By Ryan Pike and Griffin Johnson
Managing Editor for Writing and Reporting and Editor-in-chief
Apples, oranges, water and enthusiasm. One of these things is not like the other, but all of them are things that Coach Joseph Moran brings to Jamesville-DeWitt High School as the first-year head coach of the J-D/Christian Brothers Academy Varsity Wrestling team.
According to junior Zack Hatem, Coach Moran tends to bring his players fruit and water before matches in order to keep them healthy, but nutrition isn’t the only thing he brings to the plate. “He brings enthusiasm every day,” says junior and Section III Champion Ben Honis (see other article). Junior George Kassis agrees and says Coach Moran continuously pushes the team mentally and physically. “You always have to work hard,” says freshman Luke Rowe; “If you’re not working hard he’ll join with you.”
Rowe says Coach Moran goes “balls to the wall” when he wrestles with the student-athletes. It all stems from Coach Moran’s college wrestling career. “One, it keeps me in shape,” he says jokingly; “And two, you’re only as good as your practice partner or your drill partner.” After becoming a Sectional Champion during his high school wrestling career in Buffalo, NY, qualifying for the National Tournament in junior college, and finishing his collegiate career at SUNY Cortland with a winning record, Coach Moran attributes much of his development as a wrestler to the fact that he would always train with partners who were better than he was. “I became such a good wrestler because I was always going with people who were better than me,” he says. Now, Coach Moran has reversed his role, using his higher level of skills and experience to teach his own players. “When I go with them they’re learning stuff from me. I’m hitting moves on them that maybe they aren’t hitting right now. Experience is the best teacher, so if I’m working with them they’re going to pick up the things that I’m doing and then be able to apply it,” he says.
After graduating from SUNY Cortland in 2009, Coach Moran became a physical education teacher at Marcellus High School, where he was also the Varsity Boys Wrestling Coach. After his first year at Marcellus, he lost his job due to budget cuts, but he decided to remain the wrestling coach there for another year. Coach Moran was then presented with the opportunity to coach here at J-DHS in 2012. “I just felt like I need to expand my networking a bit and I knew about this coaching opportunity here and I knew that J-D was a prestigious school and it would be good to be a part of. So I hopped right on it, and luckily I walked into a great situation with some talented wrestlers,” he says.
Since Coach Moran began his coaching career, he has altered his style quite a bit. “I have changed my coaching philosophy dramatically since my first year. My first year I was very militaristic. If you were a minute late, I would fly off the handle. I was very structured to the T. I wouldn’t hear an excuse for anything,” he says. Coach Moran believes that his original coaching style came from his time as a college wrestler. “I think my biggest problem was that I had this college wrestling mentality where everyone in the room has the same mindset; go, go, go, 100 percent. And I have kids tryout for the team who don’t have a speck of athletic ability, or aren’t fully committed as other guys,” says Coach Moran. But a lot has change since then. “Now I’m four years in and I’m a lot more reasonable. And I have a better understanding of the fact that kids will be kids,” he says.
Coach Moran has built a strong rapport with the team this season. The wrestling team members know one another better than any other team knows their teammates. “He’s a jokester,” Hatem revealed; “He can goof off at some times, but he’s serious when needed to be.” “He brings tenacity and intensity to the practice,” junior George Kassis confirmed; “He also brings a flickerball [for fun activities].” Coach Moran cares about the success of each of his players. “He knows everyone’s personal life,” said Rowe. “He’s a players’ coach,” says Honis.
The wrestlers of the varsity squad love Coach Moran, but none love him more than senior Mohammed Qubesey. “Multiple days throughout the week, I’d say at least four days a week, he calls me,” said Coach Moran. Most people would find this odd. “We’re not in a relationship,” Qubesey jokingly confirmed. Qubesey, affectionately referred to as Lulu and Boo-Boo by members of the wrestling team, calls Coach Moran the best coach he’s ever met. “He helps me a lot,” he added; “He helps me with wrestling. He makes me study, and my grades are good now.” “I’ve made a big impact on Lulu,” Coach Moran said; “ We have a great relationship. A lot of the conversations are just [Mohammed saying] ‘hey coach how you doing? What’re you up to? Thanks for everything you do for me.’ And ‘I’ll see you tonight [at practice].’”