a state champion at Teton High School and an All-American at BYU, coached teams from Preston and Snake River to team championships. Along the way he influenced the lives of hundreds of young men.
A humble man who had to pull his trophies out of storage for display at the induction ceremonies, he expressed his greatest pride in the sportsman of the year trophy he received in 1969.
"I'm most proud of that attitude and sportsmanship trophy," he said.
Don't misunderstand. Hansen has great pride in his other accomplishments.
"Coach (Fred) Davis told me he had recruited better kids," Hansen said of his recruitment to BYU. "That was how he explained why he didn't give me a full-ride scholarship. He said a kid from Idaho wouldn't place fourth in the Oklahoma state tournament."
Hansen recalled a state champion from Oklahoma at Hansen's weight the coach was particularly proud of landing. "I think he wrestled varsity one time in four years."
In the meantime, Hansen earned Western Athletic Conference Outstanding Wrestler, conference championship and All-America honors. He was part of the Cougars' fourth-place NCAA team, the highest ranking it achieved in its history.
One of his All-American years, Hansen joined three of his brothers in that achievement. Six Hansen brothers wrestled for BYU during that era.
In 1986 Hansen was inducted into the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame, joining his brother Brad. With his induction into the National Hall of Fame, he joined his brother Mike as a member of that august group. He also joined their high school coach, Alvin Daley.
Following his collegiate career, Hansen served an LDS Church mission — to Oklahoma. He married his wife Beverly in 1975 and they raised Adam and Lara (Chatterton). They have four grandchildren.
Hansen began his coaching career in Preston. In his first year the Indians had the first two state champions in their history. The team finished fourth. Over the next four years the team placed third in state twice, was runner-up once and won a state title.
While at Preston, he took six of his team members to Iran.
"I didn't plan on going, but parents said, 'you go or they don't.'"
Raised on a farm, he eventually felt the call of the soil and moved to Bingham County where he and Beverly bought a farm west of Blackfoot. They still live there.
After coaching at Blackfoot's junior high for three years, Hansen moved to Snake River and served as an assistant under the legendary "Coach Willie (Keith Williams) for four years.
He then took over the wrestling program and directed it for seven years. The Panthers won four state championships under his direction.
"I really loved Coach Willie," Hansen said. "He taught me a lot about motivating the boys."
Hansen laughed when he recalled that none of the brothers were looked upon as great physical specimens.
"Dad made sure we knew how to work," he told Lee Benson of Salt Lake City's Deseret News back during his collegiate days. "I guess that's ourgreatest attribute, you know. We're not real skilled."
But, he said on Saturday, they all worked hard on learning the proper techniques to be successful.
"It's a great honor," Hansen said of his induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. "I've had a great life with great wrestlers. I've been pretty lucky."
He, Idaho State coach Tom Jewell and Tim Matthews of Jerome received "Lifetime Service Awards." Bryan Huntsman of Shelley received an "Outstanding American Award" and Lucas Lish of Marsh Valley High School received a Medal of Courage Award.