“Wrestling is one of the most demanding sports that anyone can compete in,” said this year’s wrestling coach of the year Kurt Pelletier. The Windham High School coach has been coaching for 10 years in Windham. He also refereed for eight years on the local high school circuit.
Ten years ago, he started Kratos Wrestling Club for children in grades kindergarten through fifth and has made that a successful “feeder” program for the middle school and high school teams.
Two weeks ago, he was notified that he has been voted coach of the year by his fellow Southern Maine Athletic Association (SMAA) coaches.
“I have a good rapport with all the coaches in the state,” Pelletier said. Having refereed for many years, he has gotten to know the other coaches and considers them personal friends.
“It’s nice to get the award. It has a lot of meaning. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing – putting the sport on display. The kids are my ultimate goal so they have something to go back to, or to remember back on,” Pelletier said. “I can’t say enough that the award should have two names on it.” He referred to his assistant coach Thom Johnson, who Pelletier considers his co-coach. “We both have the same philosophy and even wore the same color clothes at regionals,” he said. “Unfortunately, the coach gets all the accolades.”
Pelletier said he doesn’t need a plaque. He got a letter from Superintendent Sandy Prince and emails from most of the administration congratulating him. “It’s good to know that they’re there to support me,” he said.
This year there were 28 athletes on his team and they had a winning team record.
As a coach interested in promoting the sport and creating wrestlers, he agreed to train wrestlers from Gray and Greely. “I never wanted to refuse anyone who was willing and wanted to wrestle. We’ll be there for them,” he said. The State champion this year was Pelletier’s wrestler from Greely.
Pelletier’s wrestlers are dedicated and want to be there. “Winning is not everything. I have a good rapport with the kids. Having a good group of kids that do whatever the coach wants is good. It’s an individual sport, but you can’t do it without your team,” he said.
Pelletier’s full-time job is working for Homeland Security, but his number one priority, he said, is his family - his wife, Aileen, a teacher at Windham Primary School, son Devon, who is at the Air Force Academy and daughter Bailey, who is a junior at Windham High School.
“As a coach, you look at these kids as one of the family. I have 28 kids that belong to me. I have the trust of the kids, parents, administration and community,” he said.
Pelletier comes from a wrestling family from Fort Kent, where his brother is the coach and his nephew just beat Pelletier’s old high school wrestling record. “We still coach the way we were coached 26 years ago,” he said.
His son called home during Air Force basic training and told his father, “This is nothing like wrestling practice.”