Skip To Main Content

A Family Legacy

Finn Family - South Metro Standard cover story
Rusty Anderson

Wrestling put the Finn family on the map in Oklahoma. But it is how John and Nancy Finn lived their lives that set up their five sons for success.

by Tim Willert for South Metro Standard

Wrestling put the Finn family on the map in Oklahoma. But it is how John and Nancy Finn lived their lives that set up their five sons for success.

"They were molding us to be good people in society," recalled John Jacob Finn, 30, a Moore firefighter. "That always comes back to doing the right things, even when people aren't looking."

The countless road trips and family dinners strengthened the bond between John and Nancy and sons Chris, 38, Dustin, 37, Patrick, 36, John Jacob, and Jordan, 27.

"They were so hands on. I noticed that at an early age," said Patrick Finn, an Edmond firefighter. "We did everything as a family. If we couldn't all go somewhere we didn't go. That's how my dad was, he was big on family. Every Sunday we sat down as a family and had dinner. We did that until my mom passed."

Liver cancer took Nancy Finn, 65, a registered nurse, two years ago. The couple were married for 41 years.

"She was the rock of the family," said John Finn, 64, a longtime Westmoore High School wrestling coach and administrator who retired in 2022 after nearly four decades of service. "I want to believe that I held it together, but she was the one that did everything in the background. She probably didn't get the credit she deserved, but she never wanted to be in the limelight. That's just the type of person she was, a very humble person."

When it came to raising their children, John and Nancy Finn were teammates who practiced what they preached. "They taught us anything can happen with hard work," said Jordan Finn, a firefighter for the city of Oklahoma City. "They were always there for us...they were always responsible, respectful and caring."

We wanted to set the example that people live by. That's just what we did until it was all done. - John Finn

Summers were usually spent traveling in the family's black Chevy Suburban to out-of-town wrestling tournaments in places like Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

"Typical families go on family vacations," John Jacob said. "My family vacations were going to watch my brothers wrestle."

Above all, John and Nancy Finn were committed to their marriage and raising their sons the right way. "There's a lot of give and take that goes on throughout life," Dustin Finn said. "You just know at the end of the day you're committed to that person. Me and my wife have been through a lot of things. One thing I've learned from my parents is being committed, no matter how hard or how easy things are, no matter what life throws at us. The one thing that stays constant is that commitment."

John Finn, an All-American wrestler at the University of Central Oklahoma, was hired to coach the Westmoore wrestling program when the school opened in 1988. Finn built the Jaguars' program into a power that produced 11 individual state champions, 32 state place winners, 11 district team titles and a state runner-up finish in 2000.

Chris Finn and his brothers were accomplished wrestlers who "grew up in the halls and the wrestling room of Westmoore."

"That's where we spent most of our time, watching practice," said Finn, a state wrestling champion at Westmoore who also starred in football for the Jaguars and coaches both sports at Tuttle High School. "We were all really competitive," he continued. "We kind of fed off each other. That's all we knew and saw. We were around football and wrestling. That was normal for us, being in a competitive environment growing up."

John Finn and four of his sons wrestled for the University of Central Oklahoma, with John, Chris and Dustin earning All-America honors for the Bronchos. John and Dustin, a three-time All-American, were the first father and son to be inducted into the UCO Hall of Fame. In 2014, John Finn was inducted into the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

In October, the Finn family received the 2023 Madalene and Lee Roy Smith Family Award, which is given annually to a family with two or more wrestlers who have achieved excellence in the sport and brought recognition to the state.

"It validates what you did and all the people you touched," John Finn said. "It validates just how grand it is to make a difference in people's lives."

Dustin followed his father and older brother into coaching and is an assistant to head wrestling coach Will Evans at Westmoore. "As a kid you see your parents always being there not only for us, but for the people in their careers," he said. "My mom was always working; she wouldn't take days off. My dad was building a program. Looking at it as a kid, a lot of people were counting on them, and they were giving themselves to their communities. That's what I always wanted to do. As a coach, I am able to give back to the kids and give back some of the knowledge that I have."

After coaching at Westmoore for 21 years, John Finn became an assistant principal at the school and served in that role for 16 years until retiring in 2022. As an administrator, Finn was skilled at developing and maintaining healthy relationships with students while also holding them to a high standard, according to former Westmoore Principal Mark Hunt.

"John was extremely impactful on creating and maintaining the culture at Westmoore," said Hunt, who knew Finn from their days as students at Moore High School and hired him to advise Westmoore sophomores as their assistant principal. "It was all about high expectations for student success in every program. John has an innate ability to develop relationships with people where they trust him. He can work with the brightest and he can work with the kids that struggled. He has that ability to make that connection, where students believe he has their best interest in mind."

John Finn said he is regularly approached by former Westmoore students. "They tell me, 'I just appreciate all the stuff you made me do; it made me be a better father and a better employee,'" he said.