College Wrestling; Castleton Hires a Legacy
College wrestling doesn’t exist at Castleton University……at least up till now, but that’s all about to change. Castleton
has fully committed to college wrestling with the hiring of former Mt. Anthony Union legend, Coach Scott Legacy.
Castleton doesn’t have to announce their intentions for their next (now numbering about 30) varsity sport. The minute you hire someone the caliber of Coach Legacy, we know exactly what you’re looking for… A Legacy. And I predict that’s exactly what they’ll get.
Perhaps the most dedicated and famous high school wrestling coach in the history of the sport, Scott Legacy, a former MAU and college wrestling standout, came back to his alma mater after graduating from Oswego State.
A very successful wrestler himself, he got into the sport in middle school because he wanted to watch his brother
wrestle and the Coach (as all good coaches should do) talked Scott into coming out for the team. He fell in love with the sport and all the dedication and commitment it required. Admittedly, he wasn’t the best wrestler (about .500) when he first started, but good coaching and ambition quickly brought him to the top of the Vermont High School Wrestling Podium in his Sophomore, Jr. and Sr. years.
In his college wrestling career, weighing in at 134 and 142, he won over 100 matches. In his senior year at Oswego State he was having the best year of his career but separated his shoulder two weeks before the nationals and couldn’t compete. Prior to that, he lost two NE semifinals matches in OT which he later used in his coaching
philosophy; about successes and failures… and about NOT making it to where he should have been and the reasons why. He used it with the kids who were talented because he didn’t want them to come up short – later in his career as he became successful as a coach he used his experiences with other wrestlers as his coaching platform.
The Early Days; Coaching At MAU
Coach Legacy took a teaching and coaching job at Whitesboro High School right out of college but for sake of brevity, we’ll go to the Cliff Notes version. He never made it there. He credits Sgt Ron Elwell as the catalyst that got back him to MAU. Prior to heading off to Whitesboro, he ran into Elwell and as Scott explained, “the program was faltering at the time and they were looking for a coach at MAU…..and he kind of laid a little bit of a guilt trip on me. The next thing I know, we’re in the Superintendent’s office talking about the job and well, the rest is history!” And what a history!
Initially, it was a struggle – his first year there were only 6-8 wrestlers and they won 6 matches finishing 6-8. MAU improved on that in Legacy’s second year to 8-8, and his third year they were 12-3-1. His fourth year as MAU Head Coach, Legacy won his first state title and he’s won ever since. He spent his time attracting and developing athletes and growing the numbers. His program graduated from 6 wrestlers to having a full Varsity and JV roster and then some. He was at the helm for a total of 31 years and won the State Title for an incredible 28 consecutive years! He leaves MAU with an unimaginable record of 698-36-2 overall, including eight New England Champion teams and eight more which were runner-up. That deserves an extra exclamation point!
Coaching Style; Three Elements
Legacy’s coaching philosophy won’t change much from high school to college although he’ll have the advantage of recruiting seasoned, talented wrestlers. He doesn’t stress winning, rather he develops winners. He is a fundamentalist and won’t accept anything other than complete devotion to your sport, a trait he displays in his preparation.
When you wrestle for Coach Legacy, there are three things he demands; Strong character, passion for wrestling (along with that the desire to work hard) and as he puts it, “Not have a chip on their shoulder and acknowledge there is always room for improvement. It has been and always will be, important to me…to be a coach and a teacher and be able to develop kids!”
His Expectations of Castleton Wrestlers
“First and foremost, kids have to be students, I’ll make sure of that. What I’m expecting of my wrestlers won’t change from MAU to Castleton. I want them to be of good character and know that they’re representing Castleton University, so when they’re seen around campus, people’s impression will be ‘Wow, they’re good kids, they’re respectful, they’re good students, they try hard’. I want Castleton Wrestling to be looked at as a program that’s a role model for other sports at Castleton as well as around our region and New England”.
“I also want kids from the state of Vermont to aspire to be Castleton University Spartans and be part of something special”. In that respect, I wish I could time warp a few decades to be part of this!
