Long­time area coach dies

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - Ursi­nus ath­let­ics

Long­time Ursi­nus Col­lege wrestling coach Bill Racich un­ex­pect­edly passed away Fri­day.

A leg­end in col­le­giate wrestling, Racich has been the Bears’ head coach since 1980. He ranks first in wins among all men’s sin­gle­sport coaches ever to serve at the col­lege, fourth on the NCAA’s all-time list for all di­vi­sions, and sec­ond among all ac­tive coaches.

Un­der Racich, Ursi­nus es­tab­lished it­self as the flag­ship pro­gram of the Cen­ten­nial Con­fer­ence. The Bears won 11 CC cham­pi­onships, in­clud­ing five in a row from 2003-07 to be­come the only school in league his­tory to ac­com­plish that feat.

Racich coached 56 Cen­ten­nial Con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons and over two hun­dred Mid­dle At­lantic and Cen­ten­nial Con­fer­ence place-win­ners, and has seen 17 All-Amer­i­cans and two CoSIDA Aca­demic Al­lAmer­i­cans go through his pro­gram. Five Ursi­nus wrestlers have won the pres­ti­gious Chris Clifford Award, while six oth­ers were named Out­stand­ing Wrestler at the CC cham­pi­onship meet.

A coach for the bet­ter part of four decades, Racich brought an in­cred­i­ble en­thu­si­asm for his role as a teacher and men­tor, and leaves be­hind a le­gion of stu­dent-ath­letes who were for­ever changed for the bet­ter by his pres­ence.

“Bill al­ways used to talk and joke about ‘liv­ing the dream’ and how great it was to coach kids,” said Ursi­nus Di­rec­tor of Ath­let­ics Laura Mo­liken. “He’d say, ‘they don’t re­ally change; you just have to ad­just how you teach the sport.’”

“Ev­ery time we spoke, he couldn’t help but gush and show pic­tures of his grand­daugh­ter wear­ing dresses and bows and won­der­ing if she might be a wrestler one day.”

Racich twice coached at the pres­ti­gious NWCA All-Star Clas­sic, with Al­lAmer­i­cans Chris Don­ald­son (125, 2013 at Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity) and Derek Arnold (149, 2015 at Ge­or­gia Tech Univer­sity) rep­re­sent­ing the Bears.

In 2001, Racich was in­ducted into the Ursi­nus Col­lege Hall of Fame for Ath­letes. Per­haps even more im­pres­sive is the aca­demic suc­cess his stu­dent-ath­letes have en­joyed through the years. Un­der Racich, 91 Ursi­nus wrestlers have been named NCAA Divi­sion III Scholar All-Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing nine in 2017. All se­nior let­ter win­ners Racich coached have grad­u­ated from Ursi­nus.

As a head coach, Racich was named Coach of the Year 13 times over his time in the Penn­syl­va­nia Ch­esMont League, Mid­dle At­lantic Con­fer­ence, Cen­ten­nial Con­fer­ence, and NCAA East Re­gional. Dur­ing Racich’s sto­ried ca­reer at Ursi­nus, the Bears never had a los­ing sea­son; his 1988-89 team set the cur­rent stan­dard of 21 dual-meet wins.

Un­der Racich’s di­rec­tion, Ursi­nus is the home of three highly pres­ti­gious wrestling tour­na­ments in the Fall Brawl, NorthSouth Du­als, and the Will Abele In­vi­ta­tional. Racich also di­rected the Cit­rus In­vi­ta­tional held in Fort Laud­erdale, Florida each De­cem­ber.

In­ter­na­tion­ally, Racich was the head coach of the 2013 Divi­sion III Cul­tural Ex­change team that vis­ited France, Bul­garia, and Turkey and won the Ge­orge Kalchev In­ter­na­tional Freestyle tour­na­ment held in Varna, Bul­garia.

Ursi­nus Col­lege was host to the USA-Rus­sia World Dual meet in 1997, which was tele­vised by ESPN2. Fol­low­ing that his­toric event, Racich re­ceived a Cer­tifi­cate of Spe­cial Con­gres­sional Recog­ni­tion for his out­stand­ing and in­valu­able ser­vice to the com­mu­nity from United States Con­gress­men Jim Fox. He is a USA Wrestling Bronze Cer­tifi­cate coach and in 1998 guided a Col­lege Ex­change Team to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic which com­peted in Greco-Ro­man and Freestyle against the Do­mini­cans and Cuba.

