Let me be Frank about a special coach

By: , Thursday, January 9, 2020, TRIB-LIVE

To find a high school coach who is totally committed to every kid on his team, who shuns the limelight and gives all credit to the kids and his coaching staff is rare.

To have that same coach in place for nearly four decades doesn’t happen too often. When kids from his first team and those in subsequent years still maintain contact with this beloved man, it shows you how special he is.

That man is Ron Frank. He was one of the few coaches remaining who was there when I began writing for The Herald in 2006. The first time I spoke to him, I knew his focus was entirely on his wrestling team. I did a story on him when he got his 400th win with a 45-28 victory over Plum in 2017. He didn’t want to spend much time talking about himself.

This is what he had to say after win No. 400, which made him the 25th coach in PIAA history to hit 400: “Many of the wins stand out in my memory. I remember the first win in 1979 when we were losing 30-6 to Greensburg Salem and then recorded five pins in a row to win. I remember a win against Plum the night our son, Patrick, was born. The 300th win that came against Central Catholic stands out, and there are many others. Four hundred is just a number. I’m proud that our four seniors got to raise their hands in victory tonight.

“But the best memories involve the relationships. There are so many wonderful relationships with parents and wrestlers from the past 40 years. There are wrestlers that graduated a long time ago that now help coach. There are wrestlers that stay in touch from across the country. We have wrestlers who have become successful as police, businessmen, teachers, engineers and doctors.

“There are parents whose sons graduated years ago that still volunteer at our Allegheny County Tournament, working hand-in-hand with wonderful teachers who double as wrestling coaches. We are in a people business. The relationships are the most important aspect because they show that our responsibility and duty as part of the education process of the school district has been successful.”

If you would ask him about being the third on the all-time WPIAL wrestling wins list, he’d say the kids did the winning. The Allegheny County Tournament, held at Fox Chapel, is Frank’s baby.

When I would do a story on the event every year, Frank never said “I” or “me.” He spoke only of the volunteers and the Fox Chapel community that banded together to make it a success every year.

As you journey through the roads of life, take time to take notice of how Ron Frank navigated those roads, how he took pride in and never forgot about those students and athletes who were alongside him on the journey. In wrestling, the wins and losses weren’t his top priority. Teaching his kids and preparing them for life were his focus.

We now have one fewer larger-than-life active coaching legend in Western Pennsylvania, though he still will help out as a volunteer coach. There are big shoes for his son, Michael, to follow in Fox Chapel wrestling. Expect more success. He learned from the best.

Thank you, Ron Frank. Long may you run.