On July 1, 2022, the University of Missouri announced Keenan Hagerty as the new Director of Operations for the Tiger Style wrestling team.
“Keenan Hagerty joins the Tigers program after serving as both the men’s and women’s wrestling head coach at William Jewell where he was tasked with starting a women’s program while revitalizing the men’s program after a 27-year hiatus.” Per the Mizzou Wrestling page
After reaching out to Mizzou’s recent hire, Keenan took the time to sit down and talk with me via Zoom to discuss his new role with the wrestling team and a little about himself.
Opening the discussion, I had to mention the fact that we had crossed paths in prior years during our times in youth wrestling. We also had common close friends that both he and I knew growing up. Then to add another interesting bit, there was the possibility that we had matched up against one another during our time in kids wrestling.
There was a match where the opponent grabbed my arm over the top of his shoulder and flipped me in the air straight to my back. Needless to say, I did not win that match and whether it was Keenan or another kid that I wrestled, it is a memory that I will never forget!
Let’s get to it!
Matthew Smith: How did the Mizzou job present itself to you, did they reach out to you or did you contact them?
Keenan Hagerty: My dad (Mike Hagerty) works with Dom Bradley, assistant coach here at Mizzou, so he is down here in Columbia quite a bit. He has become pretty close with Coach Smith and the coaching staff. We were having a conversation one day about the program at William Jewell and then shifted to some things going on at Mizzou. He mentioned this position and I was interested in what exactly a Director of Operations does, and what the role is. Later that evening, Coach Smith gave me a call and explained more about it. After that, I was able to spend time with other assistant coaches and it was a great opportunity for me to step into Tiger Style wrestling.
MS: Are you behind the scenes or do you get to do any hands-on technique in the wrestling room?
KH: I do outside of the official season, during the off-season and RTC practices and freestyle practices I can be in there working with the team. Once the season starts, as far as the rules are right now, I won’t be able to do any team practices, coaching on the bench, or anything like that.
MS: So you get to help set for dual and scheduling?
KH: Not necessarily, that more so for the gameday/event staff coordinators. One of the biggest tasks that I have is team travel, getting everything set up whether it’s airlines, charters, hotels, rental cars, meals, planning, prepping, any recruits that come to campus, and making sure that that goes smoothly. Matt Manley was in the position prior to me joining the staff and started the podcast for Mizzou wrestling and that is something that I will take over and get going again here soon.
MS: Have you had a chance to meet much of the team yet?
KH: Pretty much everybody, but there’s a few I haven’t seen on campus yet. I have been around most of them though and they have welcomed me with open arms.
MS: (Jumping back to his time at William Jewell) When you started at William Jewell, was the program already there, or did you revitalize the program and start it yourself?
KH: They didn’t have anything, as far as wrestling goes I came in with a completely blank slate. They had a few records but were missing quite a bit. The last time they had wrestling on campus was 1993 and it wasn’t much of a program at that point, things had kind of faded out. I was tasked with rebuilding the men’s program and starting the women’s program from the ground up. I spent a whole year recruiting and the second year at Jewell was the first year of the program so last season, 21-22, was the first year of the program in 28 years.
MS: You mention recruiting, do you get to do any recruiting at Mizzou other than making sure visits go smooth?
KH: Not really, that’s more so for Coach Smith and the rest of the coaching staff. Definitely, something I’m going to miss is building relationships before they step on campus, along with being on the mat and coaching. Hopefully, the rules change and I’m allowed to do those things in the future or as much as the staff would like for me to do.
MS: Do you have any hobbies outside of wrestling?
KH: My family, Emily, and Harlow, like to explore. We have gone to listen to live music around the area, and tried a few new coffee shops, and different restaurants. I also enjoy spending time with the other coaches; we play cornhole quite a bit. Anything that is competitive, I may not be good at it but I love to compete!
MS: You mentioned your family, tell us a little about them.
KH: My girlfriend, Emily, and our daughter, Harlow, who is 7 months old. Emily does a great job, she makes it that much easier, I couldn’t do what I do without her.
MS: Any updates on scheduling or release dates coming anytime soon?
KH: The schedule will be released soon, there are a few things that need to get corrected that conflict with other events on campus. As far as the season, we kick off at home against Lindenwood on Sunday, November 6, and we will be having that on the softball field so we are trying to finalize that. The second event will be in Kansas City at Staley High School, the first annual Tiger Style Invite. It will be a great tournament with six division one programs such as Cal Pol, Drexel, Illinois, Little Rock, Maryland, and Missouri. It will be a good event with some good competition early on to start the season.
MS: You spent time as a wrestler in college, expand on that a little.
KH: I wrestled at Maryville University in St. Louis for Coach Mike Denney, who has been around the sport forever, a legend in the sport. He’s been in division two for probably close to forty-five years now, he’s coached a total of fifty-four, maybe closer to fifty-five seasons but long-time head coach at University of Nebraska at Omaha. He won I think seven national championships there and then started the program at Maryville University in 2011. My first year at Maryville was the first year that they had wrestling. It was actually the first year that they were eligible to compete in division two, they made the jump from division three. I ended up being the first All-American in NCAA division two history for them and a national finalist that year and the following year, a teammate of mine, was the first national champion so we had a finalist and champion in the first two years of the program. The third year there we took third in the country as a team so things were moving pretty quick.
MS: Are things still pretty crazy with moving and learning the new job?
KH: Yeah, as far as the move goes, we are pretty much settled in here. Still have some unboxing to do but as far as the job goes, still getting past the paperwork, modules, and training. We have started to dive into things and work on more of the program tasks, like travel planning. Coach Smith is about to do some recruiting trips and has been getting everything squared away for those trips.
MS: Have you had an opportunity to get on the mats yet with some of the team?
KH: I have rolled around a little bit. I am trying to take advantage of the time I do have with the way the rules are right now. I have jumped in with a few of the starters and some of the other guys. Everyone in that room is tough, all the way down the depth chart.