Lester Ware, a 1978 graduate of Southampton High School who was recently inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at Binghamton University, was hired as Southampton High School’s new varsity wrestling coach on Tuesday.
During his days as a student at Southampton, Mr. Ware wrestled in the heavyweight division and also excelled in football and basketball. His true passion was on the mat, however, where he became a county finalist before going on to finish in the top seven in the NCAA Tournament three times at Binghamton. Mr. Ware continued wrestling after college, winning international championships and also serving as an alternate on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team.
Mr. Ware now owns Personal Best, a one-on-one training and exercise business in Bridgehampton.
Southampton has been in the market for a new wrestling coach since former head coach and Southampton Elementary School physical education teacher Ryan McCready was fired by the district after being arrested on drug charges.
Southampton Athletic Director Darren Phillips said Tuesday night that Mr. Ware’s expertise and knowledge as well as his local ties make him a perfect fit to lead the program.
“He’s a local person and he knows Southampton really well,” Mr. Phillips said. “He’s been watching the program and he knows what it’s about. After having a conversation with him about his philosophy and where the program is, I felt like he’d be a great fit.”
Mr. Ware has plenty of coaching experience to go along with the many years he spent as a competitor. He was part of the coaching staff for a Southampton kids wrestling program a decade ago and also worked as an assistant coach at Albany State after he graduated from college. He also has experience coaching in the Olympic development program. In between, Mr. Ware has regularly volunteered his time to teach and coach wherever his help was needed. He worked last year with Julius Anglickas, Southampton All-County wrestler who recently graduated, and has also worked with other area high school teams.
Mr. Ware said Tuesday that he’s excited about the opportunity to lead the Mariner program.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the kids,” he said.
Mr. Ware added that he’ll bring not only his own experience to the table but also the lessons he has learned from some of the coaches who helped him become successful.
“I’ll bring the best from the coaches I’ve had over the years,” he said. “They’ll find out that I expect them to do the very best they can, and that doesn’t start and stop on the mat.”
Mr. Phillips said he’s excited about what he things Mr. Ware is going to bring to the program, particularly because of the success he had during his days in a Mariner uniform.
“I think it’s great because he’s lived it,” the athletic director said. “He has a lot of pride and he really wants to establish the program and build on what Ryan [McCready] did. I think he’s going to do a great job for us and the kids.”
To read more about Mr. Ware’s career as a wrestler and his recent induction into the Binghamton Athletic Hall of Fame, see this week’s Sports section.