|Juniors Jason Worobow (l) and Ross Kantor with Coach Jacobson|
December 2, 2011
By TODD SLISS
Familiar faces are swooping in to take over varsity teams at Edgemont High School. This winter alone assistant wrestling coach Peter Jacobson replaces George DiChiara; former three-year boys? hoops coach Joe Galgano returns to replace Alex Bonci after a year off; girls? swimming coach Tobey Saracino moves over from bowling to boys? swimming to take over for James Loveless; assistant football coach Anthony DeRosa takes over bowling; and athletic director Ray Pappalardi, after an unsuccessful search, will likely spend the season with the gymnastics team, replacing Lindsay Robinson.
Jacobson?s dream job
?I think Pete was a natural choice,? Pappalardi said. ?He?s gone to school here, he understands the culture here at Edgemont, he knows our students, he knows our program, he?s been involved as an athlete and as an assistant coach. He?s watched the program grow over time and he has a clear idea of the direction in which he wants it to go.?
?He has a really strong work ethic, he cares about the program, he cares about the kids. I don?t think anybody else could immediately bring that to the program. And he clearly has values that are good for our kids. He has their best interest in mind when he makes decisions.?
To get the job was an honor for Jacobson.
?I love wrestling and I think anyone who knows me ? our athletes, my family, my friends ? knows how passionate I am about wrestling,? Jacobson said. ?I?ve always thought that to be able to coach wrestling where I went to school in the gym that I grew up in with the coach that was my coach took something that was special to me and just made it even better. Now to be able to lead this program that I?ve been involved in in one capacity or another for 20 years, I?m honored that Mr. Pappalardi and ultimately the board of education gave me this opportunity.?
The big change for Jacobson is to not have DiChiara around. They had everything down to a science from the workouts to the paperwork to the overall organization of the program. Now Jacobson is learning to delegate.
?It?s hard because George was such a central figure in the program and I definitely have huge shoes to fill just because he?s been here for a long time,? Jacobson said. ?I?m fortunate enough that he allowed me to grow as an assistant coach to the point where we shared a lot of the responsibilities.?
Volunteer Manny Alayon moves up into the assistant?s role. In addition Edgemont has a host of volunteer coaches ? Mike Mitchell, Sean Ross, John Marsh and Tim Hopkins. Each offers something different to the program and they are different sizes so that the coaches can step into just about any weight class and teach and work out the wrestlers.
?We try to run our program as much as you can run a high school program like a college program,? Jacobson said. ?We try to get coaches of different sizes who will be good partners for different wrestlers. That worked out well. If I?m not great at something and it would fit well with one of our wrestlers, I?d be shocked if one of our other coaches couldn?t do it. We have that kind of diversity in our staff. Part of our philosophy is to coach each kid as an individual, not treat them all the same.?
In addition Rob Breitenbach and Jedd Chesterson continue to work with the modified coaches. Jacobson refers to the collective as the ?best coaching staff in New York State.?
Jacobson has been working with the kids in-season and out-of-season for many years, so the level of familiarity makes the transition seamless.
?He is doing a great job,? senior Max Abramsky said. ?He?s wanted this for a while and we?re all sad that DiChiara retired and is not here, but Pete loves doing it. He brings a lot of enthusiasm. He works with us, drills with us, does l-on-1 drilling, so if we don?t know a technique or move he can teach us better.?
Though the goal is for the team to win a Section 1 title and for someone to get their name on the state champions banner hanging in the Edgemont gym, for Jacobson it?s more than just wrestling.
?We have a philosophy statement for the program ? it?s not about wins and losses so much as trying to build confidence, trying to help the kids realize if they work hard they can accomplish great things, teaching them about sportsmanship and respect and determination. There?s a bunch of buzz words like that in there.?
?Our goal is to make them better wrestlers, but also better people by the time they graduate. I point to David Rice, I point to Sean and David Ross. So many kids came into the program one way and left another way. I think a lot of people who don?t know me so well would be surprised that that?s what I talk about, but I think if you do all the right things, have the right kind of mentality, have the right kind of lifestyle and the right kind of training, then the winning and losing takes care of itself ultimately.