Scott Bliss spent just five seasons as head wrestling coach at Auburn High School (1992-93 through 1996-97), but he left an indelible mark.
Five seasons, four state trophies, five top-six finishes — including the Trojans’ only team championships, in 1994 and ’96.
But he will be remembered for for more in the wrestling community. Bliss died Dec. 12 in Othello, his home town, after a long illness. He was just 56.
I remember him as a passionate, caring coach, and I am not alone.
Bliss was the driving force in establishing the Dream Duals, bringing top teams in the state together to compete for a dual-meet championship (as opposed to the state-tournament format).
He also was a big advocate for girls wrestling and put together the state’s first all-girls high-school wrestling tournament at Auburn in 1994.
I reached out to a pair of Auburn administrators who knew Bliss well, and want to share their e-mail responses with you.
From Bob Jones, the school’s long-time athletic director:
“I’m deeply saddened at the passing of Scott Bliss. I was a brand new AD when Scott was hired. I had a lot of fun working with Scott and he had a great sense of humor so others had fun being around him. Scott was a mover and shaker. He got the Dream Duals started which many others had the ideas about but he was the one who got it started. Auburn High has only two state team boys titles and Scott led us to that. As I learned from Scott there wasn’t anything we couldn’t host or figure out how to present. I really learned how to run tournaments from Scott. From his days as a high school state champ at Othello, though his time at the University of Oregon, and then several different coaching jobs he was always contributing to the sport.”
From Kip Herren, Auburn School district superintendent and a former wrestling coach at Auburn High:
“I too was deeply saddened by the news of Scott’s passing. He was an outstanding coach and lifelong advocate for his student-athletes. My son, Dennis, was a state champion under Scott’s tutelage and he speaks often about how Scott elevated athlete belief in themselves. He was a fierce competitor, yet kind and compassionate to all who were fortunate to know him. He was a great ambassador for the sport as an athlete and a coach. You would never know that he was college coach of the year at Wyoming or the winningest wrestler in Oregon University history. He was without hubris always choosing to credit others for his achievements as a wrestler and coach. He was a friend.”
Bliss left Auburn to take over a storied program at Mead of Spokane when Cash Stone stepped down. He then retired after the 1999-2000 season.
He is especially well-remembered in Oregon, where he wrestled collegiately for the Ducks and became the school’s career leader in victories — a mark that stood when the program was cut after the 2008 season.
You can read more about him in a story that ran on The Oregonian’s “OregonLive” here.
And you can read an obituary the familiy submitted here.
Scott Bliss will be missed.