They are the only husband-wife high school coaching tandem known in the state of Texas, and both being head coaches seems to only create synergy — not competition.
Chris and Monica Allen are the boys and girls head wrestling coaches, respectively, at Azle, and the duo has worked out well for the program since their move from Amarillo ISD’s Caprock in 2007.
Technically, Monica has been the official head girls coach since 2014, but she had been a volunteer for the wrestling program until that point. She was an assistant coach in volleyball and basketball prior to the ability of the school district to allocate funds for a separate head wrestling coach.
But Azle is sure glad it did.
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In 2012, with Monica as the volunteer girls coach, the Lady Hornets brought home a team state championship.
With Chris having coached five state title teams at Caprock, he felt the program was definitely going in the right direction.
Also, the Azle boys captured the state dual title last year, came away with their highest state tournament finish in the school’s history last year, and the program is loaded again this season.
“We just want to get the best out of our kids,” Chris said, adding that he doesn’t care which coach garners the biggest honors.
So, how does a woman become a wrestling coach, anyway?
When Chris was in Amarillo, he coached Monica’s younger brother at Caprock and with her collegiate experience, Chris asked for some volunteer assistance with a promising female wrestler who was taking on the freestyle form, where he didn’t have as much experience.
And when Monica’s parents and friends set the two up on a date — well, the rest is history.
They married on Aug. 10, 2007, and both made it to new teacher orientation at Azle two days later.
Many wonder if they could work alongside their spouse. But it’s a no-brainer for the Allens.
“I know I couldn’t coach with anybody else,” Monica said. “We can be ‘good cop/bad cop’ with the kids if it becomes too much or if we get overwhelmed. I can be the good guy with the boys and bad with the girls, and back-and-forth,” she said.
And, quite honestly, for this couple, it’s a double-dip.
“It’s a way for us to spend more time together,” said Chris. “It’s also just sharing our love for the sport.”
Granted, planning practices and having a coaches’ meeting can be accomplished on the way to the grocery store.
It’s not always quite so simple, though, as the Allens have three kids, ages 9, 7 and 3. But the children are used to attending matches or on occasion, having a babysitter watch over them.
Chris noted there’s a big benefit of having a female head coach. Having a woman explain something to another woman seems to work best, at times.
“They relate to her so well. I can tell (the girl wrestlers) something over and over, and then she says something and they say, ‘Oh, yeah,’” Chris said.
Also helping promote women in the sport, Monica has been instrumental in setting up the “Sisters on the Mat” mentoring program. It pairs female wrestlers with a mentor at the next highest level of competition. The youth girls are paired with high school girls and the high schoolers are matched with those at the collegiate level.
Becky Spurlock, the first-year athletic director at Azle, said the duo head coaches situation works well and said she’s anxious to see the tandem in action this season.
“They’re two fabulous coaches and two great individuals and they treat the kids right,” Spurlock said. “I think we’ll compete again for some state championships.”