After coaching nine straight seasons at the University of California, Davis, the university cut the wrestling program (along with four other sports programs) due to budget concerns, leaving experienced Lennie Zalesky to find another coaching position.
His search led him to California Baptist University, one of the few Christian Universities with a wrestling team.
“I saw on the internet that [the position] was open and I inquired about it,” Zalesky said.
Prior to his long coaching stretch at UC Davis, Zalesky held coaching positions at the University of Iowa (his alma mater) and Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska, “Right next to Wasilla, Sarah Palin,” Zalesky said, with a chuckle.
In Alaska, both Zalesky and his wife taught foreign languages: Zalesky, Russian. His wife, Spanish.
“We were the majority of the foreign language department,” Zalesky said. “Two-thirds.”
Then, he returned to the Midwest for an assistant coaching position at Indiana University. After that, he coached at Culver Military Academy in Culver, IN, where he also retained the title, Dean of Students.
UC Davis, a division 1 school, was Zalesky’s next stop and now, he is on the brink of beginning his new coaching position at CBU and feels mostly prepared.
“I feel ready to coach, but at the same time there are still things that need to be done as far as team rules, team expectations and travel,” Zalesky said. “I’m about fifty percent there.”
The wrestling season begins in October.
Zalesky said his main goal this season is to, “teach really sound fundamentals, get to know the team, of course, and just start building in that retrospect.”
Having already met a few of the wrestlers, Zalesky said, “I feel like they’re really good kids.”
The wrestling team will practice everyday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and three weekday mornings each week to prepare them for their difficult competitions ahead.
Zalesky said, division one school often attend the competitions that the wrestling team takes part in.
“We have a tough schedule. I don’t ever think that’s going to change,” he said.
Zalesky was a collegiate and post-collegiate wrestler, winning silver medals in multiple tournaments, including: the 1983 Pan American Games, the 1984 World Cup, 1984 Tblisi Tournament and the 1983 Canadian Cup.
Micah Park, director of athletics, said, “We are thrilled to have a coach who not only fits the overall mission of our athletic department and university, but has such an impressive wrestling resume. Our goal is to be a major player in NCAA DII wrestling and we feel like we’ve put the right staff in place to achieve that goal.”