Midview athletic director Creg Jantz didn’t have to look far to replace a pair of head coaches last week. Jantz announced the promotion of Middies assistant coaches Shawn Bristow in wrestling and Rick Verlotti in hockey in a news release Monday.
“The best organizations prepare and hire within,” Jantz said. “It’s an ideal situation for an AD to not have to go outside looking for new coaches.”
Jantz didn’t even post the wrestling position when former coach Don Caramell resigned last month.
“(Bristow) had spent the last six years under Coach Caramell and he was already a teacher in the district — it was a no-brainer,” Jantz said. “With the hockey position, we had four good candidates and Rick came in, interviewed well and won the job. He has a lot of hockey knowledge.”
Both coaches’ resumes are impressive.
Bristow, an elementary school physical education teacher, was a three-time state placer at Avon Lake. He finished fourth as a sophomore in 1994, was the state runner-up as a junior and won the 130-pound state title his senior year.
Bristow wrestled for Kent State, was inducted into the Lorain County Wrestling Hall of Fame in March and will be inducted into the Shoremen’s Hall of Fame in the fall.
“I was perfectly content being an assistant, but in the back of my mind I knew that I eventually wanted to be a head coach,” Bristow said. “I just didn’t know it was going to come so soon.”
Bristow helped Caramell lead the Middies to three West Shore Conference championships the last four years, including the past two. He’ll bring back David Schatz as one of his assistants, and he said he’s been on the phone with former high school and college teammates looking for an interested party for his other assistant position.
“We’ve been doing a lot of good things the last few years, so I don’t want to change a whole lot,” Bristow said. “We had a nice set-up, with me at the elementary school recruiting for the biddy program and Don at the middle school recruiting. So we’re going to have to make sure we find a way to keep that going, too.”
While Midview has had success in its conference and in several regular-season tournaments, the Middies are still looking for their first state qualifier since Dennis Archer in 1994. Ending the drought is one of Bristow’s top priorities.
“We’ve got kids going to the Wrestling Factory in Lakewood and to The Barn in LaGrange,” he said. “It’s a year-round sport now, and that’s what it’s going to take to get a kid through that tough Division I sectional and even tougher district.”
Verlotti also was part of a solid showing for the Midview hockey team last season. The Middies won the Blue West division title and the Baron Cup III championship in his only year with the program. Verlotti said he was surprised former coach Don Urig stepped down.
“Last year was a good learning experience,” he said. “This season we’ll probably be light, numbers-wise. But I think we’re going to be able to continue to put good teams on the ice.”
Verlotti began playing in the Elyria youth hockey leagues when he was 5 years old, and played for Elyria High until he graduated in 1988. He’s spent the last 15 years coaching in those same youth leagues, leading the U12 and U14 spring teams and the Elyria Panthers since 2002.
“I have known a lot of these kids, coached them, since they were 7, 8 years old,” Verlotti said. “I’ve got a son who’s 11 in the sixth grade, and I know a lot of the kids in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.”
Meaning he’s familiar with the incoming talent at Midview for years to come.
“Oh, there’s some incredible talent coming,” he said. “Some fantastic players. It’s really exciting to think about what we might have over the next few years.”