New Beginnings

Feb 7, 2019

Soon this page will be filled with all of the great things that YOU will do. Until then, I will give you a brief history of my wrestling career and life. Like you, I grew up in Southeast PA and my first year of wrestling just happened to be the first year that Owen J. Robert’s had a youth program – the Norchester Wildcats! I started my wrestling career with what would become my lifelong best friend, Aaron Brown. We wrestled together for the better part of 20 years – first at Norchester, then at Team Renegade, even at The Hill School for a year, and finally in college at Virginia Tech. Aaron was what you would call a natural, I on the other hand was a constant work in progress. It was my desire to keep up with Aaron that kept me forging ahead despite a bedroom full of bronze and silver medals. Perhaps it was destiny, but I can say with true sincerity that I was fortunate to have exactly the right coaches and teammates at exactly the right times throughout my career. My first coaches were my father and Marc Petrucelli, a man that I still look to for advice to this day. When I was about 10 years old, I was given the opportunity to tryout for Team Renegade, which when I look back at life-changing moments, joining this club ranks near the very top. Dale the “Bonz” man Bonsall is a living legend. He had an unparalleled ability to make wrestling fun, yet still hold kids to a nearly impossible standard. Wrestling for Bonz reminds me of the movie Inception; it was as if he planted greatness in your mind. Not only did he bring out the best in you, he had a way to make you demand the best of yourself. Then in high school I wrestled for former Blair Academy and Lehigh University coach, Tom Hutchinson. For those of you who know Hutch, he is the most detail-oriented technician that you will ever meet. It was with Hutch that I learned the value of position and the ability to use every part of my body to wrestle. Hutch’s technique was heavily influenced by the Soviet system as his best friend was 6X World and 2X Olympic Champion, Sergei Beloglazov, who is widely considered the greatest wrestler to ever set foot on planet earth. After graduating from Hill, I headed south to Virginia Tech where I had the opportunity to be trained by 3X NCAA Champ and Olympic Champ, Tom Brands. Throw in NCAA Champ and Olympian Doug Schwab as my assistant coach and 2X NCAA Champ Brent Metcalf as a teammate and you have an incalculable amount of beatdowns received in a 2-year span. It was from Brands & Co. that I learned the value of perspective, confidence, and personal responsibility. Despite what many believe to be true about Tom Brands, I found a man that was more caring and passionate about the sport of wrestling than anyone else I have ever encountered; it emanated from every ounce of his being. Every time I thought I had Brands figured out, he revealed something new that would utterly blow my mind; simply put, words cannot explain the complexity of this great man. I know this, I owe both Schwab and Brands a debt that cannot be repaid for giving me a life that I can be proud of until the day I die.

To be truly honest, I must say that I never planned to become a college wrestling coach; it really fell in my lap. When I graduated from Virginia Tech in the Spring of 2006, I was fully prepared to move back home to Pennsylvania and swing a hammer alongside my father. Then one day I got a phone call from my friend and former coach, Dan Wirnsberger, who actually recruited me to and coached me my first year at Virginia Tech. Wirnsy was the new head coach at Bucknell University with a newly reinstated program that boasted a roster of 24 true freshman. It was with Wirnsy that I learned how to build and shape a program in the image that I believed in. I also learned the highs and lows of recruiting as well as the sweet taste of success and the soul-crushing agony of defeat. There were a lot of ups and downs in those 6 years, but I can say that I am more proud of what I was able to accomplish with Wirnsy at Bucknell than anywhere else along my journey. Perhaps it was because it was my first time coaching an NCAA All-American, but truly, I believe it was because everyone doubted us and together we created a band of misfits that believed in each other. After 6 seasons, I was given the chance to move back to Blacksburg and coach my alma mater, Virginia Tech. By this time, VT was under the leadership of NCAA Champ Kevin Dresser and NCAA finalist Tony Robie, and the program was on the verge of becoming a national power. This was my first (and only) high-profile coaching job, one that came with an expectation of success. It takes 4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree, and I would like to think that in those 4 seasons with the Hokies I earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing, promotion, and fan-building; Dresser was a bonafide CEO. My last stop in college wrestling came when I moved to University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. I think a lot of people were scratching their heads when I left a perennial top-10 and All-American producing machine to be an assistant at UTC. I looked at the UTC program as a true diamond in the rough, and I felt that if I were ever going to make a run at being a head coach in D1 wrestling, it was going to be at a mid-major like Chattanooga. One thing that I am most proud of in my time in Chatt was bringing along one of my former pupils, 3X NCAA All-American, Nick Brascetta. Nick and I had a great relationship at VT and I did everything in my power to bring him with me to UTC. Luckily for me, his fiancé (and now lovely wife Ashley) was applying to Chattanooga State’s dental hygiene school. It was the first time that I really took another coach under my wing and showed him the ropes (very similar to what Wirnsy did for me all those years before at Bucknell). Nick and I spent nearly every day together for 6 years and he became like family to me. Nick is still in Chattanooga living his dream and writing his legacy and to know that I was part of that, puts a big smile on my face. Out of every place I have lived and every town that I have visited, Chatt was my favorite and it was an extremely difficult place to leave for myself and my growing family. I only got to spend 2 years at UTC and never came close to doing all that I wanted to do, so I’m still trying to process how I feel about my time there as a coach. I had no intention of leaving Chatt, but the time was right for so many different reasons.

Which brings me to right now, this moment in time where I am sitting in my room in Pottstown, PA writing to you. If you want to know who I am and what I am about, let me tell you straight. I am a small-town kid that had big time dream; not because I was super talented but because I had a mother and father who loved and supported me and who never once told me to be realistic. This is the last time that I will ever post about myself (mostly because I hate talking about me). My time has come and gone. My legacy is written. I don’t coach because it’s about me…I just love the sport and want to surround myself with others that want to be great. What do you want people to say about you when the dust has settled and your career is done? Who is whispering in your ear to dream big? If you’re in the business of creating a legacy, then you’ve come to the right place.