"A True Blessing in Disguise"
It was the spring of 1973. I'd finished a very successful season as head coach of the "Maroon Knights" of Wheeling Central, concluding the year by producing Central's last wrestler to win states when there was only one class for all wrestling teams in West Virginia. That wrestler was Dan Doyle, who later became one of the most successful mat coaches in the Ohio Valley.
Now here's where the story begins.
That spring, I learned that York College (PA), a highly-respected four-year institution of higher learning in the collegiate hotbed of wrestling, was looking for a head wrestling coach and physical education teacher. I decided to check it out and was granted an interview by the school's athletic director.
The interview with the AD lasted the entire day. I was given a tour of the school's newly-constructed athletic facility, and was very impressed. I was also informed of what my duties as a physical education instructor would encompass. Again, I was impressed. I should say that the AD was also pleased with what my goals were for putting the York College wrestling program on the map. In truth, it was a great interview. It all took place on a Wednesday.
That night I was surprised to received a phone call from the AD; he was recommending me for the position. I was elated. York College was only an hour's drive from both my wife Peggy's and my hometown. To say the least, Peggy was excited, too. Having only been living in Wheeling for three years, knowing few people, we were homesick.
My fondest dream as a wrestling mentor came true; I was going to coach the sport I love at the collegiate level Then the bottom dropped out. At approximately 10:30 that Friday evening, I received another phone call from the AD. He told me he was embarrassed to call and had bad news for me.
In point of fact, the AD did recommend me for the position. However, the president of the college was good friends of one of the other applicants, and wanted him to have the job. I was devastated. I must confess there were some tears of disappointment that evening. But life goes on.
Since that dreadful night of long ago, life did go on and so did opportunities that would never have happened at York College. I got to coach at Wheeling Park High School, where we produced three state championship teams. In 1978, I was afforded the chance to write about the sport I love, which, as you can see, I am still doing. (Thank you, Bill Van Horne.) I was also given the opportunity to pursue a doctorate in education at WVU, and most recently the real dream came true, editing and authoring a book on the sport I so deeply love, which has been distributed world wide.
But even more than is mentioned above, I met some outstanding individuals who took me under their wings, supporting and teaching me so much -- the likes of Elmer Freese, Bill McEldowney, Mary and Hank Marockie, Sam Defillippo, Lynn Holderman, Joe Tomsic, Jim Monderine, Larry Miller, George, Evelyn, and Mike Kovalick, Bobby Douglas, Bill and Gladys Van Horne, Paul Billiard, the Mendenhall family, Bill Foster, Joe Viglietta, the Haller family, Bob and Pete Palmer, the Naum family, Ray Coe, the Maynard and Doyle families, Jack Rothbart, John "Corky" Vrotsos, Rod Oldham, Bill Hinegardner, Bob Forsyth, Bill Donohew, Larry Deaton, Joe Handlan, Vince Monseau, Pat Walling, Warren Carter, Jerry Trembush, Gary Ray, Mike Hayden, the Taylor family, Bill Valko, Dick Edge, last, but certainly not least, Ron Mauck.
Today, I truly understand that God answers all prayers. In reference to the York College position, His answer was a definite "No!" He had other more rewarding plans for me.
Thank you, Lord, for all your blessings.
Happy New Year to all!