North Carroll's Bauerlein is taking his hunting to retired fields


February 23, 1994|By BILL FREE

Gone hunting.

That could very well be the sign posted on Dick Bauerlein's wrestling office door these days at North Carroll.

Bauerlein is walking away from the sport he loves after 31 years and he's doing it the way all coaches dream about.

He is going out in a blaze of glory, with his first state dual-match championship safely tucked away and a slightly unbelievable 235-21 dual-match record in 19 years at North Carroll.

"I'm tired, I need to get away from it. I need to spend more time with my family and I want to go hunting every chance I get," said Bauerlein.

"I'm 53, I love to hunt on the first day of deer season and I just don't know how many first days of deer seasons I have left in my life. When my wife [Vicki] was diagnosed with lupus two years ago, it brought me back to life. I was totally wrapped up in wrestling for 29 years."

Bauerlein seemed at peace as he talked about the future without wrestling.

"To me, Thanksgiving is about the greatest day of the year and now I won't have to worry about wrestling on that day," he said.

"I go hunting with my three daughters and other members of my family and then we all get together and eat. And now I can travel around with my wife. Her family lives in Cumberland and we'll be able to visit them more."

One of the major benefits of retiring from coaching will be an opportunity to expand his hunting grounds from Maryland and ** Pennsylvania to Virginia and West Virginia, said Bauerlein.

He said he is so sure of his decision to retire that he has told his wrestlers not to try to talk him out of it.

To avoid any emotional scenes when he announced his retirement to his team, Bauerlein spoke to them for just 30 seconds and then walked out of the wrestling room.

"It was tough to do it that way," he said. "I just told them I had reasons for retiring and that I've been blessed with a lot of great TC kids on my teams and I've always wanted to see some kids through until they graduate but the time has come for me to stop coaching.

"They were just finishing up their push-ups at the end of practice when I told them. I began by saying I'm sure they had heard the rumors that I was retiring."

Vicki Bauerlein, a physical education teacher at West Middle Schoolin Westminster, went out of her way yesterday to let it be known that she did not want her husband to retire.

"If I had my way, he'd still be coaching next season," she said. "I love the camaraderie with the parents and the wrestlers. I like to follow the sport and love the competition."

About her illness, Vicki said she has good and bad days and enjoys the support her husband gives her.

"But it's not my fault he's retiring," she said. "It's something he wants to do and I'm not going to interfere with his decision."

With just 10 days left in his wrestling coaching career as Bauerlein sends his team into the 1A-2A West Regional tournament this weekend at Boonsboro and the 1A-2A state tournament next weekend at Western Maryland College, the pressure is finally off him.

He even can joke now about taking 19 years to win his first state title at North Carroll, which pales in comparison to his daughter, Mindi, winning a state field hockey championship in her second season at Francis Scott Key.

"I had to come through and win the state title this season," said Bauerlein with a grin. "You guys put the pressure on me when you talked about Mindi winning in just her second season and me still waiting for my first in my 19th year."

Mindi Bauerlein Wagner has followed her father's coaching career all along and has been with her dad in his final weeks of coaching.

She was thrilled with his team's two big dual-match wins over Francis Scott Key this season and was ecstatic when the Panthers turned back Damascus, 34-19, Saturday to capture the state 1A-2A state dual-match championship at Westminster.

But Mindi is also happy her father is retiring.

"It's going to be great having him around more and seeing him do the things he loves more," she said. "I'm sure I'll be able to have him over for dinner a lot more now."

To get a reading on the magnitude of Bauerlein's accomplishments at North Carroll, one only has to look at how other coaches in the county and the state have become frustrated intheir attempts to beat his teams.

It is obvious to see a touch of jealousy creeping into the comments from some coaches of North Carroll opponents.

But Bauerlein didn't want to discuss any possible controversy.

"Hey, I've had a tremendous career and a lot of fun coaching," he said. "I want to leave it that way. I loved the practice sessions, watching the kids work hard to improve. I enjoyed going home and sitting down with my Pepsi and replaying the entire match and seeing what I might have done differently.

"Sure, I wanted to win more state championships [he had three second-place finishes and was among the top six teams the last 10 years] but we had some unbelievable things happen at state tournaments."

With the advent of the state dual-match championships this season, Bauerlein would be in a position to ring up a lot of titles in the future.

The sad part of Bauerlein's retirement is that it may be a long time before Carroll County and the state sees another coach like him come along.

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