Dean Schmanski has a great deal of enthusiasm when it comes to the sport of wrestling. Even more so when it comes to wrestling at Carson High School.
That explains why the 1979 Carson High graduate never thought twice about accepting the position as head coach at his alma mater last month. Even though he now lives in Reno, the 42-year-old Schmanski jumped at the opportunity.
"I love the sport, love the kids," he said. "I'm a full-time coach now and it's just great. And you know, I don't think I'd want to coach anywhere else."
The opening became available in August when Tim McCarthy resigned as wrestling coach and head counselor at Carson High, citing a conflict over family health care benefits. McCarthy has since taken a job as counselor at Galena High.
Now, Schmanski has inherited a program that ranks among the leaders in Northern Nevada.
"I have a lot of respect for coach McCarthy; he left a great program," said Schmanski, who spent time as an assistant under McCarthy in 1993-95.
The Senators have the potential to field a formidable lineup because they return several returnees from a team that was undefeated in duals and finished third at the Northern 4A Regional Tournament last season. Among the top returnees are Eric Aguilera, 30-13 and sixth at state; Paul Carter, sixth at state; Chris Ceccarelli, who won 20 matches; Chris Kotter, third at state; Joe Roman, who won 26 matches and placed third at regionals; Joe Neiman, fourth at regionals; Nick Shine, 27-4 and third at state; and Chris White, fourth at regionals.
Schmanski is equally enthused about the support of the community he has seen so far.
"The community and parents have really been supportive," he said. "The parents have gotten together to put together our Nevada Day fund-raiser and we're going to hold a rummage sale sometime in November. That's important because I know from my own experiences, being in wrestling for so many years, supportive parents make for a successful program."
Schmanski grew up in Carson City, so he is certainly no stranger to the community or its wrestling program. He was a member of teams that won successive zone tournament team championship between 1977 and 1979 (they won a fourth in '80). He was also an individual state champion his junior year and state runner-up as a senior. His younger brother, Charlie Schmanski, was also a state tournament gold medal winner for the Senators.
"I wrestled on the same team with Dave Lowe and Mike Whitcome, so it's almost like a family reunion," Schmanski said, smiling.
Lowe is now an assistant on Carson's coaching staff and Whitcome's son, Micah, will be involved with the program this season. Schmanski indicated he is still looking for another assistant coach (interested applicants may contact athletic director Ron McNutt at the high school).
After leaving Carson, Schmanski wrestled at Boise State. He placed second as a freshman in the 150-pound weight class at the Big Sky Conference Championships.
"I was one match away from nationals and I should have beaten the kid," he said with a smile. "Then my sophomore year, I went up one weight class to 158s. I was something like 10-1 and I won one tournament, then I broke my thumb against a kid that ended up taking eighth in the nation."
Schmanski cut weight to drop back down to 150 pounds for his junior season, with disappointing results.
"I wrestled, but I was injured a lot and didn't do real well because of the weight reduction," he said. "Then my senior year, I decided to redshirt so I could try and get healthy."
In the meantime, his scores got even stronger in the classroom.
"I ended up with a (academic) scholarship. That's why it's important for these kids to keep up their grades because if something happens to you in wrestling, you always have the grades to fall back on," said Schmanski, who graduated with a degree in business administration.
His interests eventually turned away from wrestling at Boise State.
"I got involved with school politics, became a senator for the school and never came back to wrestling," he said. "So I had the best of both worlds. I had the sports and I had the education."
The Senators open their season Dec. 4 with a dual meet against Wooster in Reno. Their home opener will be the Capitol City Duals tournament on Dec. 7.
"I'm very happy to be coaching and I'm very enthusiastic about the upcoming season," Schmanski said. "I understand we have a lot coming back. You never know what's going to happen with injuries and all that, but my goal for this season would be to win zone. I know it's possible."
Dave Price is a sports writer for the Nevada Appeal