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Coach Iammarino Pins 52nd Year at Beachwood

Coach Domenick Iammarino was hired by Beachwood City Schools in 1965

May 17, 2017

It was that time year again: trees began to shed their leaves and moms frantically buttoned their kids up in big coats. In crowded gyms across Northeast Ohio, wrestling season had begun.

Bison wrestlers anxiously waited for their names to be called to the mat. Beachwood, the smaller and less experienced team, was the clear underdog to Kenston, a well-established team.

The match was scheduled in the middle of the school day. Kenston’s entire student body was in the stands, staring menacingly at the Beachwood wrestlers.

“We were the guinea pigs,” recalls Domenick Iammarino, Beachwood’s head coach at the time.

The first Beachwood wrestler called to the mat was 103 lb. sophomore Marc Bilsky. Kenston’s wrestlers were soon to be surprised by Beachwood’s preparation. Bilsky managed to pin his opponent with a cradle.

“I will never forget that pin,” Iammarino said.

Beachwood won the first match, then the second…

“We won the first three matches, and Kenston was shocked,” Iammarino added.

Although Beachwood’s wrestlers ultimately lost to Kenston that day, they proved themselves worthy opponents.

“We still did pretty well for the first match of the season,” Iammarino said. “We won the first three matches that day, and we didn’t even have our uniforms yet.”

We won the first three matches and Kenston was shocked.”

— Domenick Iammarino

It was the first match of the 1965 season, the first for Beachwood’s brand new wrestling team.

76-year-old Iammarino has taught and coached at BHS for over fifty years. He taught introduction to business, business law, typing and driver’s education. After retiring as a full-time teacher in 2003, Iammarino has been working as a special education assistant. But he is most well-known for his work as a coach.

Today, Iammarino, or ‘Coach I’ as his athletes refer to him, continues to serve as asst. coach for middle school wrestling and head coach for middle school cross country.

Iammarino’s greatest accomplishments were achieved during his time as head wrestling coach at BHS. He is regarded as the ‘Godfather of Beachwood Wrestling’, according to his bio on the Beachwood Schools web site.

Iammarino has been involved in wrestling for most of his life, but he didn’t start wrestling until the 1957-58 season, his senior year at Cleveland’s Collinwood High School.

“I only wrestled one year in high school, and the reason for that is–and this sounds crazy–I played basketball,” he explained. “I was pretty good at basketball.

“I was a little guy, I was no big star,” Iammarino added. “I was 5’5” and was in the 112 lb. weight class at the time. I remember in my senior year the [wrestling] coach came up to me and said, ‘Why don’t you come out for wrestling? You look like a pretty tough little guy.’”

Iammarino has been involved in wrestling for most of his life, but he didn’t start wrestling until the 1957-58 season, his senior year at Cleveland’s Collinwood High School.”

“Well I said that I play basketball, and he said, ‘Well ok, but you’re not going to be a starter, you know that. So why don’t you give [wrestling] a try?’”

So Iammarino gave it a try, and he had a respectable season.

“I only wrestled for one year, and I did pretty well,” he said. “I won more than I lost, and I went to the last match to qualify for states; which I only lost by one point.”

That experience whet his appetite for the sport, as he continued his wrestling and academic career at Kent State.

Iammarino did not immediately go into teaching.

“I went to John Carroll to get my teaching certificate,” he said. “It took me a while since I got married very early, had a couple of babies right away and I had to work too.”

He was hired at Beachwood largely by chance.

“When I finally got my teaching certificate, I remember going into the job placement office at John Carroll.”

Around the same time, Beachwood called John Carroll with a job posting for someone who could teach business and coach wrestling. The placement officer knew just the right guy. It was 1965.

Just six years after the program was established, Beachwood wrestling had their first State Qualifier and Placer, then 105 lbs. Senior Ron Madow. One year later, Iammarino shepherded his first State Champion to the title, then 126 lbs. Senior Mark Hawald.”

“It may have been a little luck, but I was prepared for it,” Iammarino said. “Obviously, I had my interview and I got the job.”

Beachwood’s Athletic Director Ryan Peters (class of ’92 alum)  explained what Beachwood wrestling was like before Iammarino arrived.

“Beachwood wrestling was started in the 1964-1965 season by a gym teacher named James Schrock who wanted to start a wrestling club,” Peters said. “To my understanding, Schrock would get a group of guys together for a few minutes to work them out and have them wrestle each other and then go home.”

After the 1964-1965 season, Iammarino was hired to start an official team.

During Iammarino’s years as head wrestling coach from 1965 to 1986, the team had numerous honorable achievements. Just six years after the program was established, Beachwood wrestling had their first State Qualifier and Placer, then 105 lbs. Senior Ron Madow. One year later, Iammarino shepherded his first State Champion to the title, then 126 lbs. Senior Mark Hawald.

