WILTON — It was the most crushing moment of John Foldeak’s coaching career.
It was the night of the FCIAC league championships and the Foldeak’s favorite lightweight—his 7-year-old daughter—was upset that her father was going to miss a second Father-Daughter dance.
“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Foldeak said, confirming he had stepped down as Wilton’s wrestling coach. “She was in tears. There is a breaking point, and that was mine.
“That just encompassed what it is all about,” he added. “I can’t give what both parts need. I can’t give what my family needs and what Wilton needs, so it’s time to step away for a while.”
Twelve years ago, Foldeak was hired to take over a struggling program.
He didn’t turn the Warriors into an FCIAC power like Danbury, or Fairfield Warde for that matter, but he did create a competitive squad that produced wrestlers who could compete at a high level.
“He’s phenomenal,” Wilton athletic director Chris McDougal said. “From just building them up as people and teaching them to do the right thing, to teaching them the sport of wrestling, he’s just outstanding. He’s always been an A-plus guy.”
Foldeak led the Warriors to a fifth-place finish at FCIACs in his final season and also produced the program’s first New England competitor — Travis Longo — since the 1990s.
“I feel like I’ve brought Wilton as far as I could,” Foldeak said. “There was no youth program here when we started. We made a lot of strides.”
Foldeak has three young children, including a son who has started his own wrestling career.
“I used to just drop him off or pick him up,” he said. “Now I’ll be able to spend more time with him and help coach him.”
He said he wouldn’t rule out a return to coaching once his children have grown, but for now Wilton’s program needs somebody ready to give 100 percent again.
“What they need right now is somebody in the building, or in town, who can really devote the time you have to give,” he said. “They really need to drum up some numbers.”
The program is not being left bare.
Longo returns as do Griffin Morris, Max Mannino, Jacob Robb and Tyler Previte, all of whom have placed or could place in FCIACs.
“There is a good core of wrestlers returning,” Foldeak said.
McDougal said he hopes to have a new coach in place by the end of the school year.
Next year, though, Foldeak plans on dancing the night away when FCIACs roll around.
“It was a great 12 years,” he said. “I couldn’t have hoped for more. It’s never a perfect situation, but it was as close to perfect as I could get.”