High School Sports

High school wrestling: Veteran coaches to helm first wrestling team at St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy

Pat Flynn was once a complimentary piece to a rising wrestling program. Now, he’s the foundation block and he’s looking for other pieces to help him lay groundwork at St. Josephs Catholic Academy, which will field its first-ever varsity wrestling team this winter.

Flynn, who spent the last nine years as an assistant at Bellefonte, will be joined by former State College head coach Chad Dubin, who will take on an assistant role for the Wolves. Flynn and Dubin, who combine for nearly 35 years of coaching experience, are in the process of scraping together resources, raising financial support and trying to spread the word of their new venture three months before the season begins.

“Having spent time with Pat and Chad to discuss their coaching philosophy and objectives, I am confident that they will be excellent mentors to our scholar athletes and a great credit to S.J.C.A.’s wrestling program and community,” St. Joseph’s principal Chris Chirieleison said in a release.

They’ve already made progress. The Wolves have been invited to two tournaments already — one in Pittsburgh and another in Maryland — but first, they need to get a team together in time to compete in Class AA.

Flynn isn’t concerned that the private school’s enrollment — although it has grown — is only expected to top out at 101 students this fall.

“It’s going to be a matter of grassroots, getting everything started from (purchasing) wrestling mats, to the wrestling room, to the budget, we’re starting from scratch,” Flynn said. “I think it’s one thing that Chad and I and the school are excited about, seeing what we can build.”

St. Joseph’s has plans to build a gym and Flynn’s goal is to construct a program that will eventually fill it to capacity.

On Monday, he and Dubin spent hours forwarding a press release announcing the creation of a wrestling program to local wrestling clubs.

Local Olympian Ken Chertow, who runs a highly-regarded camp system in Boalsburg, got it, as did the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club. The Mat-Town Wrestling Club in Lock Haven and the District 6 wrestling forum also received the release.

All in all, Flynn estimated the press release was distributed nearly 10,000 times through wrestling club email lists.

And although they still need to procure a wrestling room, purchase equipment and obtain wrestling mats, Flynn said he and Dubin haven’t set any time line to do so. With the season a few months away, Dubin said the response he’s heard from the community has been overwhelmingly positive.

The coaches goal is to have everything in place by the first semester this fall, then the only thing they’ll have to worry about is getting kids to come out for the team.

Dubin, who is an owner of Mammoth Restoration and Construction, said his company will chip in to help with fundraising efforts.

“We’re in pretty good shape already,” Dubin said. “A lot of the equipment needs, like singlets and warm-ups, are already in progress. ... We’re in the process of finalizing some fundraising for the wrestling mats. We should be pretty much good to go. Our focus, really primarily besides all that is getting word out to the current enrollment of students and to anyone who is interested in going to the school for probably what I think is one of the best educations in the area.”

And athletic opportunities at St. Joseph’s are expanding.

In addition to wrestling, St. Joseph’s will also field its first varsity football team this fall. Volleyball, golf, cross country, boy’s and girl’s basketball and track and field also return as available options.

“They’re going to have football this coming fall. Which is really neat because a lot of the football players will hopefully come out for wrestling,” Dubin said. “There are some really neat opportunities now at the school.”

Once the season starts, competitive opportunities will await mostly in individual tournaments. Although Flynn said his team’s schedule hasn’t been completed yet, the goal will be to attend as many tournaments as possible as opposed to wrestling dual meets.

“As we develop a full roster then obviously we’ll have more of a traditional dual meet schedule, hopefully with some of the local teams around here and then mix in tournaments and dual tournaments,” Dubin said.

Flynn has the big picture in mind when it comes to program building. Although St. Joseph’s is a private school, Flynn and Dubin are hoping to eventually establish a program at Our Lady Of Victory, a K-through-eight institution in State College.

“Once we get the high school program rolling hopefully it’s going to migrate down to Our Lady Of Victory middle school,” Flynn said. “Obviously that’s a couple of years away, but hopefully it’ll just grow and grow a lot.”