Ken Wunderley reports on the Mt. Lebanon coaching situation. Read his story below.
(Photo: Mt. Lebanon wrestling coach Bill Lewis, left, is stepping down and turning the program over to his assistant coach Marc Allemang, right. Ken Wunderley/Tri-State Sports & News Service)
The last thing Bill Lewis wanted to do was step down as Mt. Lebanon's head wrestling coach. Unfortunately, he didn't have a choice.
Lewis, a coach at Mt. Lebanon for 21 years, was forced to step down due to a rare medical condition.
"About a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed by my neurologist as having a rare movement disorder that affects my nervous system called orthostatic tremors," Lewis said. "Essentially I have a rapid tremor in my legs while standing but that, curiously enough, is alleviated when sitting or walking. In some aspects of my life I have been successful in masking or managing the condition but it does take its toll on my body."
Lewis was Mt. Lebanon's head coach the past 14 years. He also served as an assistant to Rod Gerhart for seven years prior to taking over as head coach.
"I struggled with this decision throughout the summer," Lewis said. "During my time at Mt. Lebanon, I have given of myself and my energies, as fully as possible, to the program and our student-athletes. I love Mt. Lebanon wrestling and what we have built over the years, but find myself at a crossroads where I feel that continuing would be too difficult for me."
Lewis, a 1986 graduate of Peters Township, concludes his head coaching career with a 165-153 record in 17 seasons, which also includes three years at Warwick High School in Newport News, Va.
"Although the past two seasons have been rewarding on a number of fronts, it has taken the focus off of my health and made life challenging in other respects. I am hopeful that spending more time working with the doctors and finding ways to balance my life will enhance my quality of life overall.
"Hopefully we can find a course of treatment that allows me to return to the sport I love and contribute in some fashion down the road. I have always given 110 percent to the program and feel it would be a disservice to give any less than it deserves."
Lewis had a 135-123 record at Mt. Lebanon and the Blue Devils qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA team tournament five times. During his tenure at Mt. Lebanon, he had 75 wrestlers qualify for the WPIAL individual tournament, including 10 section champions, 5 PIAA qualifiers and 3 PIAA medalists, including 2015 graduate Kellan Stout, a PIAA champion.
"I want to thank the school district for giving me the opportunity to serve our students as a coach," Lewis said. "I have been blessed with great support from an outstanding athletic office, our administration, wonderful parents and most importantly, I have had the pleasure of watching young men grow and mature into adults."
Lewis has turned the reigns over to Marc Allemang, who served as his first assistant the past eight years. He is only the sixth head coach in the history of the program.
"Marc has had a great impact on the program's success since his arrival," Lewis said. "He's a respected mentor and genuinely cares about our wrestlers. I'm pleased to pass the torch to Marc and have every confidence that he will continue the rich traditions and the values that [former] coach George Lamprinakos and [former assistant] Dick Jones put in place decades ago. They are the standard and their legacy continues."
Allemang was a four-year starter at Bethel Park who graduated in 2001. He was also a four-year starter at Duquesne University, graduating in 2005. He served as an assistant coach at Baldwin for two years before accepting a teaching and coaching job at Mt. Lebanon.
"I was hired as a social studies teacher and assistant coach in 2007," Allemang said. "Bill is also a social studies teacher, so we see each other every day. I would have been Bill's assistant as long as he coached. I never had any thoughts of becoming a head coach until Bill stepped down."
The transition to head coach has been very easy for Allemang, who held his first official practice as head coach Monday.
"The transition has gone very smooth since I know everybody," Allemang said. "And the nice thing is that I can still bounce ideas off Bill. He may have stepped down, but he's still involved in the program."
Lewis has been working on a history of Mt. Lebanon wrestling and has put in countless hours compiling lists of past section champions.
"I'm still very passionate about the sport of wrestling," said Lewis, who was a PIAA runner-up in his senior year at Peters Township. "I'm embracing the role of a consultant to Marc."