Courtesy of Upstate New York State Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame of the Upstate New York State Chapter would like to announce their new inductees into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, this year’s recipients of the Outstanding American Award, and the Medal of Courage. The Upstate New York Chapter is dedicated to the main goals of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame which are (1) recognizing excellence in wrestling in the Upstate New York area; (2) preserving the rich and colorful history of wrestling in New York and (3) inspiring future generations of New Yorkers to participate in one of the oldest and best sports in the world.
This year we take great pride in recognizing the individuals who will be honored on September 17, 2017 at the Double Tree Hotel in East Syracuse, New York.
The individuals who will be receiving the Lifetime Service Award at this occasion are:
In addition, this year the Upstate New York Chapter will present Murry Dimon with the Medal of Courage Award, and Charles Palmer, a chef and hotelier, and Stefan (Steve) Banach, a retired Colonel in the United States Army with our Outstanding American Award.
Robert Koshinski will be presented with the annual Stanbro Media Award for his work promoting wrestling in the Empire State and Carson (Cork) Armstrong will be given the Volunteer Award.
For more on the honorees, see below.
Wayne Carroll began his wrestling career at Goshen High School; and has distinguished himself as an outstanding wrestler, coach and referee. His dedication and service to the sport has continued for over 50 years.
As a wrestler, Wayne earned championship credentials. He is a three-time League Champion and in 1975 Wayne became a Section IX Champion at 145 pounds. Wayne placed 5th at the NY State Wrestling Championships helping Section IX to its first and only NY State Sectional team title.
As an official Wayne, has served Sections I and IX, as well as the State Officials Association with skill and integrity for 38 years. He was selected to and officiated in 44 Division I and Division II Sectional Championships, also officiating at the NYS Wrestling Championships 10 times. In further service to the referee ranks, Wayne has held different leadership positions in various official organizations including the President-Elect, President and Past President for the NYS Wrestling Officials Association during the years 2004-2010.
Wayne is the recipient of various awards and honors related to wrestling. He has been inducted into both his High School and College Hall-of-Fames. Wayne was further honored with the Section IX John Bell Lifetime Service Award, 2006; the NYS Wrestling Officials Outstanding Service and Dedication Award, 2011; Friends of Section IX Official-of-the-Year, 2013; and has received a number one ranking of all the officials in Section IX an incredible 15 times.
Steve Fischbein is a highly-regarded teacher, wrestler and coach, who is an inspiration to all that have taken the time to get to know him. He leads by example, projects an infectious aura of confidence and is dedicated to developing excellence and success through sportsmanship, skilled coaching and strategic team play.
As a wrestler, Steve earned championship titles throughout his high school and college career. He was a four-time league champion, a Section IX champion – who placed 4th at the NYS Wrestling Championships and a Junior National Greco Roman 4th place winner. At the college level, Steve was a letter winner at both SUNY Albany and Brockport and an Empire State Games Gold medalist in Greco Roman, 1986.
Coach Steve Fischbein has successfully developed both individual and team champions through inspirational teachings and strategic team play. He possesses an incredible record of achievement. The Fischbein-lead teams have compiled a superior record of 323—69 against some of the strongest competition in New York State and beyond. Steve’s teams have amassed multiple team titles and distinguished themselves through recognized State-Level Rankings. They have won nine Section IX team titles at the Sectional Championships. Steve coached eleven different teams that were highly ranked in the NYS large school ranking system. His teams earned the number ONE ranking in New York twice, 2000 & 2014; attained the number THREE ranking twice, 1999 & 2009; and seven other teams were ranked in the top ten. Steve coached 49 Sectional Champions, who went on to win all-state accolades 27 times including two State Champions: Mike Mormile and Jamie Franco.
Steve is the recipient of several prestigious honors and awards related to wrestling. In 1999, he received the National Wrestling Coaches Association Award for NY State Coach-of-the-Year. Steve is a three-time beneficiary of Section IX Coach-of-the-Year award; 2009, 2013 and 2014. Coach Fischbein will be inducted into the NYS Wrestling Coaches Hall-of-Fame at a ceremony held during the 2017 NYS Wrestling Championships.
