STAMFORD — Having enough time is the enemy of us all.
In this case, the FCIAC fraternity of wrestling coaches is losing a very good soldier. Tom Pereira has ended his 12-year tenure as wrestling coach at Westhill. He remains as Dean of Students at Westhill.
“This decision is all about time commitment,” Pereira said. “The demands of the wrestling job. And the demands of the Dean of Students job are growing. And time with my family was a consideration as well. I realized I couldn’t be the best version of myself as coach for the wrestlers. So wrestling was the logical thing to give up.”
Since Danbury has captured 31 of the last 32 FCIAC Wrestling Championships, the success of the Westhill wrestling program for Pereira is about the relationships with the kids not the Vikings’ ledger of wins and losses.
Which is a natural outgrowth of Pereira’s talents as Westhill Dean of Students.
“Being the wrestling coach I was able to see the kids in a different light,” Pereira said. “To see a kid come try wrestling as a freshman. And then witness his growth and maturity as a person when he was a senior. Wrestling is a unique sport that attracts unique individuals. Wrestling is not just about winning and losing.”
Pereira will lend his expertise to the search by Westhill athletic director Dick Cerone to fill the wrestling coach position for the upcoming winter season.
And know that Pereira won’t be a complete stranger at the Westhill wrestling room.
“I choked up when I told the kids about my decision to step down. That first Saturday of the upcoming wrestling season will be a hard day for me,” Pereira said. “I won’t miss leaving home at 5 a.m. for weigh-in. I will miss our Friday tradition of the team playing handball.
“I can still go to the wrestling room and spend time with the kids,” Pereira continued. “The difference will be that I can leave them when I want or need to.”
Pereira has seen a number of Westhill wrestlers have significant individual success. But perhaps none more than Pascal Medor, who earned the 2012 New England Championship title at 106 pounds thanks to incredible perseverance.
“Danbury’s Kevin Jack (two-time New England champ, three-time All-American and CT State Open champ, 186-18 in high school career, 43-0 his junior year, went on to wrestle at N.C. State) beat Pascal in the regular season, at the FCIAC Tournament, in the Class LL tournament and at the State Open,” Pereira recalled. “But Pascal kept grinding, kept driving and finally beat Kevin Jack in the New Englands final (match still on YouTube). I’ll never forget the look on Pascal’s face when the referee raised his hand in triumph. Such a giant smile.”
This coming season Westhill wrestling’s No. 1 fan won’t be a member of the Purple Pack. It will be someone with deep wrestling roots.
“Giving up the wrestling coach job was not a decision I made lightly. But it was the right decision for me,” Pereira said. “I wanted to leave the wrestling program on my terms. The kids and the parents understood. We have a good group of kids coming back. Tommy Mazur (152 pounds) was fourth at the New Englands last year. The new coach will be stepping into a good situation.”