NL gets its man
You can call it perfect timing, but Steve Hluschak can't find a better way to describe becoming the newest head coach of Northern Lehigh's wrestling program.
Hluschak was approved by the school board Monday night to take over for former head coach Todd Herzog, who resigned at the end of last season.
In return, the Bulldogs bring back one of the school's most legendary athletes, as Hluschak, who graduated in 2000 from Northern Lehigh, excelled in both football and wrestling.
It was a period in Northern Lehigh wrestling that saw the program win three straight District 11AA championships during Hluschak's last three years, where he was a three-time (two bronze, fourth) state place winner.
He sits second all-time on the schools win list, saddled between both of his brothers, Adam and Ryan, in first and third place respectively.
Herzog coached Hluschak during his time with the program and the two stayed in contact this past season. The veteran coach hinted that his 23-year reign, which made him head coach in 1996, would likely end this past March.
"Todd called me up during the season and told me he was thinking about stepping down," Hluschak said. "I never really thought about taking over, nor was it something I ever expected to do, but the circumstances were right and it was really just great timing."
Hluschak has spent the past eight years as an assistant at Bangor, Stroudsburg and Lehighton. He spent last season on the Indians staff after he was hired as a teacher in the school district, following teaching cuts at Stroudsburg the year before, where he previously taught.
Ultimately, all the pieces fell in the right place and Northern Lehigh's administration felt Hluschak was the best fit moving forward.
"Steve ultimately was the best person for the position," said Northern Lehigh athletic director Bryan Geist. "He knows the tradition of the program and we want him to be the face of Northern Lehigh wrestling."
Hluschak knows that it takes time and commitment to build the program into what he hopes to establish. The Bulldogs finished 8-6 last season and missed out on qualifying for district duals.
Northern Lehigh hasn't won a district championship since the 2005-2006, which was something that Hluschak was accustomed too.
Bringing aboard one of their most celebrated figures from the past is something that all sides are excited about, but nobody's more ecstatic than Hluschak himself.
"I've been around this sport as a participant and a coach and I feel pretty well-rounded heading into this position," he said. "I remember how much fun I had when I wrestled by going to camps, team runs, wing nights and things that we did to make us a stronger team. I want to make this an enjoyable experience for the kids, as well as have them work hard and be dedicated to bring this program back to how it was when I wrestled."