Some of Chris Schell's memories of being a student at Red Lion High School in the late 1980s are crystal clear.
Others are a little fuzzy.
Schell remembers scoring the game-winning touchdown for the Lions in the fall of 1988 to defeat rival Dallastown on the football field. He can't remember the exact score of the game, but it gave Red Lion its lone victory that season while keeping Dallastown winless.
He also recalls wrestling from his sophomore to senior years, starting out at 145 pounds and going up to 160 pounds.
"I probably should have wrestled at a lower weight my senior year. But that's the thing. Even then I had trouble disciplining myself. But you live and learn," he said.
It's the latter part Schell is looking forward to teaching Red Lion wrestlers later this year. The school named Schell the new varsity coach of the wrestling program a couple weeks ago.
"That's a thing in life I want to instill in the kids. You live and learn in your mistakes," he said. "You keep trying and keep plugging away."
Sure, saying you're going to teach kids to learn from their mistakes may sound a bit like "coach speak." But in his 42 years of life, Schell has seen firsthand how true those words are.
Influence: Just months after graduating from Red Lion in 1989, Schell lost his father to complications stemming from a heart attack. It was in his father's final days when Schell received a piece of advice he's never forgotten.
"Dad told me to establish your goals in life and go for them. Find your niche in life and exceed at it," Schell said.
Schell's niche has been in coaching wrestlers. Soon after his father died, Schell got a call from his high school wrestling coach, Thomas Sinibaldi, about helping out at Red Lion's elementary levels. He has been involved with the Lions' wrestling program in some fashion ever since.
More recently, Schell spent time at both the elementary and varsity levels during the 11 seasons Biff Walizer spent as Red Lion's varsity coach before stepping down after the 2010-2011 season.
Walizer led Red Lion to a share of the York-Adams League Division I title four times. In Walizer's last 10 years, the Lions went 66-17 in Division I matches.
"He's a great mentor and showed me the ropes," Schell said of Walizer.
Getting back on top: Taking over for Walizer last season, Coach Brad Keeney ended up resigning after a tough 4-6 mark in York-Adams League Division I competition. It marked the first losing record for Red Lion in league action since the 2000-2001 season (3-5).
The Lions lost a pair of talented grapplers to graduation in Brooks Arnold (220) and Korey Eberly (182), who were both District 3-AAA Tournament qualifiers. Red Lion is expected to return District 3-AAA qualifiers in Austin Halloway (145) and Schell's son, Tyler (170). So, the cupboard isn't completely bare for the Lions.
"We're looking for this year to be a little bit around .500 but we're looking to be solid," Coach Schell said. "Our junior high team last year only lost three meets. So, we have some talent coming up."
So, while Schell is looking forward to getting the Lions back near the top of Division I, he understands it might take some time. More than anything, though, he'll continue to put his father's advice to work.
"There's an act of being a coach. There's an act to know each individual and their abilities," he said. "Each kid wrestles differently. You have to find that niche of what they're able to do."
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.