CLIFTON PARK — After 24 years as the varsity wrestling coach at Shenendehowa, Rob Weeks is stepping away — but not too far — from the Plainsmen program at the end of this season.
This season, Weeks said, will be his last as head coach, though he’ll remain on the staff in another capacity.
“I want to be able to say that what I’m doing is of value to others around me and I still feel that that’s the case, but I also know that I’ve been in sport mode long enough to see that some people stay in it until they’re a little too long in the tooth and what’s the justification?” Weeks said at a practice earlier this week. “Is it just because you’re supposed to be? I don’t personally feel like that.”
He said that now is the right time.
“I’m not disappearing,” Weeks said. “I just think that there are people in our program that have done everything for me and have been loyal to the end. I think our program will only go to that next level when shaking the tree a little bit.”
This season, Weeks has shared head coaching responsibilities with long-time assistant Chris Capezzuti.
“I wanted to figure out if I want to fall into the varsity assistant position or as JV coach, it depends on what the needs are of the program,” Weeks said. “This year was kind of an experiment with myself to see if it was something that I was really comfortable doing, which I think I am.”
As the season winds down, Weeks is more confident in his decision.
“I’ll know more next year when reality hits and the season starts, and I’m not the one doing the barking at the beginning of practice,” Weeks said with a laugh. “Capezutti has been my assistant for a long time and has done a tremendous job. Our infrastructure is set up so that if I wanted to step down and take a different role, there’s still things that will fall in place immediately and that’s something I’m fortunate to have at my disposal.”
Weeks joined the Shenendehowa Central School District in 1997 as a physical education teacher and the Plainsmen’s JV wrestling coach. He took over the varsity program in 1998. His teams have captured 15 Section II championships and he has coached 10 individual state champions.
Weeks will join three of his past multi-time state champions — two-time champs Hunter Meys and Kevin Parker, and three-time champion Austin Meys — in the New York-Upstate Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Weeks’ dedication to the sport was recognized by his former wrestlers.
“You can always tell who’s gonna have a good team, it’s the coaches who run practices, camps that travel all summer long and Weeks did that every year,” two-time state champion Hunter Meys said. “ I think from the time I was in seventh grade to 12th grade, the longest I was apart from him was like two weeks. So he put the time in and that’s how you build a program.”
Meys was known as a calm and cerebral wrestler, a similar demeanor to his high school coach. Weeks, who has 316 career dual meet wins, isn’t known to be demonstrative or a screamer during a match.
Parker said that the product that came out of Weeks’ wrestling room was different from most other places.
“Being an adult, being out in the real world and thinking back to the team and the culture we had, it was abnormal,” Parker said from his office in St. Louis. “The type of people that I got to be on a team with, in my graduating class, they then graduated from West Point, Stony Brook, Williams. I think that comes from the fact that the whole coaching staff built a culture of excellence.”
That mentality didn’t just stay in the Shenendehowa wrestling room.
“It’s something that’s not just on the mat, not just in the classroom, but throughout your life,” Parker said. “It’s something that you really take with you when you get early on in your life and I think that’s something that he instituted.”
Now is the right time for Weeks.
“The first 10 years I was at practice every day, coaching pee wee’s every night, tournaments every weekend,” Weeks said. “It’s a grind that I can’t imagine anybody being able to do that for much longer in this day and age than I have successfully.
“You can do it, but your successes are truly connected to the infrastructure that you have established and right now the timing is perfect.”