There are many individuals who played a part in the success of the Collingswood High School wrestling program over the last five decades. Coaches and wrestlers have come and gone, leaving an imprint in the program not soon to be forgotten.
And then there was Dan Trainer.
Trainer never coached at the high-school level, instead giving his time as a volunteer at the youth level. He helped turn hundreds of young children into quality wrestlers who reached high school at an advanced stage when it came to wrestling.
Trainer passed away on Saturday at the age of 72.
In his honor, this week Collingswood wrestlers wore T-shirts that read “Do it for Dan, the man who bled blue and gold.”
The Panthers then came out and grabbed win No. 700 in program history.
Collingswood Athletic Director Ron Hamrick was quick to point out that the work of Trainer and the program’s success went hand in hand.
“The success of our youth program is directly related to Dan Trainer,” Hamrick said. "After 39 years, he developed so many from the youth program with the philosophy that 'it’s not win at all cost, but be competitive and get better.'”
Trainer’s approach became contagious around Collingswood, as parents were happy to bring their children into a program that taught learning and improving over winning.
The victories would come, as the varsity program has proven over the years: Collingswood currently has the second-most wins of any wrestling program in South Jersey.
“We are second in South Jersey in wins as a program and that just shows you how well their program has been doing for so many years,” Hamrick said.
Hamrick also praised the overall efforts of the Collingswood athletic department. The Panthers’ field hockey team also celebrated a milestone this fall, competing in its 100th season in program history.
“The athletic program is on the rise throughout all sports,” Hamrick said. “We added a youth football program and middle school cross-country program. Field hockey has always been successful, and that’s a tribute to all the great coaches we have had.”
As for win No. 700, the wrestling team had to work for it.
The Panthers fell down 16-0 to Audubon before rallying to a 43-22 victory. Forrley Gunby gave the Panthers the lead for good at 25-22 with a decision, and Bill Crowley followed with a first-period pin.
“This is a great team,” senior John Deaner said. “At practice, we work hard and push each other. We have a great coaching staff. It’s just a well-organized program.”
Head coach Dechlin Moody has been complimentary of his squad while also noting that Panthers’ fans have not seen the best of the team yet.
But when it comes to occasions such as win No. 700, he simply feels fortunate to be a part of the great Collingswood tradition.
“There’s a lot of tradition here at Collingswood and a lot of great coaches, so I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this,” Moody said.