Kersey native Mike Wehler helps student-athletes with decisions both on and off the mat as the head wrestling coach at Mercyhurst College in Erie.
Wehler is entering his eighth year as a head coach and said his job doesn't make him feel pinned down at all.
"I coach because I love almost everything about it. I enjoy the time I get to spend with my guys on a daily basis, we have a lot of fun together and develop very close relationships," Wehler said. "The job also involves a lot of hours, a lot of recruiting calls, and a lot of traveling, either with competitions or recruiting, but it's all worth it when you see your student-athletes reach their goals.
"I also enjoy helping them work their way through college life as they transition into their professional careers."
Wehler is a 1995 graduate of St. Marys Area High School and graduated with a B.S. in Health and Physical Education and a B.S. in Sports Administration from Lock Haven University in 2000. He earned a B.S. in Sports Administration from University of North Carolina-Pembroke in 2004. He also earned an M.A. in Physical Education from UNC-Pembroke in 2004 and has completed 24 credits towards his doctorate in Physical Education Teacher Education from West Virginia University.
"I started out teaching health and physical education at Hollidaysburg Area Senior High and coaching wrestling there," Wehler said. "After two years, I moved to North Carolina and became a graduate assistant at UNC-Pembroke (where I met my wife). I was then hired at West Liberty State College in West Virginia and taught in the health and physical education department while I also served as the head wrestling coach. I then was hired at Mercyhurst, where I'm starting my fifth year."
During the course of his career, Wehler has coached Mercyhurst's first-ever individual NCAA Division II National Champion; three NCAA finalists at Mercyhurst; 12 All-Americans as a head coach and seven more as an assistant; and 26 National Qualifiers as a head coach and 11 more as an assistant.
"At Mercyhurst, we finished in the top 10 at the NCAAs twice and placed at the NWCA National Duals (once at Mercyhurst and once at West Liberty)," Wehler said. "I've also coached 44 NWCA All-Academic Team Members, as well as one of my teams having the second-best GPA in the country (at West Liberty)."
Wehler is the son of Bob and Bonnie Wehler of Kersey. He has three brothers, Robbie, Russ, and Danny. He and his wife, Becky (Davis) Wehler, who is from Jacksonville, N.C., have two children: Maddie, 3 years old, and Max, 8 months.
"I've had many great leaders and mentors throughout my life...my parents most of all," Wehler said. "I've also learned valuable life lessons from all of my coaches in every sport I've ever played, from elementary through college athletics. To this day, I still have other coaches I talk to regularly that mentor me and help me with advice."
Wehler said he had a number of educators who mentored him, particularly Mr. Granche, Mr. Neubert and Mr. Desalve.
"If it wasn't for my teachers and coaches, I don't know that I would have gone to college," Wehler said. "I know for certain that my past teachers and coaches helped me mature over my younger years and take my education seriously."
Wehler said he hopes he is doing the same with his wrestlers and hopes to help them build their skills to succeed not only on the mats, but also in every aspects of their lives.
"I enjoy working with young motivated student-athletes," Wehler said. "Many people have had a profound impact on my life and I want to try to do the same for others."
Wehler said he continues to return to St. Marys whenever he can to visit with his family--and if he's not able to come to them, they go to him.
"I'm lucky in that I have a very supportive family and they attend a lot of our competitions, so I get to see them there as well," Wehler said.
He said what he misses most about St. Marys are "the people," especially friends made during his school years.
"As you grow up, everyone gets their own families, their jobs take them all over the place and you lose touch," Wehler said.
"I still have the memories, though."