Well-thought-of coaches Ishman, Walters built more than just teams
There are two names in small print whose resignations went before the school board on Monday.
Their marks on two programs have been immeasurable.
Both have coached for over ten years as assistants and, most recently, head coaches.
In their own words, for Warren swim coach Jeff Walters and Youngsville wrestling coach Scott Ishman, it was all about helping their athletes becoming better, more well-rounded people.
“To help them be a better person in life,” said Ishman. “Helping to mold them as a young adult is much more important than wins and losses. If we got a lot of good wins, and medals, that was just a bonus.”
He said he adopted that mentoring-type coaching philosophy from his own coaches, including long-time Youngsville wrestling coach Tony Fera and Andy Horn.
“Of course it meant a lot to me being from Youngsville also,” said Ishman, who was head high school wrestling coach for the past three seasons, after coaching junior high and youth wrestling in Youngsville.
It was a surreal ending for Ishman, with a senior-ladened group that went to the District 10 Class AA Team Tournament, and having his son, Zach, the last Youngsville wrestler standing at the District 10 Individual Championships.
“Zach was the reason I started coaching, but that group was the reason I kept going,” said Ishman, who was with senior Jaykup Durlin at the PIAA Class AA Tournament in 2013, and with him this season when Durlin wrestled to a packed house at Youngsville High School two days after the death of his father, Darwin Durlin, as the result of a house fire.
Despite being the third best team in the section, Ishman was named Section 1-AA and District 10 Class AA Coach of the Year at the respective tournaments.
He was told he was voted Coach of the Year because he molded the Eagles into a family.
Family is also the reason he’s resigning, because he wants to watch his daughter play high school basketball for the Lady Eagles. As a freshman, Ali Ishman’s Youngsville girls basketball team advanced to the District 10 Class A playoffs.
“I don’t want to call it resigning,” said Ishman. “I actually called it my retirement. Resigning means moving on to (a better situation with wrestling) or because you didn’t like it, and neither are true.”
Ishman said he will be around, supporting the Eagles he has coached since kindergarten that are still on the team.
If Ishman isn’t a positive enough person, Warren swim coach Jeff Walters would text or call the newspaper every time a swimmer did anything positive, and that was a lot.
He saw a lot of successes through his 10 years coaching, and five years as head coach.
“It’s always awesome to coach the kids you know are going… to college to go on to (swim at) that next level,” said Walters, “but it’s also rewarding to have that kid who swam two lengths of the pool successfully for the first time in their lives.”
The first sentence of the District 10 Class AAA Championships preview story says it all: “Warren swim coach Jeff Walters knows anything can happen at the District 10 Class AAA championships.”
He has coached District 10 champions, including Elin Smith last year, and state qualifiers (in Class AAA with a near Class AA-sized school), including Bennett Steber last month in the 100-yard breaststroke. Every time a school record fell, he’d text the picture the next morning from practice at the Warren County YMCA pool at 6 a.m., when they took the former recordholder’s name off the wall.
“Jeff was what pulled the whole team and coaching together,” said Steber. “We’ve always had a good group of coaches, all with their own specialties, and Jeff was the one who brought all of that full circle and organized how we trained. He is always in a good mood about swimming and always has something to say about everyone’s swims at meets. He’s the kind of coach that knows all of our times as well, if not better than we do, even with the over 50 people he has to keep track of.”
Walters said the timing was right.
“The timing was right in my personal life as well as coaching,” said Walters, saying a highlight was coaching his own son and daughter, but highlights don’t stop there. “This year I looked at the group of seniors… I can’t think of a better class to follow out the door, but at the same time the juniors and sophomores coming up, I can’t think of a better group to leave the reigns to. They are keeping the ball rolling and that was the goal all along. There’s also a lot of good young coaching talent coming through to take it to the next level.”
Walters’ motivation was inspiring: from attending head-shaving rallies before his swimmers competed at districts, to promoting swimming through events like his swimmers vs. “Regular Joes,” to motivational speakers like Allegany, N.Y. Paralympian swimmer Martha Ruether.
All of that amounted to a high school swim team that was closer to 20 kids in Walters’ first season as head coach to 50 this past season.