In 2003, Ursi­nus Col­lege was an In­ter­na­tional Train­ing site for the Freestyle World Cham­pi­onships. Teams train­ing at Ursi­nus in­cluded the Men’s and Women’s 2003 World Freestyle Cham­pi­ons, Ge­or­gia Repub­lic and Ja­pan. The French Men and Women’s Freestyle teams also trained at Ursi­nus. Sev­eral Ursi­nus Col­lege wrestlers have trav­elled to Bul­garia, Turkey and Siberia to train with the Divi­sion III Cul­tural Ex­change teams.

Racich was also a stand­out in his own right. At West Ch­ester Univer­sity, he was a four-year var­sity per­former and a team cap­tain in 1974-75. He was a four-time con­fer­ence fi­nal­ist and a two-time NCAA Divi­sion I qual­i­fier. In 1974 Racich won the 118-pound Mid­dle At­lantic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship, and his West Ch­ester team was MAC cham­pi­ons in 1971, 1972 and 1974.

In 1975, Racich was the East Coast Con­fer­ence Cham­pion at 126 pounds and cap­tained the team that de­feated Min­nesota, North­west­ern, Pur­due, Illi­nois, and In­di­ana on a Mid­west tour. In 1978 he placed fourth in the USA Na­tional Open Freestyle Cham­pi­onships at 136.5 pounds, help­ing his New York Ath­letic Club win United States Wrestling Fed­er­a­tion Cham­pi­onships.

In ad­di­tion to his wrestling ac­com­plish­ments, Racich was a high-level rugby player since com­pet­ing for Ply­mouthWhitemarsh High School in 1971, and a found­ing mem­ber of the West Ch­ester Univer­sity Rugby Club. Fol­low­ing col­lege he con­tin­ued his rugby ca­reer by play­ing for Turks Head RFC and then for na­tional power Philadel­phia-Whitemarsh Rugby Club. His PWRFC team won the East Penn Rugby Union mul­ti­ple times, cap­tured the Can-Am Cham­pi­onships and USA East Re­gion ti­tles, placed sec­ond in the 1989 Men’s USA Rugby Cham­pi­onships, and in 1999 won the USA Rugby 7’s Na­tional ti­tle. He served as a 12-term Pres­i­dent of the Philadel­phia Whitemarsh Rugby Club and played on two tours to Europe, the North Sea Tour (1992) and the Stock­holm In­ter­na­tional 10’s Cham­pi­onships (1996).

Racich is a mem­ber of the Con­shohocken Sports Hall of Fame (1986), West Ch­ester Wrestling Hall of Fame, Philadel­phia-W hitemarsh Rugby Hall of Fame (1999), Ply­mouth-Whitemarsh Dis­tin­guished Grad­u­ates Hall of Fame, Ursi­nus Col­lege Hall of Fame for Ath­letes (2001), South­east Penn­syl­va­nia Wrestling Hall of Fame (2003), Penn­syl­va­nia Wrestling Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion Hall of Fame (2003), and the Divi­sion III Na­tional Wrestling Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion Hall of Fame (2003).

Racich was the long­time Dis­trict Chair for Health and Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion (K-12) in the SpringFord Area School Dis­trict. He also served as the Mid­dle School Ath­let­ics Co­or­di­na­tor and coached cross coun­try and track in the dis­trict. His son, Cole, is a 2007 Ursi­nus Col­lege grad­u­ate and re­ceived his Doc­tor­ate of Phys­i­cal Ther­apy from Tem­ple Univer­sity in 2012.

The eighth of nine chil­dren, Racich is sur­vived by his wife, Ju­lia, and his son, Cole. An Ursi­nus alum, “Jules” is a fix­ture at ev­ery Ursi­nus match and is beloved as a team mother, friend to all coaches, and a ma­tri­arch of Ursi­nus wrestling.

BARRY TAGLIEBER - FOR DFM

Vet­eran Ursi­nus Col­lege head wrestling coach Bill Racich died last Fri­day.

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