Coach Harry Takesian with his Commonwealth Athletic Conference Coach of the Year award. (Courtesy photograph.)
A 17-year wrestling coach at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School is the Commonwealth Athletic Conference Coach of the Year for the current season.
Head Wrestling Coach Harry Takesian received the honor Saturday at the conclusion of the Massachusetts Vocational Athletic Directors Association Wrestling Tournament at Essex Technical High School in Danvers. Superintendent Maureen Lynch said coaches in the league recognized the Whittier Wildcats continued improvement since Takesian took over as head coach.
“I tried to change the philosophy by making sure the kids were in better physical condition. That is what helps them improve as athletes,” Takesian said, adding he credits the players hard work to the team’s success. “We’ve got some talented kids that work hard. They have a refuse-to-lose attitude. When Whittier walks through the doors, they know they are in for a fight.”
Senior Angel Alicea, of Haverhill, joined Takesian’s wrestling team as a sophomore and is now one of four team captains.
“Coach Harry earned this,” Alicea said. “He really deserves the award. He’s there for all of us. It’s nice to have a coach like that. He knows how to be a coach but he also knows how to be a friend. He is very supportive. He reminds that me that I’m a good wrestler and I can be better if I push myself.”
Takesian, a former Whittier wrestler and MVP, served 10 years as assistant coach and the last seven as head coach. He’s also served as Whittier’s maintenance director since 2006. Essex Tech Head Coach Rich Chouinard recognized Takesian and presented him with a plaque.
The Coach of the Year Award is determined by a vote of all Commonwealth Athletic Conference league coaches — six of the seven voted for Takesian to receive this year’s honor. The seventh, Takesian, voted for Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School’s Coach Mark Donovan.
Sophomore Edgar Feliciano, of Haverhill, credits Takesian as the only reason he’s at Whittier, adding that Takesian continuously built up his confidence by telling him when he did a good job, or offering pointers when needed.
“I was the first one to pat him on the back,” Feliciano said. “Out of all of my years of wrestling, he is the most humble coach I’ve ever had.”
In addition to coaching the regular season, Takesian’s commitment to his wrestlers lasts through the off-season as well. Last year, he launched the Wildcat Wrestling Program, which runs from March to October and encourages wrestlers to train and compete all year. Whittier wrestlers won the club’s freestyle state tournament this past year.
Takesian also added excitement to the Wildcat Wrestling Program by bringing in Olympic wrestler Kyle Snyder for an all-day event that attracted 100 wrestlers of all ages. Snyder is scheduled to return this spring in an effort to build enthusiasm for the program and attract young wrestlers to Whittier.
Now that Whittier Tech’s regular season has ended, the Wildcats, composed of 32 boys and three girls, will face off in the state tournament qualifying rounds Feb. 10 at Danvers High School.