Before becoming a successful Division III assistant wrestling coach, Anthony Bonaventura was a two-year starter for the Waynesburg Yellow Jacket wrestling team. In that time he made the most of those two seasons.
As a junior, Bonaventura had a record of 28-14, was named the Outstanding Wrestler at the PAC Championship tournament, and qualified for the Division III National Championship tournament. In his senior season, he took another step up with a 39-5 record and once again qualified for nationals. Despite being unseeded going into the tournament, Bonaventura went all the way to the finals to become the national runner-up.
Following graduation, he took a role as a graduate assistant coaching role here at Waynesburg.
“I knew coaching was in my future early on,” Bonaventura said. “My parents were both coaches and I loved being around their teams. The original plan was to be a High School math teacher and wrestling coach, but I fell in love with college wrestling and decided to pursue college coaching.”
After a season as an assistant at Waynesburg, Bonaventura took a job as an assistant coach at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.
“I built a relationship with the Stevens Head Coach, Joe Favia, through a mutual friend,” Bonaventura said. “I was fortunate enough to receive a call from Coach Favia about his vacant assistant position and I knew this was going to be a great opportunity for me, so I took the offer to be a full-time college coach.”
When talking about the difference in the mentality between wrestling and coaching, Bonaventura believes there is none.
“The mentality doesn’t change, you want to be a rock for your wrestlers in the corner,” Bonaventura said. “Motivating them to give max effort, score points, and break their opponents. Sometimes I am very animated in the corner because I want to be out there, but I do my best to be a positive force in their corner.”
Bonaventura has coached at Stevens for five seasons, with Stevens winning its conference in each of them. In just his first season, 2015-16, Bonaventura was named East Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
Even growing up he always approached situations with a coaching mindset. “I took pride in being a student of the sport,” Bonaventura said. My brothers and I always pushed each other. The four of us were always looking out for each other and ready to give advice when we could. The majority of the time we took it well,” He concluded with a chuckle.
How in fact did he discover the sport that’s brought him so much enjoyment? His oldest brother Benny is the one who introduced him to wrestling. “He picked up the sport and fell in love with it, Bonaventura said. “He got me and my other two brothers involved in the youth program and the rest is history.”