Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

Mention the word barn to a farmer, and he will tell you it’s a wonderful place to store bales of hay, keep your tools organized and provide a place to park your tractor.

Mention the word barn to just about any wrestler in the area and he might tell you it’s a place where champions are developed.

The leader of “The Barn” was Jerry Seaman, who died last week. He was the heart and soul of the place when it opened in 1990 and those who entered this wrestling practice facility left a more talented competitor.

It was supposed to be a restaurant, serving people traveling along the Route 40 corridor. But one of his former wrestlers, Jeff Breese Sr., had other ideas.

“Where are we putting the wrestling room?” Breese told Dale Lolley in a feature story for pennstatewrestlingclub.org.

Seaman hesitated, wondering whether he had the time or the inclination to handle a room full of wannabes.

In 2014, long after “The Barn” became famous for the talented wrestlers it turned out for its Flight Time Wrestling Club, Seaman was inducted into the Washington-Greene Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. The very first wrestling champion from McGuffey High School, in 1963, had returned the gift of success in spades to the community.

And none of them was more deserving than Jeremy Hunter, who became a rare four-time PIAA champion and would go on to further success at Penn State. He and Jeff Breese Jr., a two-time PIAA champion for McGuffey, helped make “The Barn” one of the top training facilities in the area.

It would not be surprising to see such wrestling standouts as Vertus Jones and Troy Letters wandering through the basement of “The Barn” looking for workout partners.

Seaman, who was an EIWAL champion and runner-up at Penn State, was tough, and so were his training sessions. But that was what his “students” wanted. Opponents might beat you because they had more talent but they didn’t beat you because they were tougher.

That toughness was never so important to Seaman than in 2010, when a fall from a roof on his property left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. “The Barn” closed after Seaman’s accident. Watching wrestlers work out in front of him was just too much to take.

Seaman showed up at many wrestling events after the accident, where former “students” always made a point to go up and wish him well. That type of respect had to be earned in the wrestling world and there was no doubt Seaman paid the dues.

He finished high school with a 55-7 record and the PIAA gold medal. He was 33-10-2 at Penn State and served as co-captain on the 1966 and ‘67 teams.

He was head coach at McGuffey from 1980 to 1983 and had a small part in the movie “Reversal.”

While the legacy lives on with those who trained at “The Barn,” Seaman will always be looked upon as its leader.

Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached at jtuscano@observer-reporter.com

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