Loyola High wrestling coach Dennis Frazier of Westminster has seen both sides of the coin in the sport of wrestling.
After a spectacular high school career and a successful but short-lived college career, Frazier has turned his attention to coaching the sport with the intent of attaining the same success he reached as a wrestler.
"I went into teaching to coach wrestling," said Frazier, who graduated from Towson State University in Baltimore County in 1979 with adegree in physical education.
"At times, I find it much easier towrestle than coach. When you're coaching, you have to sweat through more matches than just the one when you're wrestling."
Frazier hasbeen coaching high school wrestling for 10 years now. After five years at Towson High, the 34-year-old took over a Loyola program in 1986that had won just one match the previous year.
Slowly but surely he is turning the Loyola program around. This year the Dons finished with a respectable 7-7 regular-season record despite having only 10 wrestlers competing in 13 weight classes most of the season, and placed fourth in the Maryland Scholastic Association tournament last weekend at Gilman School in Baltimore, their best performance since 1968.
"We started off very well, but were hurt by injuries and having some wrestlers leave the team because of personal reasons," Frazier said. "A lot will depend on how well we do at the national tournament (which took place this weekend). If we can finish among the top five, Iwould consider it a very successful season."
Frazier began wrestling competitively his sophomore year at South Miami (Fla.) Senior High School.
"The first time I wrestled was in ninth-grade gym class in junior high," Frazier said. "And although I never wrestled in a real match, the next year I went up to the coach (Walter Allison) and told him, 'I'd be the best wrestler you ever had.' So he sent me upstairs with a few varsity wrestlers and they knocked me around a bit and he said I had some potential."
Potential indeed. In his three-year high school career, he was a two-time state champion and compiled an impressive 95-3 record. He credits a lot of his success to Allison.
"He was very encouraging and always urged you to go a little farther," Frazier said. "(As a coach) I try to be similar to him, but may be too nice. I'm more comfortable with letting the kids determine what weight division they should wrestle in where he often determined what weight class you should compete in and expected you to be there.There was no discussion."
Along with wrestling, Frazier took up football his sophomore year and notes why he enjoys the individual aspect of wrestling.
"I like the controlled aggression in wrestling and the one-on-one aspect," he said. "In wrestling, you win on your own or lose on your own, there's no one else to blame if you lose or credit if you win."
After graduating from high school, Frazier declined an invitation to the 1976 Olympic Trials and opted to accept a full scholarship to wrestle at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
It didn't take him long to enjoy the same kind of success he did at the high school level.
His freshman year, he was selected captain of the Morgan squad and was the Mid-Eastern Conference Athletic champion in his weight class. In two years at Morgan, he compiled a 43-2 record before transferring to Towson State University for personal reasons.
"At Towson, I worked 40 hours a week to get myself through college so I didn't have the time to wrestle," Frazier said.
Today,Frazier is pleased with the direction his Loyola program has taken and said he will continue to strive for the high standards he has set.
"I came to Loyola because I saw they weren't one of the better teams and found a challenge in front of me to turn this team into one of the best teams," he said.