Hayden High School coach finds happiness in wrestling
January 3, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Ty Camilletti pulled over along the highway in Craig, and he wouldn't keep answering questions until he'd said his piece.
"If we're going to do this story on me," he said, pausing an interview about his first season as the head coach of the Hayden High School wrestling team, "I need to thank some people."
And he did.
He thanked his high school wrestling coaches, John Svoboda and assistant Ron Linsacum, his pee-wee coach Burson Koppenhafer and his longtime friend and former fellow assistant coach, Dallas Robinson.
He thanked former Hayden wrestling coach and current Athletic Director Ty Zabel.
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He thanked current Soroco wrestling assistant coach Travis Bruggink for showing him moves as he grew up — that's how Camilletti picked up the Fireman's Carry move — and Chad Jones, Ruddy Camilletti and Arlis Fredrickson, classmates with whom he sparred in the wrestling room.
"And my parents," he said. "I've got to thank my mom and dad for taking me to tournaments and pushing me and just doing the things good parents do. I don't know if I've ever thanked them.
"One thing I know now, as a coach, is what these parents have to do to support their kids. They really go all out. It's pretty incredible to see what they'll do to support their kids and our program."
That's one of the many things that have occurred to Camilletti throughout the decade, and that growth is what helped him land a job he never realized he wanted.
History of success
The Hayden wrestling program has been strong recently, but Camilletti still is from a different era.
When he graduated from Hayden High School in 1997, he did so as a two-time state champion. He won in Denver as a junior at 152 pounds and then again a year later at 160.
"I was pretty solid," he said, assessing his career. "I knew my moves. The coaches, they definitely taught us how to wrestle. When I got into high school, they brought a tenacity and aggressiveness to our wrestling."
Still, when he won his final match, he walked off the mat never figuring to return.
He turned down a chance to wrestle for Colorado Northwestern Community College in Rangely. Instead, he had planned on walking on to the Mesa State football team.
In the end, however, he didn't do that, either, and went from high school to the work force, continuing to live in Hayden.
"It was not one of my prouder moments, for sure," he said. "When I got out of school, I didn't make some of the best choices. College wasn't for me at the time."
Camilletti said he doesn't still live with that regret. He did for a few years, but it's a story he now relates to Hayden Tigers trying to make decisions of their own.
He takes great pride in the fact that a pair of seniors from last year's team now are wrestling at the next level.
He first got back in the sport when his high school coach, Svoboda, called some former Hayden wrestlers to see if they'd help for a few practices.
A practice became a season, and a season became two.
"I started showing up there, and Dallas was there at the same time," he said. "We just kept showing up every night, then realized it was something we liked doing, giving back to the community."
That started in 2002. The pair took control of the Hayden pee-wee wrestling program for a few years after that, and then Camilletti became the paid high-school assistant coach two years ago, working under Zabel.
When Zabel moved on, Camilletti was an obvious choice to take over the program.
"He's a Hayden wrestler," Zabel said. "He went through the program, was a two-time state champ and wants to give back. He's always been there as a volunteer and knows our style, the stuff we're teaching, so it was a real nice transition for him to move into that position."
It hasn't all been easy.
Camilletti, who works at a full-time construction job in Hayden, said he had no idea about the paperwork and formalities that were headed his way when he applied to be the head coach.
But the surprise, he said, is no more than when wrestling flew back into his life after he thought he left it on a mat in Denver.
"I'm just trying to teach my kids everything I've been taught," he said. "I like coaching. It's a lot of fun. The kids having success makes me as happy as can be. I already had my success, so it's not like I'm looking for my own glory. I'm coaching them to be champions and earn state medals and have that kind of success.
"I want to stick around for a while and help get this team to a state title. I want to stick around until we get that done because I know we can."