RAVENA Life is good from Justin Schipano's point of view.
The 2003 Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School graduate is now the varsity wrestling coach at his alma mater, and as such is taking control of one of the premier Colonial Council programs.
"It feels like I'm on top of the world," said Schipano, who replaces Henry Mormile Jr. "I've wrestled for that school since I was five years old. I bleed green and gold."
Schipano is no stranger to the wrestlers he's in charge of. He's worked with them since they were in Ravena's youth program.
"What's great is all these guys are my guys," said Schipano, who has spent the last seven years coaching the town's youth program and the high school's junior varsity squad.
The majority of Ravena's team is young this season following the graduation of several seniors, including heavyweight Alex Soutiere, who finished third at last season's New York State High School Wrestling Championships. Seniors Logan Kunkle, Mike Parker and Kyle Powell are leading the Indians in the early part of this season, and junior Fred Pechette is scheduled to return from injury Wednesday when the Indians meet Albany Academy.
To help the team along, Schipano is using his enthusiastic personality. He gives all of his wrestlers high fives and congratulates them after each bout, whether they win or lose.
"To know they have that enthusiasm behind them, that makes them want to fight more for you and to do the best they can," said Schipano. "As long as you keep their spirits up, the kids will fight for you."
That philosophy was put to the test when Ravena competed last weekend's Linda Stuart Memorial Duals at Colonie Central High School. The Indians struggled through both days against several larger programs such as Colonie, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Minisink Valley and Indian River. But, team wins were not important to Schipano.