Bill Kucinski, who took over the head wrestling coach position at Riverside-Brookfield High School this season, arrived for his team’s triangular meet against Gage Park and St. Joseph at the school on Wednesday afternoon only to be informed he wouldn’t be coaching the team any longer.

Just hours before the Bulldogs were to compete at their home meet, Kucinski said he was told by RB Athletic Director Art Ostrow that he was fired. He was then escorted by security officers to the coach’s locker room to retrieve his things. Ostrow did not immediately return a phone call or an e-mail by the Landmark seeking comment about the firing or a possible replacement.

Kucinski, who served as an assistant wrestling coach under fellow
Mt. Carmel graduate Jason Rech – now the head football coach at RB – last season, said he was let go for using foul language.

“I was shocked, because one would think a coach would be warned or written up or put on probation or even suspended a match first for such an infraction,” said Kucinski of his reaction to the firing. “Prior to that meeting, I had never been disciplined or talked to regarding my coaching style.”

Kucinski said the incident in question took place during a practice on Dec. 23, in which his team was being disciplined with push-ups for underperforming.

“I stopped practice, because I was not happy with the effort being put forth,” he said. “They were told to stay in a pushup position, then do 20 pushups, and I had set a goal and said not to touch the knees on the mat and that they were nearly done, when a wrestler got up and walked out.”

Kucinski admitted he used foul language when the wrestler quit, addressing his team with, “Anyone else wants to be a whiny bitch, can leave now.”

One other wrestler got up and left, cursing Kucinski, he said.

The two wrestlers re-joined the team shortly after the incident, and Kucinski said he and Ostrow came up with a disciplinary measure to punish them for quitting the team. The two would be suspended one nonconference match.

 “I’ve been around nothing but winning wrestling programs for the last 25 years,” said Kucinski. “I’m definitely guilty of pushing the kids in practice, of making them work harder probably than they ever have in their lives, but that’s what it takes if you want to build something successful and they need to understand that.

“Maybe I set the bar too high for these guys too early, but complete dedication is what I expected.”

Kucinski said the program’s policy for missing practice was lenient before he arrived. “I changed that this year. I wanted them to be held accountable for their actions. Some parents didn’t like it, others did.

“I’ve had tremendous support from most of the parents and the wrestlers since I was let go,” Kucinski added. “I put in a lot of time and effort trying to build a better program, running junior leagues and overseeing summer camps. It’s a shame it had to end this way.”

Former RB wrestling coach Neil Dughetti has stepped in to coach the team, according to sources.