Family legacy does not make one a Hall-of-Famer. Hard work, sacrifice, dedication and success paves the way to the accolade.
Will “Scheny” Schenerlein, former recreation director at The Center of Anna Maria Island, recently received such top honors.
As a former wrestler and coach, Scheny, originally from Parkersburg, West Virginia, received an official notification on Sept. 3 that he was named to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. His contributions to the sport not only as an athlete but also as a leader, teacher, coach and mentor set his place in the permanent history of the sport.
His wrestling career, including that of a competitive wrestler into his 30s, ended as he got older and the years of experience in the sport took its toll on him physically.
Scheny moved his family to Anna Maria Island in 2013 and he worked at The Center for several years before moving on to be a world history, sociology and psychology teacher at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota.
As a coach and teacher, Scheny’s childhood dreams came true.
Starting his wrestling career at the age of seven, Scheny knows what it is like to be young and training for the competitive world of wrestling. While at The Center, he took his experience as a wrestler and coach to the mats at the community center with the Island youth.
Influenced by both of his older brothers, Bob and Scott, Scheny was inspired to make a name for himself and impact the lives of countless wrestlers. As a child, his biggest inspiration was his high school coach, Joe Handlan. Later down the road, the wrestlers he had the pleasure and honor to coach became Scheny’s inspiration.
Schenerlein notes that he has “… always wanted to be a coach … [I] had great coaches at all levels as role models and was an assistant [coach] under great leaders as well.”
Despite knee, hip and neck injuries over the years, nothing kept Scheny from the sport. Over the many years, a number of the wrestlers coached under Scheny went on to college and beyond. A number of them became coaches themselves.
During his career, he coached three national champions, 14 All-Americans and NCAA All-Americans, as well as 25 state champions, four state championship teams, and five national teams ranked in the top 20.
Scheny sincerely notes, “… if it wasn’t for all the people in my life, especially the kids I coached, I would be nothing. I love them all like my own and they know it.”
His influences on the mat and in the gym with his athletes led him to be previously named by USA Wrestling as the National Coach of the Year, as well as this year’s induction into the Hall of Fame.
Scheny states fondly, “I still receive notes from former wrestlers thanking me for being a positive role model in their lives.”
The only regret in the sport that he has is ending his high level-coaching career early to pursue other interests.
Working at The Center gave Scheny the opportunity to start coaching again. With the kids at the community center, he groomed many boys and girls for local competition. Witnessing the little wrestlers develop as athletes and individuals and watching their skills improve added to his proudest and most memorable wrestling moments.
Scheny holds his parents as his biggest supporters and positive influences during his wrestling career. As a coach at The Center, he had the opportunity to not only coach local kids in the sport he loves, but also his oldest son Harrison – continuing the family legacy.
While Scheny does hope his sons follow his footsteps, he is supportive in all of their activities. Harrison continues to wrestle and Scheny believes his youngest child, Bodie, has the build and personality to be successful in the sport.
Through all of the sacrifices made during his career, including fighting through injuries and preparing for meets by spending many nights alone “cutting weight,” Scheny says he would without a doubt do it all over again.
Lee Roy Smith, executive director of the Hall of Fame and Museum, noted in his letter to Scheny, “This award acknowledges that [his] life has been significant and [he] is leaving behind a legacy that others admire.” Smith goes on to say Scheny has “… a special place in the heritage of the sport …”
Scheny was recently formally presented with the Hall of Fame honors and recognized at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
He believes, “There is not a better sport to teach character, self-discipline, loyalty, respect, or honor than wrestling.”
Schenerlein truly believes, “Once you have wrestled, everything else in life is easy!”