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Dietrich inducted into L-L Hall
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
It was perhaps fitting that Manheim Township won the Lancaster-Lebanon League Tournament’s team crown last weekend.
The wrestlers who made it happen came up through the junior high ranks with Dale Dietrich as their head coach.
Prior to the finals on Saturday at Conestoga Valley High School, Dietrich was one of five who were inducted into the L-L League Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame for his long career as a junior high coach, both at Warwick and Manheim Township. Joining him in the 2012 Class included contributors Mike Clair and Dave Byrne, coach John Felix and wrestler/coach Arlen Mummau.
For Dietrich, it was an honor that truly touched him.
"I guess next to my kids getting married and the birth of my grandkids … being named to this is really a great honor for me especially since I was just a junior high coach my whole career," he said. "It’s totally unexpected. Most of the people that get honored in this are high school coaches or high school wrestlers that went to States or something like that. So to be included in this group is just an incredible honor."
Dietrich certainly left his mark with a lot of those wrestlers who went to States while coaching with the junior high team at Warwick for 32 years — 22 as the skipper — and then taking that same role at Manheim Township for three years (2008-11).
"When I thought my career was just about over, (friend and coach) Joe Narkiewicz asked me if I’d come down to Township and coach there," Dietrich said. "My wife (Cathy) encouraged me and said, ‘This will be a nice opportunity for you,’ and I went down there and had three really good years. When you have a wife that comes to all your meets and supports you there … she’s been wonderful. What a great support."
Over the years, those meets have added up into the hundreds. But Dietrich’s hard work paid off in the form of coaching a total of 79 individual E-town Optimist champions (72 at Warwick). Seventeen of his former wrestlers eventually went on to place at States, while 15 took home District Three championships.
During his own wrestling days, he lettered at 145 pounds for Moravian College, from where he earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics. After serving for two years in the Army, Dietrich started his teaching career at Warwick and soon thereafter became an assistant coach for the junior high Warriors under Bob Derr.
"That got me off to a great start," Dietrich recalled. "I was an assistant with (coach Derr) for my first eight years and then when he left to become involved with field hockey is when I took over."
Terry Kauffman, a conference champ as a college wrestler who later became Warwick’s athletic director, was one of the assistants who joined Dietrich on his staff over the years.
"I had so many great assistants, wonderful kids to work with and the Mat Club at Warwick was absolutely wonderful all the years I was there," Dietrich said. "And being able to coach my own son (David) for three years, that was a blessing."
Dietrich also considered it a blessing to have Jerry McDonald as Warwick’s varsity coach, under whom the Warriors had a 10-year run of domination in the L-L League.
"I wouldn’t be here if he wasn’t a very good coach," Dietrich said. "It didn’t matter if I had (72) E-town champs if your high school coach doesn’t win. That’s where you get all those District champs and State place-winners."
Following a two-year stint as a junior high assistant with John Mousetis at Warwick, he stepped away from the mats in 2007, but then returned a short time later to coach in the Blue Streaks’ program.
"They’re great kids. They’re like sons to me," Dietrich said of the current Blue Streaks’ high school wrestlers. "It’s been a great ride. I’d still be coaching except I’ve got three grandkids now and that changes everything."
These days, Dietrich has given up coaching takedowns to spend time with Brady, 3, Hayley, 1, and Fiona, who is five months old. His grandkids, along with his wife, Cathy, and children, Amy and David, were all at Conestoga Valley last Saturday to help Dietrich celebrate his special night.
"It’s hard to express how wonderful you feel inside to be honored by your peers," Dietrich said. "Again, it’s a very unexpected honor." More DIETRICH, page B-5