The wrestling career of Lennie Zalesky, head coach of California Baptist University’s wrestling team, has taken him all over the world, both as an athlete and a coach. Through positions at prep schools and universities, God ultimately led him to coach at CBU.
After traveling the world wrestling in tournaments from 1983 to 1986, he began his coaching career at his alma mater, the University of Iowa. He also spent time coaching at the NCAA Division I University of California at Davis before the position at CBU opened up.
“I had wanted to work at a private Christian university for a while. CBU seemed like a good fit in every aspect,” Zalesky said. “I felt good about the program here, and there is a lot of support.”
Under Zalesky’s leadership, the wrestling team made a successful transition to the NCAA Division II as well as the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. In his time here, Zalesky has coached 18 All-American Lancers and four individual national champions.
As a wrestler, Zalesky spent time competing in worldwide competitions such as the 1983 Pan American Games and the 1984 World Cup. Traveling the world gave him an opportunity to be taught and coached by different people, giving him more knowledge he could later use in his coaching career.
Zalesky also keeps the wrestlers focused on their goals.
“Wresting is a self-motivated sport,” Zalesky said. “I keep them focused on their All-American goals, both in sport and academically. I want each individual to strive to be a national champion.”
Paul Head, junior kinesiology major and CBU wrestler, said Zalesky puts an emphasis on each individual’s success in addition to the advancement of the team.
“Every wrestler has a different style and competition strategy,” Head said. “Coach Zalesky tailors his coaching style to best benefit each of us.”
The head coach also has a knack for keeping the team’s energy high.
“He has a way of firing up the team. He tells us stories about his own experiences,” Head said. “We are lucky to have him.”