On the LeRoy’s Central School website the following statement is made about athletics, “The LeRoy Central Schools’ interscholastic athletic program is built on a strong tradition of excellence and pride. Our student-athletes are held to a high standard both on and off the field to be the best they can be. Our coaches are dedicated and offer an outstanding opportunity for all of our student-athletes.” This statement certainly epitomizes Robert Gately and the outstanding career that he has enjoyed at LeRoy. Bob became the head wrestling coach in 1975 and served in that capacity until 2008 and has since returned in 2014 as the assistant coach for his former wrestler, Zac Condidorio, who was a runner-up in the New York State Championships for Bob in 2005.
During his 33 years as the varsity coach Bob Gately sported an impressive 365 – 82 win/loss record (82% winning percentage) in one of the strongest wrestling sections in the Empire State. One of the highlights of Bob’s career was a decade of excellence (1981 to 1990) in which his teams won 10 consecutive Livingston County Athletic Association Tournament Team Championships which were part of the seventeen LCAA Championships that Bob’s team had won during his tenure at LeRoy. In addition, Bob has coached 82 individual Livingston County League Champions and thirty-six Section V Class Champions. Jason Beaumont, one of coach Gately’s former wrestlers stated, “A winning record is certainly an important gauge of a coach’s success, but the true success is the knowledge that the student-athlete takes off the mat and applies to the real world after wrestling. Bob Gately taught me that hard work, dedication and respect for others are the necessary building blocks in life.” Moreover, Bob has been responsible for the development of many outstanding wrestlers who participated in the NYS Championships – Steve Balsamo – 4th – 1993; Zac Condidorio – 2nd – 2005; Chad Condidorio – 3rd – 2007 to mention a few.
Furthermore, to add to all his coaching accomplishments, Bob served as Section V Class Chairman for 19 years (1987-2006) and was selected as the Section V Class Coach of the Year in 1987, 1995 and 2002. In 2008, he was given the LeRoy HS Recognition Award for Contributions and Support to Student Athletes and was also LCAA Coach of the Year. Section V honored Coach Gately in 2014 by inducting him into their Hall of Fame, and in 2015 Bob was installed in the LCAA Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Bob and his wife Shelly live in Byron, New York, and celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this year. They are the proud parents of four children, Melissa, Jennifer, William and Steven.
The Upstate New York Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame is honored and takes great pleasure in welcoming Bob to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for the Upstate New York Chapter.
Every Section in New York State is blessed with those individuals who dedicate their lives to promoting and developing the great sport of wrestling. Richard “Rick” Gumble embodies that person in Section IV. Rick’s selflessness, passion, perseverance, dedication, and willingness to go the extra mile to enhance wrestling is unparalleled in the southern tier and all areas of the state. Those attributes exemplify what it means to be considered for the great honor of being a “Hall of Famer” and why the Upstate New York Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame is bestowing that honor on Coach Gumble.
Rick began his successful wrestling career in Maine-Endwell High School, where he is a member of their Athletic Hall of Fame, under the direction of Regan Beers. Following graduation Rick remained in the area and wrestled for 2 years at Broome Community College. While at Broome he was the 1978 NJCAA Regional Finalist and in 1979 NJCAA Regional Champion. Rick coached at Maine Endwell after being the BCC coach for 1 year and then joined Hall of Fame Coach Steve Erber at Binghamton University as his volunteer assistant coach. At Binghamton Rick was influential in the development of his brother, Mark Gumble, who became a Division III National Champion at the 150-pound weight class in 1988 for the Colonials, and many others wrestlers on Coach Erber’s team. In 1990 Rick became the head coach at Johnson City and then moved on to Chenango Forks in 1995. His record as head coach is 272-96 and he has coached 58 individual Section IV champions. Furthermore, he has coached 36 individual New York State place winners, 14 New York State finalist and six New York State champions which included Matt Sorchinsky, Paul Lyman, John Alexander, Troy Nickerson, Jesse Villella and Kyle Kelly. Coach Gumble’s teams have won 4 consecutive overall Section IV team titles at Johnson City (1990-1994) and were victorious in 4 Section IV Dual Meet Team titles from the year 2008 to 2011.
