By Adolphus Ames
When former Northampton Yellow Jacket Casey Paglia won his second state wrestling title in 2012, it was a special moment. That year the state tournament featured three returning state champions and six returning state place winners.
“It was also the same year my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer and had brain surgery,” Paglia said. “Winning that tournament and hugging my mom in her wheelchair afterwards is one of my favorite wrestling memories.”
A couple of years later, Paglia stepped onto the wrestling mat at American University. Collegiate wrestling is more challenging than high school wrestling. The training regimen is more strenuous and the separation between great wrestlers and good wrestlers is slim.
“Everybody is tough in college,” Paglia said. “On any given day you can lose to a below .500 wrestler and on the same day beat a nationally ranked wrestler. You have to be on your ‘A’ game at all times.”
During his college wrestling career, Paglia placed in a few open tournaments and defeated a few nationally ranked wrestlers.
Paglia, the younger son of Michael and Karen Paglia of Willis Wharf, fell in love with wrestling at an early age.
He started wrestling for the Northampton Wrestling Club in fourth grade under coach Brian Harman. He had his first match the summer before his eighth grade year.
“One of my favorite things about wrestling is that it simulates life,” he said. “In real life, you can’t call a timeout when you get in a tough situation. You have to keep pushing through until you figure it out.
“On the wrestling mat there are no timeouts, no blame to be put on others, and you must fight to win. It’s just you versus another person.”
Paglia comes from an athletic family. His brother, Cody Paglia, also wrestled. Cody was a four-time state qualifier and placed fifth in the state wrestling tournament his senior year of high school.
When he attended Northampton, Casey Paglia became a four-time district champion, four-time regional champion, four-time state finalist, and three-time state champion. He also was a NHCSA High School All-American.
Paglia concluded his high school wrestling career with 165 wins and 17 losses. He was also selected as the Virginia Student Athlete of the year by the Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Those accomplishments didn’t come without challenges. Practices can be physically grueling and wrestlers have to manage their nutrition and weight off the mat.
“It requires a bit of discipline to become good,” said Paglia. “I didn’t win my first few matches. It took time for me to learn how to win.”
Even though Paglia has stopped competing, he continues to be involved in wrestling. Since returning to the Shore, he’s helped coach at Northampton and Nandua and worked with Broadwater’s lone wrestler, William Wehner. Paglia also recently launched the GOAT House Wrestling Club, where he teaches kids from ages five to 18 about the sport.
“I learned a lot during my high school and college wrestling career,” Paglia said. “And I’d like to take those lessons and share them with the kids I’m blessed to coach so they can have positive wrestling experiences.”