High School Hosts Service for Dan Trainer Sunday Afternoon
The late youth wrestling program coordinator was beloved of many parents, educators and coaches in Collingswood. His viewing will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
A viewing will be held Sunday morning for the late Daniel A. Trainer, a man who Collingswood will remember not only as a pillar of the community, said high school athletic director Ronald Hamrick, but as the biggest part of its successful tradition of youth wrestling.
"He’s a legend in Collingswood; he’s like a father to me," Hamrick told Patch Wednesday, his voice brimming with emotion.
"I’ve known him for 29 years. How he’s influenced so many kids is pretty impressive."
According to an obituary published by Foster-Warne Funeral Home, Trainer ran the youth wrestling program in Collingswood for 39 years, dedicated 50 years to the Collingswood Little League, and spent 30 seasons with the Collingswood Football program.
Trainer was also the 2001 Collingswood Citizen of the Year, and in 2004 was inducted into the Collingswood High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
But his most lasting contributions, Hamrick said, will always be remembered by those who wrestled.
Credited as a pioneer of the Grapevine Youth Wrestling organization, Hamrick said, Trainer espoused a philosophy of competition over winning. By matching opponents as equally as possible, Trainer practically guaranteed nobody went undefeated.
"If you got too many wins and he thought you were getting too big for your britches, he would match you with someone tougher and you would lose," Hamrick said. "That’s how you build a program.
"Nowadays it’s trophy-centered and win at all costs...and that’s not how it should be," he said. "It’s competing and love to compete and keep working to get better."
If there was a story that best expressed what Trainer meant to the kids, Hamrick said, it was the time in 2009 that he made a last-minute trip to Robbinsville to bring up a replacement wrestler for a tournament.
Oh, and he was being treated for cancer at the time.
"He got six hours of chemo, he ran over to the high school and got Jimmy by the end of the school day, and then drove an hour-and-a-half to get him there in time to wrestle," Hamrick said.
"He was tough but he was very disciplined," Hamrick said. "He pushed everybody to get the best out of them. Very harsh, but all the kids that he coached loved him."
One of those who saw Trainer from both the perspective of a child and an adult colleague is current CHS wrestling coach Dechlin Moody, who invoked the memory of his late mentor in rallying the team to its 700th victory as a program against Audubon on Tuesday.
In 1987 Moody was part of the first Collingswood traveling baseball team to win a tournament title. Trainer was his coach.
"He struck fear in all us kids with his yelling, but he demanded perfection," Moody wrote in an email to Patch. "In doing so, he got it!"
Moody also remembers "going to Atlantic City every year for High School State Championship Wrestling, and wanting to make him proud of our team" and "watching him run youth wrestling practice in his later years and still having the energy to yell and keep the kids under control."
Trainer is survived by his wife of 53 years, Joyce (nee Hughes); his children Dan Jr.; Thomas; Joseph (Danielle) and Christopher (Elaina); 7 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren, a sister, Marge (Jim) Epifano and several nieces and nephews.
Well-wishers are invited to pay their respects from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, at the Collingswood High School Gymnasium, 424 Collings Ave. A Celebration of Life Service will follow at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made in Dan's memory to the Collingswood Wrestling Association, c/o Hamrick at CHS.