Furthermore, Coach Gumble has been active with USA Wrestling serving as the state coach since 1990 and on the USAW Board of Directors (1996-2008). He has also been the head coach of the New York Junior/Cadet teams and acted as the Director of the NYS Freestyle and Greco Championships from 1990 to 2015. In 2009 he was selected USA Wrestling & United States Olympic Developmental Coach of the year and in 2016 USA Wrestling Kids/Cadet Person of the year. In addition, Rick has assisted as the co-chairman of Section IV wrestling with Rick Armstrong.
Rick and his wife, Dr. Andrea Gumble, reside in Binghamton, and are the proud parents of three children, daughters Livia and Alanna and their son, Logan who wrestled for his father this season.
The Upstate New York Chapter is honored to welcome Rick as a new member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for his many accomplishments and service to the sport of wrestling.
When someone speaks about the history of Section III wrestling many great names are mentioned – Leo Johnson at Baldwinsville, Wayne Ferguson in Beaver River, Don New from Canastota, Neal Aubel at Lowville, Roy Hunt in Sandy Creek, Gene Mills at Syracuse University and Phoenix and Jim Howard at Oswego State. These names and many more are associated with greatness in wrestling and will endure forever in the strong and colorful history of Section III. But we would be neglectful if we did not add the name of Bill Kays of Mexico to this illustrious list of individuals.
Bill commenced his coaching career in 1989 at Mexico and has been there until 2015 when he officially retired. During that tenure, the Tigers of Mexico Academy and Central School have never experienced a losing season. Coach Kays’ life-time record is 363-130-2 which calculates into a 73.7 winning percentage. This is a great accomplishment since Bill has competed in one of the toughest Division II Sections in the state and is known for seeking out the best competition for his squads. Troy Tooley, his assistant coach for many years, stated that “Bill teaches his wrestlers to take the lessons of hard work, devotion and perseverance taught in wrestling into the world to find them success in life.” Coach Derrick Smith added, “He possesses the necessary integrity to always do things the “right way” - no shortcuts, no cheating, no exception and this accounts for the success of his wrestlers and the Mexico program.” To complement his coaching, Bill was a very successful and accomplished science teacher in the district, teaching regents class & AP chemistry and physics.
In his first varsity year as coach his team proceeded to win the league title and one of his wrestlers, Don Duell, was runner-up in the New York State championships. The honors just kept increasing for Coach Kays throughout the remaining years of his outstanding career. His teams were Onondaga High School League Dual Meet Champions for 13 years, Section III Dual Meet Tournament Champions in 1998 and 2015 and runner-ups in the Dual Meet Championship in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2014 quite an achievement for person who initially was only interested in coaching tennis. In addition, Bill’s teams have won (4) Section III Tournament championships in 1999, 2005, 2006 and 2015 and had 42 Section III Champions. On the state level Kays’ team won the New York State Tournament Team Championships in 2015 and were runner-ups in 2014. While competing at the state championships he has had 3 state champions (Trevor Allard, Theo Powers and Jacob Woolson) and 10 state finalists.
Bill has also won many individual coaching accolades which include – Onondaga League Coach of the Year nine times; Section III Coach of the Year Award in 2014 and 2015, the National Federation High School District I Coach of the Year – 2015 and the National Federation High School New York State Coach of the Year Award in 2015. He has been very active on the administrative side of wrestling as well serving as the OHSL Representative on the Section III Wrestling Committee and is still working as the Section III Assistant Wrestling Coordinator and member of the New York State Wrestling Committee after his retirement.
