It's already a big week for Gettysburg High wrestling head coach Perry Smith.
In addition to celebrating his 51st birthday today, Smith is taking one of his grapplers, senior Clay Kocsis, to the District 3 Class AAA Championships this weekend.
But that doesn't include his biggest moment, which will occur before the Classes AAA and AA finals on Saturday night at Hersheypark Arena.
At that time, Smith will be inducted into the District 3 Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Fans will salute Smith's 21 seasons as Gettysburg's head coach and his 224-172-1 dual-meet record.
"I've coached long enough to have had a tied meet," he said, adding, "It was Northern (York) in the old gym and they had no criteria then, so it was a tie. Nowadays, that wouldn't happen."
Smith has seen many changes in the sport through the years since he got his start as an assistant coach at Paulsboro, N.J., High School. But he said the parade of wrestlers he has coached hasn't revealed much difference.
"Kids are basically kids and, if they come into the (wrestling) room with the right upbringing, they will be great to work with," he said, but admitted some of the wrestlers' circumstances at home have been difficult in recent years.
Yet, for a wrestler with the individual will, success has been achieved under Smith's guidance. In fact, two of his most successful alumni will present him for induction on Saturday.
"If you asked
His school's lone PIAA champion, Ken Haines coached for Smith in 2001-02 and later became Fairfield High's head coach. Chris Haines has been Smith's assistant for the past four years.
"Really, I view it as my name is on the plaque, but more importantly, it's special for Gettysburg wrestling," Smith said, noting several Hanover area coaches are already Hall of Fame members and that New Oxford's Dave Conaway will receive the same honor someday.
"This is an organization that is run by coaches," Smith said of the award's significance. "They know what goes into it. It's a group of your peers that is deciding something they want to do for you."
That gesture comes after a long career in which he started at Gettysburg as an assistant under Steve Allen before he and Allen switched roles after two years. Since then, Smith has seen highs and lows.
"Every year is different," he said, adding the 2012-13 season has been particularly satisfying because eight wins of the team's 12-4 dual-meet mark came in the matches' final bouts.
But Smith's season is hardly done. Smith and Kocsis were planning to travel to Westminster, Md., today so his District 3 qualifier can work out with that school's grapplers to prepare for this weekend.
Yet it is a duty which Smith enjoys, particularly when the reward is so gratifying.
"Since word has gotten out about this, I've gotten a lot of emails from former wrestlers," he said. "They say, 'I still think about this every day,' or that I had a definite positive role in their lives, and that's really what it's all about."
firstname.lastname@example.org; 717-637-3736, extension 144. Twitter: @ChuckCurley.