“I tell kids as I recruit them to expect me to be the kind of coach that’s going to be involved in their life outside of the wrestling room – I’ve been doing that for 31 years and that’s not going to go away, so in a sense they should expect ‘a 2nd father’. My goal is to recruit a kid and then be totally vested in him whether he’s 0-40 or 40-0 – I’m not going to recruit someone right behind him – I believe that every individual, if they buy into the program, can turn into somebody on the mat!”
Well, how hard do you think it is for a coach of Legacy’s status to recruit a team? No doubt a rhetorical question, I’m sure once the word was out that wrestlers started adjusting their plans. Although he couldn’t talk about it at the time, he did say he had commitments from kids all over New England, New York, New Jersey and Pa.
Since this story went to post, acceptances have gone out and some of the 2016-2017 wrestling team commits have been announced. College wrestling is alive and well at Castleton University. Look for that story soon!
Goals and Pressure of College Wrestling
It probably goes without saying that there will be tremendous expectations of Coach Legacy and a fair amount of pressure to succeed. Over the years, Scott has been approached to be involved in college wrestling programs, D1 asst. coach or D2 and D3 head coaching positions, but his kids were growing up and his heart was vested in MAU.
He’d heard about the Castleton job and also heard his name was being “floated about”. “It was a mutual thing of looking into each other. I was a bit skeptical at first but wanted to see what this was all about”. At that point, Legacy really didn’t think it was going to happen, but, “After a very productive meeting with with President Dave Wolk, Dean of Administration, Scott Dikeman and Associate Dean for Athletics & Recreation, Deanna Tyson, I drove home and thought to myself, I’d like to take this job”! I’m sure the feeling was mutual! Well low and behold, after the process was complete, surprise, surprise, surprise!
“We’re thrilled to welcome Scott as the first wrestling coach at Castleton,” said Deanna Tyson. “He is a nationally recognized wrestling coach who knows the sport intimately and we’re excited to see the success he’ll have at the collegiate level.”
Back to the Pressure. I asked Coach about it and how he felt. “Bring it, I love the pressure, in fact I thrive on it”. Anyone that knows Scott Legacy will attest to that. After being a successful coach for so many years, everyone is looking for him to continue his winning ways with Castleton.
But there’s the added pressure of the incidental issues like uniforms, equipment, offices, fundraising committee and all the rigors of starting a new project. “It’s not like I have to just concentrate on recruiting and coaching”. He continued, “It’s a whole new project and I’m excited about building the program from the ground up – it’s going to be a heck of a challenge. My goal is to be competitive next year – right out of the gate – to shock some people, and to beat someone we’re not supposed to beat!”
Hard to Walk Away But I’m Ready
As mentioned earlier, Coach Legacy has been approached many times about other positions, but the time and circumstances just weren’t right. But now it’s not so far from home and I have to imagine that Castleton is giving him
complete support to run the program. I do know for sure that it’s in the works for the wrestling room and offices to be completed and Coach Legacy has his staff in place. Steve Forrest, Jeff Whitesell and Dean Pierce will travel with him to Castleton.
I asked him if he had any regrets about leaving MAU? “No regrets but I’ll miss MAU and I’ll miss the opportunity to develop a kid from the ground up or to be able to save a kid”. He went on to talk about how he’s leaving the program. “I’m leaving the program as strong as it’s ever been, the cupboards are fully stocked and I feel good about where it’s been left”.
“It was a shock when I first announced I was leaving, but everyone wished me well and is happy for me – on my going away night it was a dual with Bishop Hendricken from RI and they got stuck in a terrible storm, but over 1000 people showed up and stayed for the night and gave me a tremendous standing ovation”.
“When I go out in public and invariably see people that recognize me – the first comment is “good luck, Coach” and the second is “how’s Mt Anthony going to be next year?””
Coach Legacy also got a standing ovation at the State Tournament when his new position was announced.
MAU’s loss is Castleton’s gain, but that is a natural progression in any coaching career. It’s just surprising that anyone as prolific a coach as Scott Legacy didn’t get scooped up much sooner. MAU is fortunate to have had him for so long! Good luck at Castleton, Coach, the eyes of the wrestling world are on you!
College Wrestling; Castleton Hires a Legacy Upper Valley Sports