In recognition of all his achievements and service to the sport of wrestling, the Upstate New York Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame is proud to add Bill Kays to our list of honored inductees.
In Section IV during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s perhaps one of the names that brought trepidation to all light weight wrestlers was Penrith. In this time frame the Penrith brothers, Brad and Bret, caused many wrestlers and their coaches to lose a night’s sleep. Arguably one of the best brother combinations in the history of wrestling in Section IV, the Penriths won tournament after tournament. Many wrestling historians were comparing them to Mark and Randy Payne from Sidney in the 1960’s. Today the Upstate New York Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame is proud to honor one of the greatest wrestlers to represent the section, Brad Penrith. During his four years at Windsor High School Brad finished fourth, third and first in the New York State Wrestling Tournament that was held at the Onondaga War Memorial in Syracuse, NY.
Following graduation Brad left Windsor High School and joined the legendary Iowa Hawkeye Coach Dan Gable and proceeded to accomplish much more. In 1986 wrestling as a sophomore at Iowa, Brad won the Big Ten Championships and received the Outstanding Wrestler award at the conference meet. Then he proceeded to win the 126 pound weight class at the NCAA championship which was held in Iowa City. He defeated Dennis Semmel from the US Military Academy 9-4 and helped Iowa win yet another NCAA title for Gable. As a junior and senior at Iowa Brad each year won the Big Ten championships and was runner-up each year in the NCAA championships. Penrith also made his mark on the international level before retiring in 1996. He captured a silver medal at the 1991 World Championships and was the gold medalist at the Pan American Games in 1989 and 1991. In addition, Brad was third at the 1994 Goodwill Games; was a two-time Sunkist Open champion; took the Roger Coulon title in France in 1992 and 1996; was a member of the 1989 U. S. World Team; and took third at the World Cup in 1990 and 1991. Furthermore, he placed third at the 1996 Olympic Team Trials; won the U. S. Nationals three times--1989, 1991, and 1993--and was second at the 1992 Final Olympic Wrestle-Off.
Brad also had an outstanding career as a college coach. He served as the graduate assistant coach at Iowa after graduation in 1988, assistant coach at Arizona State for 2 years, and then worked at Boise State for 1 year. From Boise, he worked from 1992 to 1997 as the assistant coach at the University of Nebraska for Tim Neumann and moved on to be the assistant coach at the University of Northern Iowa before he was elevated to the head coach position for the Panthers. In 2001 Brad was selected by Amateur Wrestling Magazine as the Rookie Coach of the Year. Moreover, in the summer of 1999 he was the head coach of the United States team that took the bronze medal in team competition at the Junior World Freestyle Championships in Sydney, Australia. In addition, in 2005 Brad was inducted into the Dan Gable Museum’s Hall of Fame. Brad’s success as a wrestler and coach exemplifies the very best in our sport.
After leaving coaching, Brad joined Mudd Adverting in Cedar Falls, Iowa and has embarked on a very successful career in that field. Brad and his wife, Laura live in Cedar Falls with their three children, Gabriel, Jacob and Grace. The Upstate New York Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame is proud and privileged to induct Brad into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Murry Dimon’s life has been an example of the true strength of the human spirit. Blind since birth, Murry has overcome many obstacles to become the person we honor today. He has been a man of achievements in all phases of his life. Born with a twin brother in Governor, New York in 1950, Murry would later move to Batavia, where he attended the New York School for the Blind (1955-71) and earned his high school diploma. He continued his education at Genesee Community College(GCC), graduating in 1973 with an Associates Degree in Retail Marketing.
