Presbyterian's new head coach Zach Sheaffer (Graphic/Presbyterian athletic dept)
Presbyterian College started its wrestling program in the Fall of 2018. Beginning its third year of competition, the Blue Hose have welcomed Zack Sheaffer to their coaching staff as the head coach of the men's and women's programs.
Sheaffer still remembers the conversation he had with his father at five years old coming home from football practice, about this "new sport" where you could pretty much beat people up. He was a bigger kid, wrestling heavyweight in a small area of Pennsylvania. "When you're the big guy in a small area, you kind of have to travel quite a bit to get workout partners, so I spent my whole youth playing football, wrestling, then traveling everywhere to try and find someone who was big enough and old enough or whichever, to beat me up real good. And I remember, I got too big, too heavy to play football." In the sixth grade, Zack decided he wanted to wrestle year-round and stepped away from football for a couple of years. After restarting football in high school, he figured that college football wasn't in his future. At 5'11" and two hundred-and some pounds, he knew he was better suited for college wrestling. Sheaffer wrestled for five years at the University of Pittsburgh, with over 100 career wins and topped off his senior season with an All-American finish at the NCAA tournament. "You know, I had a really unique college experience. One year my city [Pittsburgh] won the Super Bowl, we won the Stanley Cup one year, the football team made it to the BCS Bowl, we had a National Champion wrestler while I was on the team, and my senior year, I finished eighth."
Zack always knew he wanted to be a teacher, one of his main goals in college was to become an elementary school teacher. "I'm a big kid. I like to have fun! If you've ever spent time with heavyweights, but we're goofy and we're always happy." But after graduating, he didn't really know what to do, so he decided to apply for graduate school for teaching and figured he could possibly coach in college. After applying for jobs and programs, he ended up in Gaffney, South Carolina, at Limestone College for one season. He was then approached by one of his college coaches with the opportunity to coach at Clarion University under Teague Moore, and after a couple of seasons with Clarion, he made the move to Drexel University in Philadelphia. For the last ten years, Sheaffer was part of the Dragons' great Renaissance. Climbing national rankings, boasting the number one team GPA in the country, and bringing in high-level recruits were some of the things that Zack was part of while coaching at Drexel. The pandemic brought some challenges, and his life saw some major changes.
Zack and his wife welcomed their first daughter into the world after the first wave of the pandemic. And at the end of wrestling season, they had another surprise: a second baby on the way! While working at Drexel, one of Zack's primary responsibilities was recruiting, which would become more difficult with having another child. He knew his wife would need him more, and it was important to Zack and his wife to be closer to family so they could get help with the kids and have some more support. While living in Philly, his side of the family was still about two and a half hours away. Still, in a little town 30 minutes away from Clinton, South Carolina, most of his wife's family lives there. "We move down here and everything is cheaper, the pace of life is much more my style. I love this; it's so great," Sheaffer boasts about his family's new home. As the time came to make the hard decision to move, Zack didn't have a coaching job in mind; he had one priority: family. Sheaffer knew that this was going to be a tough transition in moving, as he thought he would end up getting a job at his father-in-law's factory and would no longer be able to coach, until he had a conversation with Matt Azevedo, where he told Zack about Presbyterian's wrestling program.
A few emails and phone calls later, Zack Sheaffer was hired on the coaching staff at Presbyterian College. "The great thing about Presbyterian is we have Men's and Women's teams. I was really happy about that, I have two daughters and I want them to be involved or at least interested in wrestling. They can come see things and not always have to watch the guys, which is great. I think women's wrestling is an area that is blowing up and there's going to be a wealth of opportunity here." Recruiting for the Women's team is a new part of coaching that Coach Sheaffer is excited to get into. But as far as expanding the staff for the Women's program, Zack hopes that he and Director of Wrestling Mark Cody can hire women so the team can have someone to better relate to, as a coach.
Zack's journey to coaching at Presbyterian is an excellent example of how life puts you in the right place at the right time. Congratulations and good luck to Coach Sheaffer as he starts his first season at Presbyterian! To keep up with the Blue Hose, you can follow them on Twitter @pcmenswrestle and @pcwomenswrestle.