LEECHBURG (KDKA) — Chuck Tursky has been coaching wrestling a long time.
“Thirty-four years,” he says with a tinge of disbelief in his voice.
The dozens of banners hanging in Kiski Area High School’s wrestling room tell the full tale. And he’s been coaching for so long, that last month Tursky broke the record for the most wins in WPIAL history.
“All of a sudden,” Tursky recalls, “someone comes to me and says ‘You’re like 10 wins away from 200.’ And I’m like, ‘Really? Huh.’
“And then when I was about 50 away from 300 — and 300 is a key mark in wrestling, that’s when you get inducted into the state Hall of Fame – so I knew that was coming.
“And then all of a sudden, before you know it, you’re up to 400. And now I’m at 459 wins. If you coach a few years, you get a lot of wins I guess.”
Tursky, who began his coaching career at Burrell High School as a 23-year-old still in college, always wondered what it would be like to coach for this long, but the fact that he’s actually here and has amassed so many wins has brought a sense of the surreal.
“When I first started,” Tursky says, “there were all these coaches and I was like ‘Boy, I’d like to get enough wins to be like them.’ And now I’ve passed them all.”
But as he helps young wrestlers in his fourth decade of coaching, it’s quite clear why he’s stayed in the game for so long.
“I never got into coaching for the wins,” he says. “I got into it because I love wrestling and I love coaching. And I’ve really been honored by coaching with long time assistants. They keep it fun and keep me motivated. And it’s really been a great adventure with a lot of great wrestlers that I’ve had. I wouldn’t have traded the trip for anything.”