While in high school, Murry chose to involve himself in the sport of wrestling and quickly found success. A four-year member of his high school wrestling team, he achieved an approximate overall win-loss record of 56-20-0. In addition, Murry was named “Outstanding Wrestler” of his high school team. In college, he was a member of both the wrestling and cross country teams and once again found continued success. In his second year of college wrestling, he led the team in wins with eleven. In the NJCAA Region III Wrestling Tournament, Murry placed third, which qualified him to compete in the NJCAA National Championships. His only loss in the regional tourney was to the eventual national champion in his weight class. Furthermore, Murry Dimon’s visual impairment did not prove to be a barrier in his participation in cross country. The only difference between Murry and his teammates was that he had to run tethered to another person. He still holds the Eastern Athletic Association for the Blind record in the two-man run for two miles (11 min. & 3.75 sec.). His partially sighted brother was attached to him on the record setting run. Furthermore, Murry received the “Coaches Award” while a student-athlete at GCC. In 2013, for his significant accomplishments in sports, Murry was inducted into the GCC Athletics Hall of Fame. At that time, it was stated in a publication that inclusion in the GCC Athletics Hall of Fame is the highest athletic honor that GCC can bestow on alumni.
Mr. Dimon also has been very successful in business. For 42 years, he has owned and been a working manager of vending stands in local, state, county and federal buildings in New York State. Possessing a warm and engaging personality, Murry has been viewed as a leader among his peers, which resulted in him being elected to represent Western New York Blind Vendors at quarterly meetings in the state.
Married to wife Patsy, Murry has two children of his own and a blended family of six children. His son Charles was a Section VI wrestling champion, received his degree from SUNY- Brockport and presently teaches physical education in Michigan. His son Greg works in the agriculture business in the Batavia area.
Murry’s zest for living life to its fullest remains strong. Today, his hobbies include reading (braille & audio) and bowling where he serves as vice president of his local bowling league. Moreover, Murry’s passion for learning is still evident. Recently he began taking computer classes so that he can incorporate more technology into his business.
The Upstate NY Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame is honored to present Murry Dimon with its’ Medal of Courage. Murry's actions in the face of life’s obstacles have been awe inspiring.
When a soldier leaves his home, his family and the safety of his country to serve in combat six times during his career, we can never pay enough recognition and honor to that individual. The Upstate New York Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame would like to take this opportunity today to recognize and pay homage to a true U.S. Army Ranger combat hero who also has established himself as an outstanding wrestler and an integral member of a family who has excelled on the wrestling mats for their country. It is for those reasons and many more that we pay tribute to Steve Banach, the older brother of Olympic Gold Medal winners Lou and Ed Banach. As retired Major General Kenneth C. Leuer stated in his letter of endorsement for Steve, “no matter the mission, Steve Banach has stayed true to his wrestling values of dedication, mission accomplishment mindset, physical toughness and leading others in the pursuit of excellence.” Steve epitomizes what we want to teach our students, athletes, and youth in America.
Steve’s odyssey as a wrestler began in his high school days at Port Jervis High School where he wrestled under the superb leadership of Coach Mark Faller. Following his stellar high school career, Steve headed to Clemson University, where as a freshman, he was already exhibiting the characteristics of a leader by being selected as the captain of his wrestling team. While at Clemson, Steve was the ACC Conference runner-up in the 190 pound weight class but decided to transfer to Iowa University the next year where he wrestled for legendary Coach Dan Gable and joined his brothers. In 1984 Steve finished 2nd at the Eastern Regional Olympic trials and qualified for the 1984 final Olympic trials. In 1984 Steve was also a member of the elite All-Army wrestling team while serving as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 82d Airborne Division.
After graduating from Iowa University, Steve embarked on a distinguished career in the U. S. Army attaining the rank of Colonel. Lieutenant General and Superintendent at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Robert Caslen, proclaimed in his support letter that, “Steve is a tremendous leader who served his country with honor and distinction in the U.S. Army from 1983 to 2010. During his Army career, he served in six combat zones and participated in four invasions in support of our national policies and objectives. He is a Distinguished Member of the 75th Ranger Regiment. While in command of the 3rd Ranger Battalion from 2001-2003, he led U.S. Army Rangers during a historic night combat parachute assault into Afghanistan on October 19, 2001, as the “spearhead” for the Global War on Terror after the events of September 11th. During the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Steve led Army Rangers in a second combat parachute assault into Al Anbar province in western Iraq, where ISIS is fighting United States and Iraqi forces today.” Throughout his military career Steve has received numerous military awards and decorations to include the Bronze Star Medal with “Valor Device” for heroism under fire in combat. Steve crafted many professional publications during his career. In 2015, he and his brothers penned the book, “Uncommon Bonds: A Journey in Optimism,” an inspiring and motivating story of the three Banach brothers’ journey to success. It is the honor and privilege of the Upstate New York Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame that we present Colonel (Retired) Steve Banach with the Outstanding American Award for 2017.