During Iammarino’s time as head coach, he was named “Greater Cleveland Coach of the Year” in 1976 and again in 1980. In 1978, Iammarino was named “Ohio’s Coach of the Year”.

1975 graduate Peter Cimoroni, who wrestled for Iammarino, became assistant coach in the 1978-79 season and was Beachwood’s head wrestling coach from 1987 to 1992 and 2014 to 2017.

“The 70s was the golden era for Beachwood wrestling, and I attribute it to Coach I’s ability,” Cimoroni described, explaining that the team had record numbers of state qualifiers and champions during that time. “I went out for wrestling in my freshman year because I wanted to be great for football since I was small, and I played center at 5’7” and 150lbs. Wrestling [turned me] into a piece of steel and made me into the football player I was.”

“Iammarino was inspirational, fatherly, knowledgeable and candid,” Cimoroni continued. “While he was supporting and encouraging, he would also tell you how much work you had to do.”

Cimoroni stated that, although his coaching methods sometimes diverge from Iammarino’s, the basis of his method can be traced to Iammarino’s approach.

Iammarino was inspirational, fatherly, knowledgeable and candid. While he was supporting and encouraging, he would also tell you how much work you had to do.”

— Peter Cimoroni

“My foremost goal is to create good human beings; great wrestlers come second,” Cimoroni said. “Coach I. always preached to do the right thing, and I took that into my coaching career. I love him like a father.”

Iammarino retired as Beachwood’s head coach after the 1983-1984 wrestling season.

“After 19 years, I felt I didn’t want to coach any more, which is crazy, but I was still teaching business here,” he said. “I felt I needed time away from wrestling. So I resigned, and I hooked on an assistant coach at John Carroll for one year.”

Iammarino explains that after his year as assistant coach at John Carroll, he was offered a position to coach wrestling at Brush High School.

“I knew Brush’s athletic director,” Iammarino explained. “He called me and asked if I wanted to take their head coaching position.”

Iammarino was head wrestling coach at Brush from 1985 to 1992.

“After teaching at Beachwood all day, I would go to Brush and coach wrestling [there],” he said.

During Iammarino’s time at Brush, the Arc wrestling team won several championships and a respectable number of wrestlers went on to compete — and many to place — at the state tournament.

However, Iammarino was abruptly non renewed at Brush after the 1991-1992 wrestling season.

“Brush hired a new football coach, which had nothing to do with me, but he brought in one of his assistants to coach wrestling,” Iammarino explained.

Although Iammarino wasn’t coaching at Beachwood, he was teaching a variety of classes. One of these was a typing class, which Ryan Peters happened to be in.

“I never had him in business class, although I wanted to take the class, but I did have him in typing,” he said. “I loved his class.”

“He was very, very hard on the wrestlers, and it was very hard to get an A in his class,” Peters added. “I would say, ‘Coach, it’s typing, come on!’ He was a tough teacher and you really had to earn your grade. He was [also] just a great teacher. Kids loved having Coach I.”

After coaching at Brush, Iammarino went on to become the head wrestling coach at Orange High School for the 1992-1993 season before returning to Beachwood as asst. coach.

Also in 1992, Iammarino was inducted into the Ohio Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Ryan Peters’ brother Scott Peters coached the Beachwood team at the time. He invited Iammarino to come back and work with him as assistant coach for the 1993-1994 wrestling season. Thus, Iammarino resumed his role as a Beachwood coach.

One of Iammarino’s most successful wrestlers during his second round as head coach was 2006 graduate Kevin Lipp. According to Lipp’s bio on the Beachwood Schools website, he is regarded as “one of Beachwood’s most accomplished wrestlers in school history.” During his freshman year of wrestling, Lipp won the Division III State Championship at 112 lbs.

During his sophomore and junior years, Lipp placed 3rd in the Division III State Championship at 112 lbs. and 135 lbs. respectively. Also, during his junior year, he won the NHSCA Junior National Championship, which is considered one of the most prestigious wrestling tournaments in the Country.

In his senior year, Lipp won the Division III State Championship at 140 lbs. and was voted Division III Wrestler of the Year. In his high school wrestling career, Lipp was a four-time team MVP, two-time District Champion, four-time member of Team Ohio’s National team and had a career record of 151-15, placing him second on the all-time Beachwood win list in wrestling.

Lipp explained how Iammarino introduced him to wrestling at a young age.

“I started wrestling when I was six years old and met Coach I. when I was eight or nine,” he said. “He was still officially the head coach of the high school team then. When I was in middle school, both the middle school and high school teams would practice behind the bleachers in the gym.”

There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a kid accomplish his or her goals and dreams…”

— Domenick Iammarino

Lipp explained that Iammarino would personally help him in wrestling during his middle school days.

