Belle Vernon wrestling coach Doppelheuer resigns

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Monday, April 15, 2019 | 11:11 PM


Belle Vernon is in the market for a new wrestling coach after the school board Monday accepted the resignation of Mike Doppelheuer.

Doppelheuer said late Monday it was just time to part ways.

“I thought long and hard last year about resigning, but I decided to come back for one more year,” he said.

“I have two children that keep me at athletic events year round. I decided that I wanted to spend the time with them and help them excel in their athletic careers.”

Doppelheuer led the Leopards to a WPIAL runner-up finish in his first season (2015).

The following season, the Leopards captured the WPIAL team championship with a 42-18 win over perennial powerhouse Canon-McMillan.

Some of the names to come through the Belle Vernon wrestling room under Doppelheuer included Austin Bell, Zach Hartman, Mitch Hartman, Billy Korber, Milton Kobaly, Scotty Joll, Tyler Seliga, Mike Fine, Logan Seliga, Jacob Dunlop, Brock Godzin, Jarod Verkleeren and Derek Verkleeren.

Board director Dan Kovatch said the athletic committee noticed a significant dropoff in numbers from the youth level to the middle and high school level.

“As the athletic committee met for our winter sports exit interviews, we did notice that there is a significant drop-off from our youth wrestling program from the middle school and high school. In fact, when we go through the specific numbers, we’re taking a look at interested student-athletes for the wrestling program next year. There’s a potential of only having two or three athletes,” Kovatch said during discussion of the matter.

“There’s about 15 weight classes in the wrestling program, so we want to reach out to everyone, in conjunction with the resignation tonight, to solicit new ideas and feedback of what we could do differently. Again, it’s not the board’s intention to eliminate any programs, but we have to take a look at all the necessary data in terms of participation and cost when evaluating each program. Just know that we will be soliciting input from everyone in the community because we do need to increase the participation in that program.”

Kovatch said the board will meet with Superintendent Dr. Michele Dowell and athletic director Matt Humbert to begin investigating the drop in numbers.

“We’ll evaluate and assess why we only had six student-athletes on our high school team and only six on our middle school team for the 2018-19 season. This will include strong collaboration with our middle school coaches and leaders in our BVA Youth Wrestling program,” Kovatch added.

Doppelheuer is heavily involved with the youth program where his two sons participate.

“I spend plenty of time there already, and I want to continue to build and grow the program from the ground up,” Doppelheuer said.

Kovatch said the drop in numbers is stunning from youth to the higher levels.

“Most years, my understanding is that we have between 50-60 kids involved in youth wrestling, but it seems that we have a difficult time of transitioning those student-athletes into middle school wrestlers and eventually high school wrestlers,” Kovatch said. “Once we understand the root cause(s) for this, we will put our heads together on new ideas and what we can do better to improve the current situation.”

Kovatch also expressed gratitude to Doppelheuer for his time on the bench.

“BVA thanks coach Doppelheuer for his years of service to the BVA high school wrestling program, including leading the team to a WPIAL championship.”

The search for a new coach is expected to begin immediately.

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