Troy Letters, Clarion University head wrestling coach since November 2012, has left that position effective immediately, with assistant coach Keith Ferraro being named interim head coach, the Pennsylvania-based school made official Thursday.
“Troy has accepted a job in the private sector and has stepped down as head coach,” said Dave Katis, Clarion’s athletic director. “We thank Troy for his hard work and dedication to Clarion wrestling and wish him well in his future.”
In talking about Letters’ replacement who came to Clarion as an assistant in August 2012, Katis said, “We have been impressed with Keith’s work over the past two seasons as a recruiter, coach and administrator. He has strong leadership skills and knows what this programs goals and objectives are, and believe we are fortunate to have him leading our program. Clarion is committed to a strong, competitive NCAA Division I Wrestling program.”
The official announcement included this significant sentence in the second paragraph: “A search will begin to fill the position of assistant coach.”
Ferraro said, “I am truly honored to be named the interim head wrestling coach at Clarion University and look forward to the challenges that await me this season. The Clarion wrestling family is made up of the finest fans and supporters that wrestling has to offer. The commitment from our alumni and fans is an absolutely critical component as we pursue the success and greatness that the program is known for. Our current team is made up of a very young, but talented group. I believe it’s an exciting time to take the helm of such a storied program. I wish coach Letters the best in his new career and want to thank him for his guidance and support over the past two seasons.”
Ferraro has strong family ties and deep roots in Pennsylvania wrestling. The native of Brookville, Pa. is the son of the late Brookville High School head coach Lenny Ferraro, who coached the new Clarion coach for two-and-a-half years before Thad Turner took over the program. Keith was a three-time District Champion at Brookville High before going on to Lock Haven University where he was a member of the Bald Eagle wrestling program for four years before graduating in 2003.
Keith Ferraro launched his coaching career at Central Mountain High School where he served as a volunteer assistant for two seasons. During the 2005 season, he became the head coach at Brockway High, but after one season, took a teaching position and became an assistant coach at his high school alma mater, where he had served until coming to Clarion in 2011.
Letters, a Pennsylvania native and 2004 NCAA Division I mat champ at Lehigh University, said of his departure, “I would like to thank Clarion University, especially Dr. Whitney and Dave Katis, well as the Clarion Alumni, Pin Club and fans for the wonderful opportunity I had being able to coach this historic program. I have decided to step down as the head wrestling coach for an opportunity outside of wrestling. I will always remain a Clarion wrestling fan and supporter! I will miss the wrestlers, but look forward to watching them grow as student athletes and develop their futures.”
A glorious history… then, a history of changes
The Clarion wrestling program enjoyed tremendous success under long-time head coach Bob Bubb who during his time at the helm of the Golden Eagles from 1962-1992, could claim, among other mat greats, NCAA champs Bill Simpson, Wade Schalles and Kurt Angle, who went on to win a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. However, in recent years, the program has had a succession of head coaches, each who has served less than two years, starting in June 2011, when Teague Moore left the helm at Clarion after five years. In July that year, Matt Dernlan took the reins of the Golden Eagle mat program… only to leave less than one year later (May 2012) to take the head coaching position at New York’s Binghamton University. Troy Letters was named Clarion head coach in November 2012.