By: Chuck Pleiness, Macomb Daily
Not a lot has changed with Jim Morisette, even though he said he's mellowed a bit.
"It depends what the score of the match is and how we perceive how things are going," Anchor Bay assistant wrestling coach Al Biland said of Morisette's proclamation. "We'll leave it at that, but not a lot has changed.
"Coach Morisette was the one with the cowboy hat, cowboy boots and varsity jacket and stomped into the school ready to go after you," Biland added.
Truly nothing has changed -- minus the cowboy hat, cowboy boots and varsity jacket -- with Morisette, who joined an elite club on Thursday night after his Tars beat Chippewa Valley, 46-23, in a MAC Red Division dual meet.
The win was the 700th of his varsity coaching career.
"I've been so blessed by this community, this school district and by having all the best coaches, said Morisette, an Anchor Bay graduate. "I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I'm the one getting all the accolades, but good leaders surround themselves with the best people and I kind of fell into a bucket full of them. It's been a hell of a ride.
"The older you get, things start bothering you, your age, your knees, I can't do the techniques the way I used to," Morisette added. "I've got all my younger coaches and alumni coming in and helping out. I'm so blessed."
Morisette began his high school wrestling coaching career as an assistant under Larry Walters at Mount Clemens. He then landed the head coaching job at Algonac when he inherited a team that had Biland, his long-time assistant, on it.
"He was the best kind of coach I could have asked for and really it was because of the motivational and fear factor," Biland said. "He made me tougher and made me believe. That's what I needed.
"I had been wrestling for a long time and I didn't necessarily need somebody that could show me the basics," Biland continued. "He knew the basics and could show them well, but I needed to a guy that could get in my head and make me believe I could beat anybody and quite frankly he did. I went from not placing in the state meet my first two years and in my junior year I'm in the state finals."
Biland, the first four-time individual champ at the Macomb County Invitational Classic, didn't place at states his first two years. Under Morisette's guidance he finished runner-up and then went undefeated as a senior to win a state championship.
"He mentioned that wrestler's name to me Sunday," said Biland, who lost to Muskegon Orchard-View's Jimmie White in the Class B 119-pound title match in 1986. "That'll never go away. He had me ready to go. I was winning 4-0 and I screwed up myself. I wasn't thinking right and maybe not believing in me the way he was. The next year I won it and never got beat by anybody.
"He got me mentally and physically ready to beat anybody in the state," added Biland, who won the 130-pound Class B state championship in 1987 after beating Dexter's Jim Feldkamp.
Morisette stayed at Algonac till 1989 and then took over at Anchor Bay in 1991 where he's been ever since.
"I was a hot head, hell bent on winning," Morisette said. "It was the only thing in my blood. I've learned so much more. I've had so many ups and downs, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.
"I've mellowed and have learned to appreciate life more," Morisette added. "I love my kids. I always have."
Morisette sits ninth all-time on the list of winningest wrestling coaches in the state and is number one for wins among coaches in Macomb County.
He's guided teams to 20 division championships, 17 team district titles, four regional championships and has one team reach the state semifinals. He's coached five individual state champs, 51 state placers and 154 state qualifiers.
"My wife (Janet) keeps giving me the blessing to do it," Morisette said. "The end of my coaching career is imminent. I haven't made a decision yet. I just want to make sure the program is in good shape.
"I'm still having fun," Morisette continued. "I may have carried the program for a number of years early on, but right now my coaches and my kids are carrying me. It's come full circle."
Biland, who will call it a coaching career after this season, thinks Morisette has a few more years left in him.
"I'm going to miss him to death," Biland said. "I wish him the greatest success and I hope he hits 800. I talk to him about hitting 900, but he's fighting me on it."