Pride Wrestling founder Doug Joseph was selected as the new head wrestling coach at Penn State New Kensington. This was announced recently by Dave Murray, director of athletics.
A former assistant coach at Kiski Area High School and Gannon University, Joseph replaces Scott Morgan who resigned in March after the inaugural season at the campus. Joseph brings to the campus a passion for developing young men in all aspects of their collegiate lives, both academically and athletically.
"I want to help students develop their wrestling skills, strengthen their minds and bodies, and gain character," said Joseph, who continues to direct activities for the Pride organization. "I am passionate about helping these athletes become the great wrestlers and the great men that they are destined to become."
After a stellar wrestling career at Gannon, where he won the 197-pound NCAA national championship in 2001, Joseph earned a degree in secondary sports management with a concentration in wellness and fitness at California University of Pennsylvania. In 2004, he established the Pride organization for wrestlers of all ages. Pride helps wrestlers to develop their skills while learning about respect, determination and discipline
"Wrestling isn’t just about a sport, winning and losing, it is about molding you into a good person," said Joseph, who is a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association wrestling official. "We stress that working hard can help them achieve their goals, and they can still have fun doing it."
The new coach's first challenge in building a collegiate program is recruiting players who can develop the skills needed to be successful on the mat and the character needed to be successful in the classroom, as well as in the community. As a part of his coaching philosophy, Joseph believes that athletic and educational development gives students the tools that are essential for success in life. These attributes can be found in the wrestlers from local high schools.
"The Alle-Kiski Valley is a hot spot for wrestling and Penn State New Kensington sits in heart of that spot," said Joseph, a product of Kiski Area High School. "We have a ton of great talent right here in our local community, and I plan to give these kids a chance to go after their dreams."
Wrestling is in the blood of the Joseph family and the bloodline can be traced back for generations. His grandfather, father and uncles were wrestlers, as was his grandmother (her maiden name was Restler). Doug's three younger brothers wrestled at state universities in western Pennsylvania -- Stephen at Edinboro; Andrew at Slippery Rock; and Scott at Clarion.
The family coaching pedigree is equally impressive. The father, Stephen Sr., directed the Kiski Area Youth Wrestling program for more than 20 years while serving as an assistant at the high school. Stephen Jr. coaches at Pine Richland High School after a stop at Valley High School. In addition to coaching at Gannon and Kiski Area, Doug was Summit Academy's first wrestling coach.
Murray expects Joseph, who studied under Chuck Tursky, the legendary Kiski Area coach, to revive a storied program that traces its roots back to the 1970s. Bob Darby, retired instructor of kinesiology and director of athletics, was the first head coach.
"Doug is well regarded in the community, and his wrestling background and experience with building a program from scratch makes him a good fit to head the campus wrestling revival," said Murray, himself a former soccer coach at Geneva College.
Joseph inherits a roster dominated by freshmen. Although the team finished 0-10 in dual matches, individuals provided numerous bright spots. Lou Gardone and Mark Irwin earned berths in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association national championships. Gardone, a 197-pound junior was seeded fourth in the nationals by virtue of winning the NCWA Mid-East regional. On the year, he fashioned a team-best 12-6 record. Irwin, a 147-pound freshman from Pittsburgh, was selected as a wildcard for the nationals after medaling with a sixth-place showing in the Mid-East tournament. Due to logistical difficulties at the tournament, neither got the chance to vie for a national title. With the expertise of Joseph, both expect to make a return trip next year.
"I know Coach Joseph from Pride (Wrestling) and he will be great for our program," said Gardone, a graduate of Burrell High School. "He will definitely benefit the team and make me a better wrestler."
Joseph resides in Leechburg with his wife, Rachel, and their three children, Stone, 8, Bear, 2, and Daisy, 1.