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Oak Ridge wrestling coach steps down

Personal issues drive Cardinale to resign
By: Matt Long
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For 10 years, Rocco Cardinale has coached the Oak Ridge High varsity wrestling team, so it was with a heavy heart that he resigned his coaching position just before the school year began. Citing personal issues, Cardinale has decided to step down as the leader of the program, which he helped build to a perennial power in recent seasons. “I’ve got some things going on with my immediate family and thought it best for me to step aside,” Cardinale said. “I didn’t want to, but it’s the best thing for my family. It was a very difficult and very emotional decision. I’ve been involved in the sport of wrestling since I was 9 years old.” Cardinale, 50, spoke with the team on Tuesday, the second day of school. It wasn’t an easy task. “I really worked hard to prepare myself emotionally before I saw them,” Cardinale said. “I just told them that I’m still teaching here and I’ll still be around, but that I just won’t be the head coach.” Oak Ridge Athletic Director Steve White said Cardinale deserves a lot of credit for building the program to what it is today. “Rocco did a fabulous job of getting the wrestling program on the map on an annual basis,” White said. “He did a good job building the program and it’s unfortunate he’s stepping down.” Cardinale said he would miss the kids the most. “I’ve coached a lot of wonderful young men and that’s what I’m going to miss the most, watching them grown and improve,” he said. Oak Ridge junior Vinny Waldhauser will miss Cardinale. “He’s an excellent coach,” Waldhauser said. “He put his time in and he cares for the kids.” White said that he hopes to have a replacement for Cardinale by next week.