In a 2009 interview following Sunnyside High School‘s 12th straight state wrestling championship, head coach Bobby DeBerry let it be known that he had no plans to leave the Tucson school anytime soon.
That all changed this week when the coaching legend announced he was resigning.
DeBerry picked up two more state titles since that 2009 championship, upping the run to 14 straight and a total of 15 in the 17 years since he arrived at Sunnyside, following stops at several other Tucson high schools and then a short stint as an assistant at Pima Community College.
His arrival at Sunnyside didn’t mean the school was suddenly elevated to elite status on the mats. That had already happened.
The Blue Devils established their supremacy long ago. They won eight consecutive state championships in the ’80s under Don Klostreich, and then five straight to start the ’90s, led then by Richard Sanchez – who is now the school’s athletic director.
Sunnyside has more state titles than any other program in Arizona, with 29. The closest to that number is Winslow High, which has accumulated 11 – an impressive feat on its own.
However, DeBerry took the program to a whole new level when he arrived during the 1994-95 school year, building on the foundation that Sanchez built.
The former National Coach of the Year took a young, inexperienced team to the 2011 state title in his final campaign, but won the finals by just 11 points, which was the slimmest margin in the past decade.
But in the process, they broke the national record for longest streak of consecutive dual-match victories when they beat Rincon High and Tucson High in January.
Not only has DeBerry contributed to Sunnyside’s latest success from the coaching role, but he and his wife, Kathy, have also contributed some of the program’s best talent. Their older son, Kyle, was a four-time state champion during his reign from 2002-2006, and Kory built a national following by also snagging four state crowns and finished his senior season undefeated, with a 38-0 record in the 152 lb. division.
Kyle is already at Arizona State University, and younger brother Kory will be joining him for the coming season.
And their father/coach says that sending wrestling talent to ASU will be one of the avocations that will help him fill time during this period of his life. He wants to be an unofficial recruiter, to help stock the Sun Devil program with others like his own sons.
But DeBerry is quick to point out that he hasn’t retired – he’s just resigned. And will likely show up on a high school mat somewhere in Arizona on down the road.
But right now, he wants the time free to enjoy his family more. And watch his sons begin building their college careers.
Life is good right now for Bobby DeBerry… and for the ASU Sun Devils.