As if the events laid out for Homecoming weekend weren’t already exciting enough, John Carroll University added to the buzz this past Saturday by recognizing honorary guest Tony DeCarlo, the namesake of the University’s DeCarlo Varsity Center. This former all-star Blue Streak coach and athletic director returned to JCU before the big game against Marietta College on Oct. 6 and spent the afternoon talking with other alumni as well as current students.
DeCarlo, retired from his position as the athletic director in 2003, then held the title of director of athletic giving, according to the John Carroll University website. He is now retiring after 48 years of affiliation with JCU.
He said he felt the most memorable part of his JCU experience was the mere fact that he and his colleagues had managed to create a dynasty in terms of the number of successful sports. That is definitely something that will always stand out to him, he said. He felt that when he talked and offered suggestions on improving the program, people truly listened.
Furthermore, he considers his biggest personal accomplishment during his time at JCU leading the wrestling team, of which he was head coach for 23 years, to the national championship in 1975. Afterwards, the wrestling team was honored as one of the top five teams in the country for several years after winning the national title.
As a result of his success with the wrestling team, DeCarlo was offered a position in 1978 as the head coach of wrestling at the University of Michigan, a Big Ten school. However, despite the significant pay raise and prestige, he turned the position down. “When push came to shove, it just wasn’t for me,” he said.
He felt that it was not only important to stay close to his family, but also to avoid being branded as solely a wrestling coach, which would be the case if he had taken the job at Michigan. He feels that if he had accepted the offer, he would have never gotten the chance to coach football again, a sport that he is equally passionate about.
Looking forward, he hopes that the Blue Streaks athletic program will continue to grow and add new varsity sports. In fact, he is very pleased with the addition of men’s and women’s lacrosse to the varsity roster. “We can’t become stagnant,” he said. “We have to keep growing in magnitude.”
He also hopes that more emphasis will be placed on athletics to continue growing in skills. His main desire is that every team’s goal will be to achieve a national title, no matter how daunting a task that may seem to be.
As for DeCarlo’s advice to current JCU athletes, he emphasized staying on top of academics. Sports are obviously important, but with poor grades, athletic abilities don’t go very far, he said. On the same note, he emphasized that continuing to work hard is vital to one’s success in all aspects of life, not just athletics.
“If you can’t look in the mirror at the end of the day and know that you gave 100 percent that day, then something needs to change,” he said.