“Coach I. is one of the most dedicated coaches that any athlete could ever meet,” he said. “He’s [also] very organized and very fair to every single one of his athletes. Coach I. is altogether a great guy, and, in terms of coaching, he knew how to put his athletes in the best spot to be successful.”

Iammarino’s story as head varsity coach ended after the 2004-2005 wrestling season. After his two goes as head varsity coach, Iammarino has totalled an astounding 30+ years as the position, and has the longest tenure of any coach in Beachwood history. s achievements as coach include coaching 12 State Wrestling Champions and 72 State Place Winners/Qualifiers. His teams also won the Metropolitan Area Conference (MAC -8) in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Since Iammarino’s retirement as head coach in 2005, he has worked as head coach and assistant coach for the middle school wrestling team. Also, Iammarino has been helping out with other sports such as the middle school cross country team.

However, Iammarino’s life has also been struck by tragedy. On the morning of Feb. 27, 2012, his grandson, 16-year-old Daniel Parmertor, was one of three students gunned down at Chardon High School.

In an interview with the Beachcomber in March 2012, Iammarino explained what that day was like.

“That morning, the call came in that my grandson had been life flighted to MetroHealth,” he said. “The panic in the voice of my daughter, who called, was unreal. An hour later, I got another call from my other daughter who was at the hospital too, and she said ‘He’s gone.’ The shock… I literally fell back in a chair. February 27 was absolutely the worst day of my life.”

Despite the adversity that Iammarino has faced after the death of his grandson, he has prevailed since and has been focusing on what he enjoys in life: coaching.

Iammarino is quoted in his bio on the Beachwood website:

“I absolutely love coaching… Coaching is who I am. Working with young people is extremely gratifying. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a kid accomplish his or her goals and dreams… Beachwood has been wonderful to me and my family for over [50] years. I am grateful for everything I have and everything I accomplished as a coach and teacher over the years at BHS.”

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5 Comments

5 Responses to “Coach Iammarino Pins 52nd Year at Beachwood”

  1. Hriday Dutt on May 17th, 2017 2:22 pm

    Coach I. is a really great guy!

    [Reply]

  2. Dan Ruben on May 18th, 2017 11:10 am

    Coach I was a great role model for me. He was passionate, he pushed us hard, he loved his work and the wrestlers and he always showed up for us. He was a great storyteller and we shared many laughs. He fostered a wrestling team family.

    It’s good to see that many other wrestlers had a chance to learn from Coach I as I did.

    Dan Ruben, Class of 1974

    [Reply]

  3. Jonathan Schwarz on May 19th, 2017 1:40 am

    Never had Coach I as a teacher or Coach, but he cared about his students like they were his own children. Coach I is one of the nicest teachers/coaches I have ever met. Great sense of humor, was very helpful, well rounded, and very approachable. I can’t think of anything negative about Coach I. Coach I has such big heart, and he is tough when he needs to be. Last time I saw Coach I, was on the Green Line Rapid after the 2016 Cleveland National Air Show. I said my condolences to his grandson, and told him I lost my father a year before to pancreatic cancer. He felt absolutely terrible. He told me, “Losing a loved one is hard, but you got to move on, but never let their memory fade.” Coach I is a very wise man, as he always had great advice. Coach I, there is not enough words to describe how awesome you are!

    [Reply]

  4. Marci Kaplan on May 19th, 2017 3:23 pm

    I love Coach I. He was my typing teacher in 1976. My nephew’s are Jordan and Kevin Lipp and Coach I was instrumental in both of their wrestling career’s. He is not only a terrific coach, he is a phenomenal person who is loved and respected by everyone who has the honor to know him.

    [Reply]

  5. Ron Simmons on May 20th, 2017 10:26 am

    When reminiscing all my memories revolving around my experiences with Coach I, I could honestly write a book! They are the roots of many important things that have become a foundation for much of what I have accomplished and what I am proud of as a man. To try and synthesize it best, I will reprise a portion of my recent induction speech given when being inducted into this year’s Beachwood’s Gallery of Success.

    …Then there was Mr. Domenick Iammarino, better known as “Coach I”, who more than my business and typing teacher, was also our very successful wrestling coach. In my sophomore year, he recruited me as his team’s manager. You see, Coach I needed one – and because of his reputation, I wanted to see what I could learn even though I had no real interest in becoming a wrestler. I was in the early years of my career as a competitive cyclist and cross country skier. In short… through Coach I, I learned what it looked — and felt like to really commit yourself to something – To work hard and smart. And, no matter how good you are – or think you are… digging deep into strengthening your weaknesses pays rewards. Since then, every team I have ever earned a spot on and with every coach that has ever coached me, the lessons I learned under Coach I -have always resonated with me and has followed me in so many aspects of my life.

    So, Coach I, I thank you.

    [Reply]

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