Every time you walk into the gymnasium to watch a wrestling tournament and see the order of competition on a wall video display, think about Frank Vulcano.
Every time you follow a tournament on your cell phone, think about Frank Vulcano.
Every time you see a tournament that runs smoothly and efficiently, think about Frank Vulcano.
The athletic director at Canon-McMillan High School has been a driving force in making wrestling a more fan-enjoyable event than any other person I have come into contact with in my 40 years of covering the sport for the Observer-Reporter.
And now, Vulcano is getting the recognition he greatly deserves, not only for the reasons I initially listed but for a wrestling career that is distinguished and an administrative career that more times than not has come up with the right solutions to the sport’s problems.
Vulcano will be a member of the 2020 Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame class that will be honored May 17 at the Mountain View Country Club in Boalsburg, near State College.
Joining Vulcano at the induction ceremonies are Dave Ciafre, a longtime coach at Sharon High School; Bobby Ferraro, a two-time state champion from Lewisburg; Bob Ferraro Sr., who had a long career as a wrestler, coach and contributor to the sport; Tim Flynn, who coached three NCAA champions, including Waynesburg’s Josh Koscheck, at Edinboro University; Jarrod King, a two-time state champion from Connellsville; Joe Kislin of Wilkes Barre GAR; Walter Peppelman, a four-time PIAA champion from Central Dauphin High School; and Scott Schleicher, a PIAA champion from William Allen High School.
Vulcano is a 1981 graduate of Chartiers-Houston High School and a 1985 graduate of California University. Vulcano compiled a 77-9-1 record in high school and finished in third place in the state tournament as a senior at 185 pounds.
He is a wrestling official and heads the WPIAL wrestling steering committee. He has been a member of the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic committee for more than 25 years, 20 of them as co-chairman.
“I was shocked at first when I found out because this is the coaches association and I never coached wrestling,” said Vulcano, who is being enshrined as a contributor. “It’s very exciting.”
Most people recognize Vulcano as being the director for the Powerade tournament, which is held at Canon-McMillan over the Christmas break. Vulcano took it over from his father, Frank, who started the event in 1967 at California University.
Under Frank Vulcano Jr.’s guidance, the tournament went from a respected event in the state to one of the best tournaments in the country. It annually lands some of the greatest and most powerful wrestling programs in the nation.
“Powerade is a family tradition and we want to continue that,” said Vulcano. “My father built a great legacy with that tournament and we want to continue that.”
One of the things I am most grateful for from Vulcano is the way he pushed to bring wrestling events into the 21st-century from a technology standpoint. When I first arrived in Washington to cover the sport for the Observer-Reporter, it was amazing how confusing and disorganized most of these events were, especially to the fans.
Now, many of the tournaments can be found on the Internet and followed by fans without needing a degree in computer science.
“Just being around it as long as I have and keeping up with the technology of today, I tried to make it fan-friendly, coach-friendly and just a good overall experience,” Vulcano said.
Vulcano actually made a name for himself as a football player at Cal. He was a member of the Vulcans’ 1984 conference championship team and was an All-American.
Vulcano’s success with the Powerade tournament could not have happened without the help and dedication of a large group of individuals who want to see the tournament maintain its high level of success.
It’s a success story this community should celebrate.