Legendary Simley wrestling coach Short dies of cancer

  • Article by: JIM PAULSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 18, 2014 - 11:33 PM

Jim Short, who led the Spartans to five state championships, lost his battle with cancer.

Former Simley wrestling coach Jim Short (2009 photo)

The cancer that Jim Short, the legendary Simley High School wresting coach and patriarch of one of Minnesota’s most well-respected wrestling families, battled for many years finally caught up with him. Short died Saturday at his Inver Grove Heights home. He was 67.

Short’s cancer, which was linked to a kidney transplant he received in 1982, took a turn for the worse early last week, which led to him being hospitalized. When his health did not improve, his wife, Pat, said, they made the decision to take him home early Saturday.

“We brought him home so he could die in peace,” Pat said. “He died about four hours later.”

Short coached Simley wrestling for 31 years, retiring in 2009 and again, after a one-year return, in 2011 with 470 career victories. He led the Spartans to five state championships as a head coach and assisted his son, Will, Simley’s current head coach and athletic director, to five more state titles.

“Wrestling was his whole life and the life of his whole family,” Pat said. “His goal was to help every kid. He thought wrestling taught you everything you needed to know. He though that after wrestling, everything else is easy.”

Jim Jackson, the former Apple Valley head coach and newly hired associate head coach at Eden Prairie, said Short’s commitment to wrestling was vital to the development of the sport in Minnesota.

“He was a great high school coach, but he was also big in the building of the offseason stuff, like Minnesota USA Wrestling, the freestyle and Greco-Roman styles,” Jackson said. “Over 40 years he left his mark on many, many kids. He will be sorely missed.”

Visitation for Short is scheduled for Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Inver Grove Heights. Funeral services will be held Saturday at St. Patrick’s, with visitation from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and the funeral and a luncheon to follow. Burial is private, for family members only.

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