Celebrated chef and acclaimed hospitality entrepreneur Charlie Palmer has built and developed a hospitality group of thirteen notable restaurants and three award-winning boutique hotels across the country. He started his career at Sherburne-Earlville High School, under the guidance of neighbor and home economics teacher Sharon Craine, who pushed him to develop his skills and pursue a culinary education. While learning technique in the kitchen, Palmer embraced teamwork on the mat, wrestling on the school team under the tutelage of esteemed Hall of Fame coach, Richard “Pete” Hausrath. Charlie hailed from the village of Smyrna, New York, which had produced two New York State Wrestling Champions (Rich Koenig – 1965 and Jerry Seifert – 1969) Though Charlie was very active in several sports, he excelled in wrestling, highlighted by his defeat of the defending “super heavyweight” champion from Sidney, propelling Sherburne-Earlville to a 1-point victory and the Susquenango League’s crown. Palmer’s work with Coach Hausrath developed his natural work ethic, later driving him to grow his national organization, as well as focus on the development of this next generation of chefs, just as he was mentored within his team and school.
After his time at Sherburne-Earlville, Charlie attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, which he has continued to support, including a time on their board of trustees and tenure as the chairman. He moved to New York City following his graduation where he earned three stars from the New York Times at the age of 23 while Executive Chef at The River Café. Shortly thereafter, he opened his first restaurant, Aureole, his organization’s flagship which is now entering its 29th year and inspired a sister location in Las Vegas, now in its 18th year. Other openings including Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington DC, Las Vegas, New York, and Reno grew the Charlie Palmer Group in subsequent years, with a new location in Napa forthcoming later this year. He has boutique hotels in San Francisco (Mystic Hotel, which also houses Burritt Room + Tavern) and in Wine Country: Harvest Inn by Charlie Palmer with restaurant Harvest Table, and Hotel Healdsburg, which is home to the critically-acclaimed restaurant Dry Creek Kitchen. In addition to other properties in New York, Upper Story by Charlie Palmer, Crimson & Rye, and Charlie Palmer at the Knick, Charlie has grown a distinctive portfolio of fine dining establishments that prioritize exceptional American fare and sincere hospitality.
Bob Koshinski has excelled in many areas of the media world, but one thread runs throughout his stellar career, that is the advancement and promotion of wrestling on all levels of the sport. Bob was a Section VI Class AA champion in the 138 pound weight class and then wrestled on the University of Dayton’s team. After college Bob returned to Niagara Wheatfield as a coach, and between 1978 to 1983 Bob was head of programming for the Niagara Frontier Cable TV Company. While working in that capacity Bob produced the first televised high school wrestling match in Western New York.
In 1983 Bob joined Buffalo’s WKBW-TV as a sports reporter and increased the coverage of high school wrestling through highlights and features for the nightly newscast. In addition, he generated a high school wrestling top ten team ranking, and at the season’s end he televised the presentation of the winning trophy.
In 1991 Koshinski became the Executive Producer and Program Director for the Empire Sports Network; this started the televising of the NYSPHSAA wrestling finals. Bob and Hall of Famer, Eric Knuutila did the play-by-play of the championship which received outstanding reviews for the promotion of wrestling in New York State. In 1998 Bob produced and anchored the 1998 NWCA All-Star Classic broadcast at the University of Buffalo which aired on the Empire Sports Network and was broadcast throughout the country. In addition, Bob has had the honor of being the Voice of the University of Buffalo Bulls wrestling team on ESPN 3 for the past 2 years.
