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Steve Wiser A Lycoming Warrior For 50 Football Seasons

When Steve Wiser set foot on the campus of Lycoming College in 1970 Richard Nixon was President of the United States, Milton Shapp was about to elected Governor of Pennsylvania, Richard J. Carey was Mayor of Williamsport, gasoline cost 36 cents per gallon, the U.S. was trying to extricate itself from the unpopular war in

When Steve Wiser set foot on the campus of Lycoming College in 1970 Richard Nixon was President of the United States, Milton Shapp was about to elected Governor of Pennsylvania, Richard J. Carey was Mayor of Williamsport, gasoline cost 36 cents per gallon, the U.S. was trying to extricate itself from the unpopular war in Vietnam and Bud Whitehill was the football coach at Lycoming College.

Wiser reviewed with “Webb Weekly” those 50 seasons at Lycoming that landed him a spot in the Lycoming College Sports Hall of Fame, as well as some of his background.

“My dad was a football coach and a football referee. We grew up around Penn State football and went to all of the home games. My uncle worked the gates at the Penn State. I had an older brother, and we played and competed with each other. I grew up in Port Matilda, and all we did as kids was play football and baseball. I was blessed to grow up in an area where sports was a way of life.

I played junior high and just loved the game. I was fortunate to start as a sophomore, and we won our conference championship. I also started my junior and senior year. My sophomore year, our coach was Al Wilson, who was an outstanding coach. He went on to coach at the college level, and ironically, I coached against him when he was the head coach at Delaware Valley! He offered me a job, but my place to stay was at Lycoming!

My senior year of high school, I was given some opportunities to play college football, and Lycoming was one of those opportunities. I originally decided on PSU for wrestling. I felt pressured to be a Lion and changed my mind in June of my graduating year. It was one of the best decisions I made when calling Coach Whitehall to accept the scholarship to play football and wrestle for Lycoming College. In those days, you got athletic money. I wanted to do both sports, and I wanted to be part of turning a program into a winning program. I was fortunate and blessed to start all four years in both sports. The turning point in my career was when Hall of Fame Coach Girardi became the head coach my junior year. He made football fun, and you wanted to run through a wall for him. You knew it was only a matter of time before Lycoming would become a winning program. My success was due to many teammates, family, and coaches.

Coach Girardi, I believe saw the love I had for the game and offered me a coaching job as linebacker coach. My degree was in social studies and education. My family wasn’t happy about going to Lycoming. Their dream was Penn State, my mom and uncles worked there, and my wrestling coach, the legendary fisherman Joe Humphreys and my dad went to PSU. Now I was turning down an offer to go home, teach, and coach. I wanted to complete my dream of helping turn Lycoming into a winning program as a Coach. The icing on my dream was when Coach Girardi helped me get my teaching job in the Williamsport School District. An interesting note is Coach Girardi coached against me in high school. He was the head coach at Jersey Shore. I will say we did beat the Bulldogs my sophomore year, but he did get us my junior year. My third year under Coach G, he entrusted me with becoming the defensive coordinator.”

Wiser speaks fondly and with great reverence for the man he considers his mentor and greatest influence, Coach Frank Girardi.

“Coach Girardi had a major impact on my coaching. The way he treated players and the care he had for all of his players. As a player and coach, you never wanted to let him down. He brought the best out of you. I learned so many lessons from him not only football but life. Coach G over the years has become a second father and best friend. His wife and family have treated me like part of the family! I must also mention Robb Curry, who I learned a lot about recruiting and sales! My wrestling coach Joe Humphreys, brother, and family influenced my being very competitive. Now Coach Clark is helping to change with the time.”

Coach Girardi returns the compliment as he praised Wiser.

“After Steve’s graduation in 1974, I hired him as our linebacker coach. It did not take long to promote Steve to defensive coordinator and later to assistant head coach, Girardi said. “Steve has had a major impact on the many student-athletes he has coached over the years. He has not only taught football skills; he has taught values. More importantly, he lives by those values. In our years together at Lycoming, Steve was a major part of the success of our program.”

Wiser looked back on the changes he has seen in coaching and some of the highlights and also made it a special point to single out his family and others who have made his successful coaching journey possible.

“I have seen a lot of changes over 50 years. The game early in my career was run and run the ball. In the 80s, passing started to become part of the game — not many formations in those early days. The 90s the run and shoot offensive — spread formations and putting the ball in the air. Today there is the Run Pass Offense and empty sets. No huddle offense. Rules I believe have changed to put more points on the board — rules to protect the players. Technology has had a major impact on the game, as well as preparation and recruiting. I have seen the 16 millimeter, 8 millimeter, DVD, and now Hudl. We would scout teams and exchanges films; now it is easier with Hudl. Scouting reports and tendencies have changed with technology. Players are different today because of many reasons. You need to be so much more than a coach on the field to be successful. The equipment, weight rooms, fields, scoreboards, and locker rooms have different looks. Coverage of the game, and the impact on social media. I can probably go on.

The game has changed with the rules, social media, year-round programs, recruiting, impacting on enrollment at small colleges, facilities, and full-time coaches.”

“I have great memories of the five decades: First Middle Atlantic Conference Championship, the win over Bloomsburg University, 1985 undefeated season, the win over Hofstra in 1990 and the trip to the national championship in Florida, the major upset of Rowan in 1997 that earned us a trip again to the National Championship in Salem, Virginia, the 2003 playoff run with a win over East Texas Baptist, the championships in 2008 and 2013, and the great ranked defenses that we had! The greatest memories were the relationships with the players and parents. Coach G’s induction into the National College Football Hall of Fame.”

“God has blessed me with some talents over the years and the ability to change and adjust to changing times. I have been blessed with some great players, loyal assistants, very supportive local community, college administration, Coach Girardi, and now Coach Clark has really been supportive of my efforts. My love for the game and players keep me coaching. The players and their success on and off the field motivate me to continue coaching. The big wins happen when the players graduate and get that job. When they have success on the field. The game is about the players. The game is about wins and losses. But the wins come in many ways on and off the field. The losses are more about learning than disappointment.

Wiser shared some of his coaching philosophy.

“I believe having great people surrounding you, wife and family, great players with character, values, talent, and willingness to learn and work hard, supportive administration, and support staff. I believe letting the players that I coach know I care about them as a person. Letting them know I will help them in any way I can. Making them feel that they are important and can be successful, it is important to believe in them and listen to them. I have learned so much from the players over the years. I am not afraid to listen and learn from them. I have, over the years, had them evaluate me as a coach and what we need to do to get better. They help with the recruiting process. I am not afraid to change and learn from anyone. Only one thing I believe is non-negotiable is how you treat players and people!

I still love coaching and being around young people. I have fun at practice. I enjoy working and learning from young coaches. My players have helped In so many ways, including technology. Wow, texting, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, I believe. I enjoy being around all of the college students that interact with on campus. Lycoming College has really become an international campus over the years, and I have enjoyed the friendliness of the campus. I am year to year now. I want to coach as long as I can be effective on and off the field. When I can no longer be effective or relate to young people, it will be time. Thanks to Coach Whitehill for getting me here, G for giving me a chance, Coach Clark, for trusting me to be on his staff, and the college for allowing me to do what I love. I tell young people, pick a profession that makes you pop out of bed every day. God blessed me with 32 years of teaching and 50 years at Lycoming. Any success that I have had is credited to my family, friends, students, players, assistants, college, support staff, and belief in God. I also want to be part of bringing championships to Lycoming and go out a winner!”

For his players past and present and all those he has ever been associated with, Steve Wiser will always be a winner.

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