New Shaler wrestling coach ready to take on challenge
Friday, November 22, 2019 | 12:28 PM
Ethan Swope knows his first head coaching opportunity will be more about development than team success.
Swope, Shaler Area’s first-year wrestling coach, will take over a Titans roster with 10 wrestlers. Having low numbers will make it difficult to compete in dual meets, which feature matches in 14 weight classes.
While the PIAA might be transitioning from 14 to 12 weight classes for the 2020-21 school year, that won’t help Shaler this season.
“It’s going to be a challenge for the next few years with numbers,” Swope said. “We’re going through a lull right now in terms of varsity numbers. We’re strong with youth and middle school numbers. We’re hoping to carry that through and make sure the kids stay involved through high school.”
Shaler has had plenty of success over the past five seasons. The Titans won a section title in 2016 and saw Ryan Sullivan win consecutive state titles before signing with Pitt.
Shaler also has a long history of consistency with coaching.
Drew D’Agostino stepped down last season after leading the program since 2006.
Before that, Ric LaFerriere guided the Titans to a 247-99-1 record in the previous 19 seasons. LaFerriere replaced Bob Siar Sr., who guided the team for 23 years from 1965-87 and compiled a mark of 245-83-6.
Swope, a graduate of DuBois High School, wrestled for NCAA Division II Gannon. During his four-year career, Swope finished with a 58-34 record and recorded seven pins.
Swope was an assistant at Shaler for the past two seasons and previously was a volunteer at Plum.
“I always want to have contact with the sport,” Swope said. “I always had coaches who put in a lot of time with me. I’ve always wanted to give back to the sport. It teaches you so many lessons. It’s nice to give back to the kids.”
Swope is hoping to get Shaler headed in the right direction. That will allow the Titans a chance to build for the future.
“When you are rebuilding, especially with our situation having low numbers, it gives us the opportunity to focus on individuals and their personal development,” he said. “We have a handful of kids with limited experience. We want to make sure each kid has separate goals. That’s the main focus of this year, focusing on each kid rather than the team aspect.”