Bob has created the Niagara Wheatfield Wrestling website and has photographed and produced videos of Section VI wrestling matches which are distributed to local newspapers and websites. Furthermore, in 2012, he developed the All Sports WNY website and dedicated nine pages to Section VI and NYSPHSAA wrestling which included tournament photo galleries. Koshinski also re-edited and posted the video of Renaldo Rodriquez-Spencer’s “Flying Squirrel” which had over 961,000 views.
Furthermore, Bob has been recognized and honored for all his contributions to wrestling. He has received the Niagara Frontier Wrestling Officials’ Association Contributor Award, was recognized by the WNY Wrestling Coaches Association for his dedication and support of Section VI, worked on the DiPaolo Scholarship Board as Committee Chairman, was inducted into the Niagara Falls Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2016 Bob was inducted into the WNY Wrestling Coaches’ Hall of Fame for his contributions and coverage of Section VI wrestling. It is with great pleasure that the Upstate New York Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame presents Bob Koshinski with the 2017 Stanbro Media Award.
Every successful wrestling program starts with a strong youth program and certainly Carson “Cork” Armstrong demonstrates this important element of development. Cork started his wrestling career at Johnson City High School wrestling 98 pounds for Hall of Fame Coach Jack Stanbro, who was in his second year at Johnson City at the time. Cork got his first taste of teaching youth wrestling because Coach Stanbro would ask his varsity wrestlers to come in and help with the instruction of the younger wrestlers in the “Mat Rat” program. Cork spoke favorably about Coach Stanbro and the time that he spent with Armstrong’s off-season development in Greco and Freestyle; this experience helped to build the foundation of Cork’s involvement in youth wrestling and the feeling that Cork has about giving back to a sport that means so much to him.
Cork attended and wrestled at Broome Community College and Keystone College following graduation from Johnson City. In 1992 Cork took over the leadership of the Johnson City Youth Program from Barry Felton when Barry’s son, Ryan, went into 7th grade and started wrestling on the high school level . Cork was motivated to take the youth coaching position primarily because Armstrong’s son, Jason, was wrestling, and he desired to coach him. Cork has enjoyed working with past Johnson City coaches Rick Gumble, who is being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, and past honoree Dr. Peter Capone. Throughout the years, the Johnson City program was opened to youth from all over Section IV and included such notable wrestlers as Cornell’s great Troy Nickerson, American University’s NCAA Champion Josh Glen and many other outstanding wrestlers who owe so much to the guidance of Coach Armstrong.
Cork has indicated that there are many reasons why he gives so freely of his time to help build young wrestlers into successful high school wrestlers. The biggest reason is that he enjoys seeing how a youth wrestler matures and progresses to the next level of competition. Armstrong states, “this is the best part of my job as a youth coach.” In addition, he feels a great need to give back to the sport that has given him so much, and he relishes knowing that what he is doing is helping to keep the sport of wrestling growing in the area. Armstrong also specifies that he is a true believer in the important life lessons that the sport teaches such as personal discipline and the involvement in team activities. Furthermore, he says there is nothing better than to have one of his wrestlers, either past or present, come up to him and thank him for all that he has done for them. Cork keeps in touch with his past wrestlers in many ways; he attends many matches and tournaments throughout the season and enjoys talking to them in person or on the phone. He even attends the important events of their lives – recently he went to Colorado to attend Nickerson’s wedding. Furthermore, Cork savors the close relationship of the people who have worked as coaches with him. He cites the close relationship that he has with Barry Felton and especially with Greg Kleinsmith who he has coached and worked with for many years.
Having fun and teaching the fundamentals of wrestling has been a life commitment of Carson “Cork” Armstrong. For all the years of service and dedication to the sport of wrestling, the Upstate New York Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame is proud to present Cork with our first Volunteer Award.