Tri-State Sports & News Service Tom Bebout is a huge fan of the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic." I attended my first Wrestling Classic when I was in college,” said Bebout, a native of Peters Township. “Jim Palmer invited my wife and I, and I jumped at the opportunity.
“I’ve been attending almost every year since then. I’m a big supporter of The Classic. A match that features the best wrestlers in the country is a great way to end the season.”
Bebout is also familiar with the individuals who have been chosen as the Community Service Award winners.
“I know Frank Sneadker, Homer Marshall, Abby Rush and the previous award recipients,” Bebout said. “They have all done so much for wrestling in their communities.”
Bebout was surprised, to say the least, when he received the news that he would be the 2010 recipient of the Community Service Award.
“When I saw a letter in the mail from The Wrestling Classic, I thought the committee wanted me to place an ad in the program,” Bebout said. “I was dumbfounded when I read that I had been selected as the Wrestling Classic’s Community Service Award winner. I just couldn’t believe it.
“I’m humbled to be considered equals with the past winners. I’m humbled to be mentioned in their company. It’s a great honor.” Bebout graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture in 1975.
“I wasn’t a very good wrestler in high school,” said Bebout, who wrestled all four years in high school. “Most of my opponents had the advantage of youth wrestling. Peters Township didn’t have a youth program when I wrestled.”
In college, the only wrestling Bebout did was during intramurals. In 1976, Bebout decided to get into coaching, but not at the high school level.
“I wanted to work with the elementary age kids,” Bebout said. “They key to building a successful wrestling program is to have a good feeder system.”
Palmer was running the Peters Township Recreation Program, when Bebout inquired about a coaching position.
“I saw an ad in The Advertiser and called Jim,” Bebout said. “I started working with elementary age kids that year, then became the head coach the following year. We started with 30 kids. Fortunately, we’ve had a lot of parents with a wrestling background who have helped over the years.”
Bebout became the coordinator of Peters Township’s Recreation Program in 1982 and held that position until 1993.
“My son Scott moved to the junior high that year, so I turned the youth program over to some younger guys and followed my son’s career.”
Though not as involved as he was before, Bebout still volunteers time to the youth program.
“I try to attend practice once or twice a week,” Bebout said. “I’ve been a part of the youth program for 34 years.”
Former Peters Township coach Dale Murdoch credits much of the Indians success during his tenure to Bebout’s youth program.
“The success Peters Township enjoyed in the 80’s was due to Tom efforts at the youth level,” Murdock said. “He’s a difference maker. Every building needs a foundation, and Tom provided a foundation for our program.”
“I love the sport of wrestling and did it to help the kids,” Bebout said.
Bebout coached six Peters Township wrestlers who were eventually chosen as participants in the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic - Scott Palmer (1980), Bill Lewis (1986), Glenn Teeter (1987), Devon Broglie (1992), Mike Kail (1993), and Drew Spencer (1993). Spencer was a PIAA champion, while Lewis and Kail were PIAA silver medallists.
Bebout owns and operates Bebout Farms and Greenhouse in Venetia. He married his wife Corrine in 1975. They have two children (Scott and Jennifer) and two grandsons (Caleb and Teague). The award was created to memorialize Dr. Kurt Nellis for his passion for community service and love of amateur wrestling and the Wrestling Classic.
The award recognizes one individual each year who has served their community through the sport of amateur wrestling from Western Pennsylvania.
Nellis’ widow Diane will make the presentation to Bebout, along with the Honorable Robert Cindrich, Chief Legal Council at UPMC Health Plan. Cindrich, a former wrestler from Avella High School, shares in the importance of recognizing those individuals who had a measurable, positive and lasting impact on the youth in their community.
“I still find it hard to believe,” Bebout said. “It’s a great honor.”