He was always the one watching, listening, learning.
That attention to detail has carried over from Andy Seras' 15-year competitive career as one of the nation's top Greco-Roman wrestlers to his new calling - coaching.
It carried over so much that, as a result of his leading the United States to a third-place showing in the 2001 World Championships, Seras has been named USA Wrestling's Greco-Roman Coach of the Year.
"It's an incredible honor," said Seras, a 1980 Niskayuna graduate who was a 1985 NCAA Division III champion, a five-time national champ and a 1988 Olympian. "All I tried to do was be me and help the guys on the team."
Seras had been chosen by Niskayuna's Joe DeMeo to be his assistant for the Worlds, which were scheduled for September in New York, but postponed and eventually moved to Athens in December after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Seras inherited the head coaching duties when health problems prevented DeMeo from honoring his obligation. The U.S. team finished with three medalists and its best result ever at the Worlds. Based on that success, Seras has been selected to serve as head coach for this year's World Championships, to be held in Moscow in September.
"Joe was having problems with his hip, and I took on the head coaching job," said Seras, who had been coached by DeMeo both at the University at Albany and under the Adirondack Three-Style Wrestling Association banner in national and international senior events. "It went well. It was an incredible experience.
"What I've found is that it really comes down to heart, who wants to win more. That's what it always boiled down to for me. Now, I have to find a way to articulate that."
Seras' resume as a competitor [also 12 straight appearances in the finals at the nationals, a silver in the 1994 World Cup, a gold at the 1991 Pan American Games and two top-10 finishes at the Worlds] helped him relate to the wrestlers on the 2001 team.
"I took what I learned from Joe DeMeo, from [Niskayuna coach] Joe Bena, from every coach I've rubbed shoulders with the past 20 years," said the 39-year-old Seras, who lives in Sandy Hook, Conn., with his wife, Karen. They are expecting their second child in the fall. "I've been fortunate to have been exposed to a lot of good coaching."
Seras, who serves as head G-R coach for the Sunkist Kids club and the Atlas Wrestling Club he founded in Connecticut, works closely with national team head coach Steve Fraser.
"Steve Fraser and I talk about things, and so far, when we've worked together, we've been on the same page," said Seras, who will be honored this weekend at the U.S. Senior Nationals in Las Vegas. "Last year, we were in full agreement. It was a team effort, with Steve leading the way.
"Where I come in is in the individual work, the little chats with the guys, maybe on the bus, or at breakfast, or over a beer after a tournament.
"I try to give them the benefit of whatever experience I have, both as a wrestler and a coach."
His background helped.
"You have to get your foot in the door," said Seras, who also serves as an unpaid assistant for Sacred Heart University. "Accomplishing what I did helped.
"I had some built-in respect with the guys on the team because of that, but you have to build those relationships by yourself."
Seras will be one of several individuals with Adirondack Three-Style Wrestling Association ties at the nationals. His Sunkist Kids team is among the favorites in the team race.
"We're only bringing about nine, so it's going to be tough to win the team title," he said. "The military teams - the Marines and Army - will be tough."
Olympic champ Rulon Gardner will not be participating, but Seras will have the two top-ranked wrestlers at 132 pounds, Jim Gruenwald and Dennis Hall.
"They should meet in the finals," said Seras.
For the first time in 18 years, no Greco-Roman wrestlers produced by ATWA are ranked in the top 10 in any weight class going into the nationals, which will use the new seven weight classes.
Two local collegians will be competing.
Clifton Park's Greg Parker, who reached the finals of the NCAA Championships last month at Pepsi Arena, and Salem's Carl Fronhofer both plan to compete.
Parker, a junior at Princeton, will wrestle at 185 pounds. Fronhofer, a junior at Pittsburgh, plans to go at 163.
Former world women's champion Kristie Marano, a Colonie graduate, is ranked second at 147.5 pounds.
Both the men's Greco-Roman and freestyle and the women's competition run Friday and Saturday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Back to USAWCT