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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
JV coach and varsity assistant moves into the head coaching spot on Mitchell's varsity squad.
By FRANK PASTOR
Published August 31, 2005
TRINITY - From the time he first volunteered at Hudson 12 years ago, John William Stanjeski has worked as a wrestling assistant at five Pasco County schools.
At last, he will have a program of his own.
Stanjeski is the new head coach at Mitchell, where he has served as junior varsity coach and varsity assistant the past five seasons, athletic director Ian Mooney announced Tuesday.
Stanjeski replaces John Marretta, who resigned in June to become a social studies teacher at Chasco Middle School.
"I guess as far as transition from one coach to another, him being a junior varsity coach and a (varsity) assistant coach for us, he already knows the kids, he knows the program, he knows how things work for us, so it's a smooth transition for us all the way around," Mooney said.
Stanjeski, 54, first served as a parent volunteer at Hudson when his son, John, was a freshman in 1993. When his son transferred to River Ridge, Stanjeski followed him. It was there that he met Mooney, who was working as an assistant to Russ Schenk.
Stanjeski stayed at River Ridge until '97, when Steve Brown asked him to help at Gulf. After two years with the Bucs, Stanjeski tried to take a year off. But before the year was half over, Vinnie Lowe talked him into helping at Ridgewood. In 2000, Stanjeski accepted Mooney's offer to coach at Mitchell, which is down the road from Florida Power, where Stanjeski works as a mechanic.
Stanjeski assisted Marretta, who started Mitchell's program and helped Gregg Steiner (145 pounds) and Nick Dreger (135) become the school's first state qualifiers this past season. In February, Steiner credited Stanjeski with talking him out of quitting the team after back and shoulder injuries kept him out of the Springstead and Sunshine Athletic Conference tournaments.
"He needed that extra attention, that extra push to stick it out because sometimes when you get injured you think, "Well, that's it. My wrestling season's over,' " Stanjeski said. "I wanted to express to him, "You can't quit. You make a commitment and you finish it,' and it paid off for him."
Steiner and Dreger have graduated, but Stanjeski inherits a team that returns rising senior Michael Trinidad and sophomore-to-be Jordan Holding as the program moves up to Class 3A.
Stanjeski, who will be paid a supplement of $1,922, plans to retire from Florida Power in December and work as a substitute teacher at Mitchell. Until then, students will have access to assistants such as Dave Spicer during the school day. Another assistant, Shawn Taber, works as a paramedic.