Dan Chaid earned a bachelor's degree in radio and TV communication at the University of Oklahoma, but for the past eight years, the native Californian has taught high school history classes in Santa Clara, Calif.
"History was more of an interest," he said. "When I got back to California, I wanted to do something more consistent and have the opportunity to coach. That's why I chose education."
In the past year, however, Chaid has himself helped make history, as a coach of the California Claw in Real Pro Wrestling's groundbreaking season.
Chaid's roots are deep in the Golden State and in wrestling. He grew up in San Jose, where his dad coached high school wrestling and football. By age 10, Chaid joined a kids wrestling program. By the time he graduated from high school, he'd earned a third-place finish as a sophomore and championships as a junior and as a senior in a state tournament with a just one division.
Topping off his high school honors, he won the 1980 Greco-Roman Junior National Championship at 178 pounds.
By age 16, he'd also begun training at Stanford University with brothers (and eventual Olympic champions) Dave and Mark Schultz.
"They were the ones who gave me an edge in high school," Chaid said. "After wrestling with them, other high school kids just don't measure up."
He followed his mentors to the University of Oklahoma, where Chaid became a four-time NCAA Division I All-American, gaining the 190-pound title his junior year.
Following graduation, Chaid spent a year at Arizona State University, wrestling with the Sunkist Kids and serving as assistant coach to Bobby Douglas, now coach of the Iowa State University Cyclones and of RPW's Chicago Groove.
"I learned so much in that year," Chaid said. "He's such a great coach."
Then came the opportunity to work with the Schultzes and Team Foxcatcher in Pennsylvania. During his nine years on the team, Chaid won a senior national championship in freestyle and thirds in the nationals and in the Concord International Championships in Greco-Roman competition.
"I wrestled a lot of Greco at the senior level, but it was frustrating because I wasn't specializing," Chaid said. "I really enjoyed Greco-Roman. I like to throw, and some of the techniques were my favorites in wrestling.
"(RPW) rules still favor freestyle because of the ability to attack legs," he said. "If you specialize (in Greco-Roman wrestling) over a period of time, you lose the instinct to defend leg attacks -- it's that neurological programming. And that's how a lot of guys make their living, defending leg attacks."
For the past 10 years, Chaid, 42, has been back in his home state, where he assisted then-Stanford coach Chris Horpel for five years while earning teaching credentials and a master's degree in cross-cultural education.
"It's assessing kids with a lot of different backgrounds and needs and educating them accordingly, which is very important here in California," Chaid said. "I stepped down (from Stanford) for the high school position."
Though he will continue to teach at Wilcox High School, Chaid has resigned his position as wrestling coach after building what he called "a consistently healthy program." Last season the team placed third in the league, finished 20th of about 180 schools in the section and sent one qualifier to state.
He also coached the Claw; volunteered to serve with Joe Seay on the coaching staff for the United States' national team at a major tournament in Cuba; and continued his decade-long association with the Dave Schultz Wrestling Club.
"I feel really honored to have worked with this program for the last 10 years," he said, citing name after name of outstanding wrestlers who had been involved with the club. "My time with the Dave Schultz Wrestling Club has been one of the most rewarding in my life as a wrestler and as a coach."
Chaid said he plans to use his time working with other area programs and with Daniel, 11, and Mark, 6, sons of Chaid and his wife, Theresa.
But that's only if the boys want to wrestle, Chaid stressed.
"Daniel's involved in soccer, judo and cross country, and he plans to wrestle in middle school," he said. "I'm letting him go to it if he wants to. Wrestling is such a tough sport; you've got to really want to do it. I want him to be able to pick what he likes and what will keep him motivated."
In fact, Chaid said, motivation is the key for any wrestler, no matter what the age. "I like to work with kids who are motivated and give it their all," he said.
"I have so much respect for the guys we have on the California Claw, guys like Garrett Lowney and Dennis Hall, and I was so excited about what they could do. I got to work with great guys and the talent base of the Claw. That's a great group of athletes.
"I liked the professional way Real Pro Wrestling was handled and the way everybody treated the coaches," Chaid said. "It's just great competition, getting all the best guys competing for real prizes."