Dan Youngblood, a longtime wrestling coach who led Old Mill to the Class 4A-3A state championship in 2009, died early Sunday morning in a boating accident on the Severn River. The Severna Park resident was 51.
A former state high school wrestling champion himself, Youngblood attended Old Mill, where he won the Maryland 126-pound title in 1985. He then wrestled at the University of Pittsburgh before returning to Anne Arundel County to work, to coach and to navigate the river he loved.
“Danny grew up on the Severn; his father taught him how to boat,” said Jay Braunstein, another coach and a longtime friend who was with him when he died.
Youngblood and two others were aboard his 27-foot Sea Hunt around 2 a.m. when it crashed into an unlit marker in the Severn while going about 30 mph to 40 mph, Natural Resources Police said. Paramedics pronounced him dead on the scene.
Before the accident, Braunstein said, the three men had stopped at Little Round Bay, a favorite spot in the Severn, and “talked for hours about life and wrestling. Then we stood up, raised our hands to the sky and said, ‘We love life!’ Then we took off.
“Nobody saw the marker.”
Youngblood began coaching as an assistant at Broadneck in 1997, then moved to Glen Burnie with Braunstein, the head coach. In 2000, the two moved on to Mount Saint Joseph, which won three Maryland Independent Schools championships in their five years there.
“That’s where everything blossomed for Dan,” said Braunstein, who’d wrestled for Mount Saint Joseph. “Wrestling was in his DNA; he had a passion for what he was gifted at. He was a master teacher who taught life’s lessons, too. The young men whose lives he touched can never say they didn’t learn from him.”
In 2006, Youngblood returned to his alma mater, Old Mill, as an assistant and, two years later, became head coach, winning the state title in his second year there.
Willie Pumphrey, a former Old Mill wrestler, said that under Youngblood’s tutelage, the Patriots became a family.
“He made us bond as close as anybody can bond,” Pumphrey said. And when Pumphrey failed to win a state title himself, the coach told him that a championship itself wouldn’t make him a good person; the lessons he’d learned from wrestling would do that.
Youngblood “looked at everyone [on the team] as his son,” said Adam Palmer, who also wrestled for Old Mill. “And he did take care of us.”
In 2011, Youngblood and Braunstein took over the wrestling program at St. Paul’s for three years. Most recently, Youngblood was coach of the Mount Saint Joseph Titans youth league team. He also owned a regional restaurant management company in Severna Park.
Youngblood is survived by a daughter, Darby Youngblood of Severna Park; a sister, Terri Youngblood of Ellicott City; and two nieces. Plans for a celebration of his life, in June, are incomplete.