North Xtra: North Catholic wrestling makes change at top
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The North Catholic High School wrestling program has found a solution to its coaching situation for the current season, and most likey for the future.
Jason Lucia put North Catholic wrestling on the map last year when the school sponsored a varsity program for the first time. The Trojans, with Lucia at the helm, wrestled a schedule that included various non-league matches and a few tournaments.
With the first season under its belt, North Catholic petitioned to be included in a WPIAL section for the 2012-13 season. But just when it looked as if the program would have some stability, Lucia resigned as athletic director and coach to take another job.
That's when Dan Sefick, a member of North Catholic's football coaching staff, stepped into the picture. Mike Burrell, the school's new athletic director, needed to find a coach, and he needed to find one quickly as wrestling practice had just started.
"Mike [Burrell] came to me at our football banquet and asked if I would take the head wrestling position this year so we didn't have to drop the program," said Sefick, who had made a donation to get the program off the ground. "I thought about it for a day and couldn't let them drop the program."
Sefick is the first to admit that his knowledge of wrestling is limited.
"I joined the wrestling team at Avalon Middle School in seventh grade when I got cut from the basketball team," Sefick said. "That's my only experience in wrestling."
But Sefick has plenty of coaching experience.
"I was a ninth-grade basketball coach at Northgate for 15 years and a varsity assistant for 12 years," Sefick said. "This was my second year with North Catholic's football team, and my first year as defensive coordinator."
Sefick has a squad of seven wrestlers and he's familiar with every one of them, even though he is not employed by the school district.
"All seven were on the football team, so I'm very familiar with them all," Sefick said. "They are all good kids who are not afraid of hard work. The program is in its infancy and I couldn't let them down."
Sefick agreed to coach the Trojans this season, but hoped Burrell could find somebody who could lead the program in the future. That's when Taylor Letters, a former Shaler Area wrestler, stepped into the picture.
"Taylor came in and interviewed for the assistant coaching position," Sefick said. "When I saw his background in wrestling, I knew we had the right guy to take the program into the future."
Letters was a four-year starter at Shaler who was a three-time WPIAL finalist and three-time PIAA place-winner. He finished his high school career with a 151-19 record.
"I wrestled two years at Clarion University, but my wrestling career came to an end when I transferred to California University," said Letters.
"I graduated in 2008 and had dropped out of the wrestling scene."
That's when Letters heard about the job opening at North Catholic.
"I've thought about coaching since I graduated, but I wanted to get myself established with the family business," Letters said. "I recently took over Letters Roofing and then this coaching opportunity fell into my lap."
Letters took the assistant coaching position with a few stipulations.
"The transition involved with taking over the family business might force me to miss a few practices," said Letters, who is in his third week with the program. "So working as an assistant is the perfect scenario for me."
Letters also pointed out that his schedule should be much more flexibile next season.
"Dan has informed me that this is a one-year job for him," Letters said. "He's hoping that I will take over as head coach next season. If the school wants to go in that direction, I am very interested."
Sefick is thrilled to have Letters on board.
"Taylor's knowledge of the sport is excellent," Sefick said. "I'm trying to learn as much as I can in a short time. Having him in the practice room with me has been a blessing."
First Published December 20, 2012 12:00 am