Wrestling Coach Ed Winterstein has carried a torch of wrestling for 50 years now, and hopes for many more to come.
Born in Binghamton, New York, Winterstein attended Binghamton North High School, where he started wrestling in 1954 after his high school football coach recommended he wrestle to help with football skill.
After graduation, he went to Augusta Military Academy in Fort Defiance, Virginia.
“I went to a military school to because I was a dingbat,” said Winterstein. “Back then it was easier to just walk you through the academics. So I went to a military school to get my grades up. I got a second chance, which most people don’t. That’s way I’m kind of hard on these guys. I expect them to get their grades.”
At the military academy, Winterstein played both football and wrestled. A coach took him and several other cadets to local colleges, including Appalachian State, which offered him a wrestling scholarship. He wrestled there for four years and was team captain.
“Best thing about [Appalachian State] is that’s where I met the love of life: September 17, 1963 at 10:30 pm,” said Winterstein. “That’s when I met her.”
His wife has been named Mrs. Georgia Wrestling for her contributions to wrestling. She attends nearly all the Chamblee wrestling matches, working with hospitality.
After marrying his wife in 1966, Winterstein moved to Georgia in 1967 and began coaching wrestling. He coached for Chamblee for five years, Dunwoody for 12, and then Marist, where his three sons where attending, two of which wrestled. Both were two time state champions and have wrestling scholarships.
Winterstein was kids director for USA Wrestling for five years and worked on staff for team Georgia USA Wrestling. For over 20 years he has run wrestling camps during the summer.
In total, he has coached eight wrestling teams. With each team, he tries to teach the same message.
“Commitment, be on time, don’t quit, work hard, life is difficult, but you don’t quit. Period,” said Winterstein.
When his wrestlers have an off-night and get “trashed”, he likes to apply these words.
“There are one of two responses: one, they could quit and never go through that again or two, they could work so hard that it won’t happen again,” said Winterstein.
New to Winterstein is having girls on the team as a head coach.
“My job is to help make men out of boys until I got girls,” said Winterstein. “I don’t know what I’m doing with them. I’m not making men out of girls.”
Originally, he was not too pleased with these new additions, but for more protective reasons, than sexist ones.
“I don’t want girls on the team because guys hands go where maybe only a husband’s hands should go,” said Winterstein.
But the female team members held their ground and found a place on the team.
“Too bad,” said junior Hannah Jones. “Get over it. There’s nothing you can do to stop us,”
Jones has said this to Winterstein when he brings up having girls on the team.
Winterstein retired in 2002 from teaching high school social studies and college political science and since then, coaches wrestling and fishes in his free time. Whether or not he’s got another 50 years in him, is uncertain.
“The sun is setting on my career, yes,” said Winterstein. “But I’m not rolling over and dying. I still have a while to coach.”