I began my wrestling career as an 8th grader at Brentwood West Junior High in 1969 under Coach Richard Cooney. After what most would consider an above average Jr. High wrestling career, I entered Brentwood High School and wrestled for Hall of Fame Coach Joe “GOV” Campo. Coach Campo’s encouraging influence and positive impact took hold of me immediately and to this day still holds strong. In addition to Coach Campo, I had great role models to emulate. I looked up to the likes of a Carl Adams, Mike Campo, Larry Goodfellow, Pete Galea, and Bobby Antonacci just to name a few. In the process of chasing my dream to become a Brentwood Wrestling Champion, I gained priceless experience and humility down in the Bay Shore 5th Avenue School’s wrestling room. It was on that old canvas mat where I was further challenged to develop my techniques and skills especially under the supervision and tutelage of Hall of Fame Coach “Jumper” Leggio. As a Brentwood grappler, I competed at 101 pounds earning two League I Titles, 1 Suffolk County Championship, and earned Runner up Honors at the New York State Wrestling Tournament. In addition, in the off-season, I found myself competing in several Free Style wrestling tournaments. My most memorable Free Style experience occurred in 1972 when I traveled to Cleveland, Ohio for the Senior Free Style Nationals with Coach “Jumper” Leggio. I was proud and honored to represent the Town Of Islip, Suffolk County, and Long Island. I was entered into the Brentwood Wrestling Hall of Fame class of 1973 and in 2008 I was inducted as a Distinguished Brentwood Alumni Hall of Fame member.
Subsequently, I attended Nassau Community College and Wrestled for Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Henke. As Co-Captain of the 1976 Team, I competed in the 118-pound weight class and earned a Regional Championship. Coach Henke took over where Coach Campo left off and guided me toward earning successes both on the mat and in the classroom. I graduated from Nassau with an Associate in Science Degree and headed to SUNY Brockport. Once again was coached by yet another Legendary Hall of Famer, Coach Don Murray who led me to attain a few more milestones in an already successful wrestling career. At Brockport, I competed at the 118-pound weight class for my junior and senior seasons. I was the runner up at the SUNY Championships in 1976. In 1977 as a Co-Captain, I placed 1st at the SUNY Championships and fourth in the NCAA Division III Nationals. I helped lead the Golden Eagles win their very first NCAA Division III National Wrestling Championship. In 2012, I was inducted into the SUNY Brockport Hall of Fame.
In the fall of 1977, I moved back home to Brentwood and began my Student Teaching and Coaching career. My Student Teaching assignment was with none other than Hall of Fame Coach Lou Gianni at the Jefferson Elementary School in Huntington. Coach Gianni took me under his wing and mentored me to the completion of my Student Teaching back here on Long Island which afforded me the opportunity to attain my Bachelor of Science Degree. With my Degree in hand, I started teaching and coaching for the Brentwood School District. Reunited with Coach Campo as his Assistant, I spent the next five years mentored by the greatest High School teacher/coach in the country, The “Gov.” The Brentwood dynasty continued with more League and County Titles, and a New York State Cup Championship. Tremendous thanks go out to our many outstanding individuals and wrestlers including our three Joe’s…Joe Petrucci–State Champ, Joe Plante-State Champ, and Joe Iannuzzi-3rd in the State. In 1980-81 I competed in the New York State Empire Games and also was the Long Island High School Wrestling Chairperson.
My next opportunity brought me to LIU C.W. Post as the Head Wrestling Coach from1983-86. In addition I entered the Graduate Program and earned my Master in School Counseling. LIU C.W. Post Wrestlers Sean O’Malley and John Kroez became NCAA Division II All Americans and in 1985 the Team finished as NCAA Division II Conference Runner Up.
Employed by the Hauppauge School District from 1986-2011 I spent 25 Years as the Hauppauge High School Junior Varsity and Varsity Assistant Wrestling Coach. Having been voted as the Leagues Junior Varsity Coach of the year twenty times. Along with Hall of Fame coach Chris Messina, three Hauppauge wrestlers earned High School All American honors, five became New York State Champs, four became State place winners, and sixteen Suffolk County Champs. Hauppauge Teams won 18 League Titles, 15 Dual Meet Tittles, 2 Suffolk County Tittles, and 2 Runner up performances. In 2011 I was honored by the Suffolk County Coaches Association and received the Joe Campo Grand Master Award.
In 2012, after a brief retirement from coaching, I found myself back where it all started, in the Wrestling room at Brentwood High School. Going back to give back has been pure pleasure and a complete joy for me. Coach Ralph Napolitano and his staff have more than welcomed me back and the student/athletes fill my heart with the memories of years gone by.
Lastly, I would like to thank and acknowledge my wife Ana, my family D’Ana her husband Jay, my grandsons Haden and Asher, Victoria, JeriLynn her husband Harry, and Catherine for their complete support and love over the many years of my dedication to the great sport of Wrestling.