WRESTLING: Upon call to the Hall, former wrestlers, coaching colleagues pay tribute to Platt’s McCarty

WRESTLING: Upon call to the Hall, former wrestlers, coaching colleagues pay tribute to Platt’s McCarty

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MERIDEN — It didn’t take much prompting for fellow coaches and former wrestlers to share their thoughts Thursday when talking about Platt coach Bryan McCarty’s imminent induction into the Connecticut Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

They’ve known him for decades, often in multiple

ways, be it as a former wrestler who became a rival coach or as a rival coach who became a good friend. Here, in their own words is what they had to say.

Joe Winoski

Before he became Maloney’s head wrestling coach three years ago, Joe Winoski was Bryan McCarthy’s assistant at Platt, and before that, from 2006-2009, he was one of McCarty’s wrestlers.

“I’ve gotten all three ways you can see around him. Coaching alongside him is a little different when you’re coaching against him. When you’re coaching alongside him, you learn all these little things here and there just by watching him and listening to him. He might not even be talking to you. You just listen to the way he talks to the kids. He’ll point something out you didn’t see.

“He’s taught me a lot on what to look for. Going into my third year as a head coach, I’m still thinking about all the things I’ve heard him say and watched him do while he was coaching. It’s helping me develop.

“It’s impressive. When you’re coaching alongside him, you notice a lot of things, but then when you’re coaching against him you find out new things. You see that maybe he switches his lineup a certain way and maybe it wouldn’t have made a big difference if I was coaching with him. When I’m coaching my own team against him? ‘Oh, wow, he switched that kid and that made a huge difference in the outcome of the match or in a sequence of a few matches.’

“I talk to him relatively often. I’m not that good with texting and keeping up, but he always sends a text here and there to see how I’m doing, how life’s going, how’s my health. Just making sure all his guys are good. He’ll follow you and make sure he keeps tabs on you and make sure you’re OK.

“Here we are, now he’s my rival, but a person I can honestly call one of my best friends. And a father figure, too.

“I can’t think of a person more deserving of this award than him. Patience: He’ll rarely yell. He’ll talk you down when you’re stressed out. He’ll get the best out of all his wrestlers. Whether some are more talented than others, he can get the best out of everybody.”

Derek Dion

Southington head coach Derek Dion is a contemporary of McCarty’s and has been coaching just as long. Their teams were former league rivals. They have a long tradition of practicing together in preparation for the state tournaments.

“In the two different demographics of towns, we face different challenges — not better or worse, but different. He has taken the challenges the city comes with and he has done an absolutely remarkable job. Not just wrestling — he’s had a lot of success and he’s had a lot of good wrestlers — but just to keep those kids focused, to get the numbers that he gets.

“Bryan’s got a real calm way of dealing with kids. He respects them and they respect him. If you look back, not just in wrestling, but in their lives, at how many kids Bryan has really helped out through their journey and kind of taught them, almost like a father figure, it’s really impressive.

“He’s one of the best-hearted dudes out there. I’ve always thought that. He’s always been a tough competitor, but he’s always had great sportsmanship. He’s just a good person and he’s just good for those kids.

“I applaud him for everything he’s done over these years. It’s kind of an honor to compete with him every year. He’s one of those people you love to compete against, but you also root for him, too.

“I’ve been very fortunate to grow a friendship with him over these 30 years. I feel like he’s one of my best friends in wrestling and I’m really happy for him.”

Luis Murillo

Luis Murillo, long active in Meriden Youth Wrestling and now a referee, first got to know Bryan McCarty as the young man who coached his son, Luis Jr., from 1998-2002, then as the older coach whose matches he still occasionally officiates.

“He’s been a staple of Platt wrestling for a long time. He’s always committed and, because he’s been there a long time, the consistency he places there every year helps out the program, and when he helps out the program he’s definitely helping out the kids he comes into contact with.

“Luis and Bryan matched really good together. Bryan knew who Lou was and — I’m sure he did this with the other kids — he nurtured in a special way with Luis. They really bonded. He knew what he had to do with Luis to bring him up to the level he wanted to get to.

“As part of a refereeing staff, when you’re talking, you get names thrown out. ‘I don’t like doing this guy’s matches; I don’t like this guy because of this.’ Never once have I heard anyone talk negative as far as wanting to do Bryan’s matches.

“Bryan’s even-keeled. He knows the refs do their best when go out there. He teaches kids that, in the end, the refs don’t win or lose matches for you. Never once have I heard any negative from the officials as far as Bryan is concerned.”

Luis Murillo, Jr.

One of Platt’s all-time greatest wrestlers, Luis Murillo Jr. won three Class M championships and capped his career winning the State Open 119-pound title in 2002.

“For who he is and what he has done in the wrestling community, and his mentorship not just on his wrestlers, but the school itself, it does not surprise me at all. It’s much deserved.

“He’s actively humble. That’s part of the example he sets for people that makes him more than deserving.

“The No. 1 thing I would say that sets him apart from all the other coaches and makes him him and so great is his genuiness. No matter who he’s talking to — he could be talking to the athletic director, he could be talking to a freshman 103-pounder, he could be talking to a parent — no matter what, his conversations are always the same. He’s always guinine and he’s always genuinely caring about people and the kids.

“I know how much Platt meant to him. He changed his whole life, his whole career so he could stay at Platt. He loves the school and that’s where he wanted to be.

“I’m in the Marine Corps now, I’m an infantry officer. I think about deployments and training and all that stuff, but my focus in the past four-five years has shifted greatly into, ‘Yes, I care about the mission, but what I care the most about is mentoring these young Marines.’ I feel like I can really relate to Bryan now when it comes to that. Maybe he impacted that in me.

“He was a big influence in my life, the coach he was to me, and I saw how much he helped his wrestlers through life, not just on the wrestling mat. He used the wrestling room and matches and tournaments to teach them about life and to make them better people.

“My mindset has changed to I care more about making better people than anything else in this job. I know Bryan has lived those 30 years that way as well. He cares more about that than winning, hands down. I can say that confidently. 

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