Pat Pecora has seen and done just about everything in wrestling, from coaching one of the sport’s all-time greats in Carlton Haselrig to guiding national championship teams and individuals, but the hall of fame coach still enjoys helping youngsters learn and grow.
That’s part of the reason Pecora has again agreed to hold a kids clinic at 1:30 p.m. Sunday before the start of the fourth annual Border Brawl Mason-Dixon Wrestling Classic at Pitt-Johnstown. The all-star dual meet starts at 3 p.m.
As it has been each year, the event will be free for wrestlers in eighth grade or younger with an accompanying adult’s admission to the Border Brawl.
“I just get a kick out of the excitement and the look on their faces when I bring the college guys out,” said Pecora, who was named the Division II national coach of the year this season. “I think that’s what’s unique in our sport. Without professional athletes, so to speak, college wrestlers become the heroes of younger wrestlers.”
Pitt-Johnstown produced five All-Americans this season, including junior Chris Eddins, who won his second Division II national title. Pecora hopes that those five – Devin Austin, Brock Biddle, Joey Alessandro and Brendan Howard – will help out with the clinic along with former national champions Cody Law and Tyler Reinhart.
“I plan to have as much of the team there as possible,” Pecora said. “It’ll be nice for them to see this (Eddins) is a two-time national champ. I think that’s the thrill.”
A Greensburg Salem product, Eddins will have the opportunity next year to join Haselrig as a Pitt-Johnstown three-time national champion.
“I like to see the interaction between our guys and the little kids,” Pecora said. “What you’re going to teach and what they pick up skill-wise is great, but the interactions that they have with college wrestlers, I think that’s the thrill.”
Although Pecora, who has coached 14 individuals to 22 Division II national titles and two team championships, is known for his work with college wrestlers, helping youngsters develop is nothing new for him.
“I’ve done clinics my whole career, during the summer,” said Pecora, who just wrapped up his 42nd season coaching the Mountain Cats. “For years and years and years, I did it the whole summer long. I think it keeps me fresh in the sport.”