Good Talk: Mr. Kyriazis

Meet the phys ed teacher and former state champ who returned to coaching this year.

Manas Kathir, Sports Editor

What was your experience like as a former wrestler for the North Allegheny Boys’ Team? 

It was intense. I got a late start to the sport, and North Allegheny was a powerhouse in wrestling (among other sports) at the time. It was intimidating to walk into the practice room each day and work out with guys who were much more experienced.  I was in awe and had a ton of respect for their abilities. I had to make a decision to go all in or choose something else.  Wrestling is not a sport you want to do half-way. I chose to make the commitment, and it was a rewarding experience.  

What got you into wrestling over other sports when you were a student?

I did other team sports growing up, and I enjoyed them.  However, there was something intriguing about wrestling. A friend of mine who was already on the team, recruited me. He thought that I could be good at it and would enjoy it, so he encouraged me to give it a try. I didn’t fall in love with it right way, but it did capture my interest enough to keep coming back.  

How has the experience of being an NA wrestler helped you as a coach?

There is a sense of pride in being an NA wrestler. There is a deep history going back to the 50s and 60s. Former wrestlers are still involved in the program, whether it’s coaching, volunteering, being a parent or grandparent of a wrestler, or just being a fan. Wrestling is a close-knit community of people. Having the perspective of a wrestler, fan, and coach within the same program helps to remind me why I am here. There is a great responsibility that comes with coaching in general, and I want the student-athletes, parents, and coaching staff to know I am giving my all each and every day.       

After your first run as head coach of the team, you took time off from coaching.  What motivated you to return to the team this year?

Taking time off gave me a fresh perspective as I returned to coaching. I believe in timing and being willing to do what we’re called to do. I feel like the timing was right and I know God was calling me back to coaching.  I knew that I would most likely get back into coaching at some point, but to be honest, until this opportunity came, being a head coach was not something I was seeking to do again. This sport has taught and given me so much, and I want to support the program as much as possible.      

What are your goals and expectations for the wrestling team this year?

Since it is a new coaching staff with a lot of young guys coming up to varsity, our main goal is to create a culture that focuses on respect, discipline, and work ethic.  The individual wrestlers have specific goals, and we are establishing team goals as the season progresses.  Wrestling practice and training is hard work, but it can be fun too.  It is important to strike a balance.  If we focus on our attitude, doing the little things well, and the fundamentals of the sport, the other goals will fall into place.  We want them to build confidence and believe in themselves.    

What do you love most about this year’s team in particular?

There is a mix of experienced wrestlers and some that have only been around the sport for a short time.  When this team has a mindset of constantly learning and improving, it is enjoyable to watch.  Results are not going to happen overnight, but to see a constant improvement and for the team to embrace the process is rewarding.  Everyone on this team supports and encourages one another.  In addition, our coaching staff works well together.  Coach Nasiadka is also the head custodian at NASH.  Coach Cassidy is one of my former wrestlers at NA.  Coach Layton is one of my long-time assistants who teaches at NAI.  Coach Heckert is also the Girls’ Head Wrestling Coach.  Coach Catalano was one of my teammates at NA.  It is a bonus that Coach Nasiadka and I work in the same building and can bounce ideas off each other throughout the day. We all bring something different to the table but have similar philosophies and goals.     

How has NASH changed since you were a student here?

There have been a lot of changes to the physical structure, but I feel like there are many things that have stood the test of time.  Students still do similar clubs, activities, sports, and social events.  There is still school spirit and pride.  The one big change is the same change everywhere–technology.    

Who were your role models as a kid?

My parents instilled values in me and always supported my endeavors.  I looked up to my teachers, my coaches, and sports figures.  I learned at an early age that their character and positive messages were more important than accomplishments.   

If you could do anything besides being a high school teacher and a wrestling coach, what would it be?

I worked in other professions before teaching and coaching and did not enjoy it.  However, I think those experiences gave me a unique perspective and much more of an appreciation for what I am doing.  I feel blessed to have an opportunity to do what I enjoy each day.  That being said, I always considered getting into broadcasting when I was younger, but never pursued it.  I had the opportunity to do the NA wrestling broadcasts the past few years and loved it.  I would definitely do that for a living if I could!

What is your most realistic new year’s resolution this year?

I usually don’t do new year’s resolutions, but I do try to improve and make changes any time of the year when necessary.  Right now, I would say that I want to focus on family time.  Especially since I am back to coaching with long hours away from my family, this becomes more of a challenge.  I want to put any distractions aside when I am home, and be mentally and emotionally present with my family.  Family is a gift, and they deserve more than my leftovers from a long day.