Entering his seventh season, Geneva’s Tom Chernich easily is the dean among Tri-Cities wrestling coaches.
St. Charles East (Chris Potter), St. Charles North (Pete McNamara) and Batavia (Scott Bayer) all are under new leadership this winter, but each still shares an important attribute with the veteran Chernich: All teach in the same building in which they coach.
“I’m there at North I want to say an average of six, seven hours a day not counting practice,” said McNamara, a District 303 substitute teacher who was the program’s freshman coach last season. “Making contact with the kids on a daily basis is crucial in any sport, but I think it’s especially crucial in wrestling because so many of the eggs are so fragile and you’re constantly needing that feedback sometimes.”
McNamara, 67, is a contrast to the younger Potter – a former Saints standout – and Bayer, who was a Bulldogs assistant from the mid-2000s. He spent 34 of his 41 seasons at Beech Grove (Ind.) as head coach before recently relocating to Chicagoland.
McNamara said he likely will be just a one-season stopgap after former coach Ken Moromi, an airline employee, was transferred to California. Moromi’s assistant, Gary Conrad, is the new head coach at Jacobs.
“We need to get a fine young coach in at North and in the building so that the program can continue and prosper in the right direction,” McNamara said.