Brad Silimperi is best known in this area as coach of the very successful Council Rock High School South wrestling program.
But Silimperi is a product of the Lehigh Valley. He enjoyed a tremendous career wrestling at Nazareth.
Recently, the District 11 Wrestling Hall of Fame inducted five new members, and Silimperi was one of them. The ceremony took place at a Best Western in Northampton County.
"I was pretty moved by it," he said. "It was very humbling."
Silimperi was inducted along with official Barry Rutt, a referee at three PIAA championships; Chuck Madsen, a contributor to youth league wrestling; Tom Heilman, who wrestled at Easton and coached at Wilson; and Terry Iasiello, widow of former Bethlehem Catholic coach Tony Iaisello and the co-founder of the District 11 Hall of Fame banquet.
In addition, 21 senior wrestlers were honored as scholar-athletes, and two were singled out as winners of an essay contest on, "Why I Love Wrestling."
Silimperi grew up wrestling for the Nazareth midget wrestling program, and continued in elementary and junior high, setting the stage for a terrific high school career.
At Nazareth (class of 1990), he won 131 matches and recorded a school-record 493 takedowns. He captured three District 11 championships, four Northeast Region crowns and a PIAA title at 98 pounds as a sophomore in 1988, when he went 35-0.
He has countless fond memories of wrestling for the Blue Eagles.
"You never forget your roots," he said. "I'm still one of their No. 1 fans."
In his acceptance speech, he thanked his family, coaches, teammates and the community.
"I tried to convey a message that it wasn't just me going in," he said. "I'm a product of what we call 'The Nazareth Way.' "
Silimperi recalls Nazareth battling archrivals Northampton, Easton and Phillipsburg (New Jersey) in front of packed gyms, with some matches being moved to Lehigh University's Stabler Arena.
"That was considered the golden age of District 11 wrestling. The cafeteria would be filled with people watching it on closed-circuit TV, and they would turn people away at the door," he said. "I really wish kids wrestling dual meets could experience that today."
Silimperi went on to twice qualify for the NCAA Division I championships while wrestling at Lock Haven. His college coach, Carl Poff, was at the banquet.
After college, Silimperi began teaching and coaching in the Council Rock School District, where he has remained for 22 years.
He started off as a junior high school and an assistant at Council Rock. When Council Rock South opened in 2002, he became coach, and the Golden Hawks have become perhaps the premier program in District One.
In 15 years as coach, Silimperi has a 228-86 record. In the Suburban One League, he has gone 100-12 with 12 championships. Seven of those 12 losses came in the program's first year.
Silimperi has coached nine PIAA champions, and his 2005 squad shared the state team title.
"Over the past 15 years, we have tried to not only set the bar, but raise the bar," he said.
The CR South wrestling program is known for having top-notch assistant coaches and a strong booster club, and for running the prestigious Escape the Rock tournament.
As much as Silimperi loved his time wrestling at Nazareth and as hard as he still pulls for the Blue Eagles, he is happy where he is.