We see it often in big-time college football. Coaches do well at small programs and move up.
Just take a look at Monday's BCS National Championship Game. Alabama's Nick Saban (Toledo) and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly (Grand Valley State) started elsewhere.
So don't blame York Tech second-year wrestling coach Mike Diliberti when he admits to entertaining thoughts about applying for the Red Lion coaching position when it opened up last offseason.
A 2002 Red Lion grad, Diliberti knows the Lions can be a force in the York-Adams League when they're at full strength. He was there, first as a wrestler and later as an assistant coach, when former Red Lion coach Biff Walizer was leading Red Lion to York-Adams Division I titles. The position would be an upgrade over a York Tech program that hasn't had a winning season in league action since 1976-77 (9-5).
"Some people did want me to interview for it. I did think about it," Diliberti, 28, said of the Red Lion position. "But I just saw the opportunity we had here with the returning seniors that I had coming back. I wanted to stay at Tech."
Diliberti appears to have made the right choice in returning to the Spartans. With a 40-39 win over Littlestown last Thursday, York Tech improved to 2-2 in York-Adams Division II. It marks the first time since the 2005-06 season that York Tech will finish with more than one league win. Should the Spartans (6-7 overall) win just one of their final five dual meets, it would mark the most overall wins since 1993-94 (9-10).
Like most, if not all, high school wrestling coaches, Diliberti has loftier goals beyond the regular season. He'd like to send a wrestler to the District 3-AAA Tournament, something Tech hasn't done since 2005, when heavyweight Nate Weaver won the District 3-AAA crown and placed third at states.
Tech seniors Gary Hake (132 pounds), Camron Stewart (152), Dylan Hartlaub (160) and Jevenson Villanueva (220) will be the Spartans' best bets at accomplishing that feat. They are four of seven starters with plus-.500 individual records, a note that merits attention considering last year's team finished with just four starters who had plus-.500 records. Hake, who is 13-1 thus far, came the closest to qualifying for districts last year when he finished just one win shy.
"That's the main reason why I'm wrestling the way I am this year," Hake said of the last year's performance. "I wasn't so sure I was going to come back. But the more I thought about it, it ate at me. I had to come back."
Diliberti, who works as a Spanish teacher for grades 7-12 in the Dallastown Area School District, said he'd like to one day coach at the same school he teaches just to make things easier for travel.
Until then, he'll take on the challenges coaching at Tech. He understands the majority of his wrestlers come to him as freshmen new to the sport and won't blossom until they're seniors.
He's still working on getting an upgrade from the "new" wrestling room the Spartans have had the last two years -- essentially half the weight room. But it's better than sharing the gym with the basketball team or sometimes practicing in the cafeteria.
Diliberti appears to have what it takes to be successful at York Tech. Success might come in the form of getting a few league wins and having a district qualifier or two every year. But that would be an impressive accomplishment given the circumstances at York Tech.
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.