COLUMBIA CITY — For every great athlete, there is a spark that sets them on their path — a moment they can look back on and point to as the beginning of something great.

For Columbia City High School graduate Mark Line, his path to wrestling greatness started off grappling with his cousin Todd Deutsch on mattresses. From high school to college, and on in to coaching, Line has enjoyed one of the most successful careers in Indiana high school wrestling.

Last month, Line was honored for his work in the sport, as he was inducted into the Indiana State Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame.

“We didn’t have middle school wrestling then,” said Line, who was only in eighth grade when Deutsch approached him about wrestling. “I fell in love with it and it took off from there.”

After graduating from CCHS in 1983, Line spent a year wrestling at Anderson. He then transferred to the University of Indianapolis. After an injury, Line was asked to work as a graduate assistant for the college team. The experience was immediately rewarding and Line realized what his future would hold.

Line went to work showing kids in the western part of the state how to be successful wrestlers and people. He coached at Knox High School, Lowell High School, North Newton High School and Valparaiso High School.

Line’s team won a state title while at Lowell in 2000. His career coaching record stands at 427 wins and 237 losses. Line has coached teams to five conference titles, four sectional crowns and six regional runner-ups. He has had three wrestlers claim individual state wrestling titles.

“I’ve been very fortunate that wrestling has provided me with a great opportunity,” said Line. “I never imagined getting here.”

With all the titles and wins Line said his most memorable accomplishment was coaching his own son, Austin. But the state title in 2000 would be second on his list as the coach said he still keeps in touch with wrestlers from that team.

Being a successful head coach to line was a pretty simple formula, leave it better then you found it. Line set high standards for his teams and expected them to work hard on the mat and in the classroom. If the coaches and wrestlers could reach those goals good things were bound to happen even if the wins and losses didn’t fall the way the team wanted them to.

One of the most remarkable things about the legacy Line has left is he has encouraged his former wrestlers to stay with the sport. Nine of Line’s former wrestlers are now coaching somewhere, carrying on the tradition. And, it’s a legacy that Line says should continue.

“We’re not done yet,” said Line, who wants to continue coaching. “We’re going to make some more memories for kids.”

From wrestling on mattresses to the hall of fame, Line’s career has been one of greatness. There are countless kids across the state who just need one chance encounter to set them off down a similar path.

Line is the kind of wrestling coach who could provide that spark to a young student and lead them all the way to a state title.