By John E. Sacco
Many have come and gone - some to greatness - over the past 50 years from the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament.
But two men - father and son - have been the staples, pillars to the great success the tournament has enjoyed.
Frank Vulcano Sr. founded - what was then known as the California University of Pa. Christmas Wrestling Tournament in 1967. His son, Frank Vulcano Jr. has worked to turn the tournament into one of the most widely anticipated, respected and hotly contested regular-season high school tournaments in the United States.
The Vulcanos' contribution to the sport of wrestling is immeasurable.
They were and are participants, coaches, referees, administrators, directors and ambassadors.
They are Hall of Famers.
The two Vulcanos were inducted into the California University of Pa. Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005 - the first ever father-son induction into the Cal U Athletic Hall of Fame.
Frank Vulcano Jr. was inducted into the Southwestern Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004. In a special ceremony at the 2003 PIAA State Wrestling Championships, he received the Pennsylvania Man of the Year Award from USA Wrestling for his contribution to the sport. In 2010, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame's Pennsylvania Chapter. He was also recognized by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Director's Association as Region IV Athletic Director of the Year in 2013.
Frank Vulcano Sr. has been inducted into seven Halls of Fame, which include Lock Haven University, Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, Washington County Sports, Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association, Southwestern Pennsylvania Wrestling, and the National Hall of Fame's Pennsylvania Chapter.
Frank Vulcano Jr. said to share so much of the success with his father has been special.
"Wrestling has been part of our lives forever," the younger Vulcano said. "It gives me satisfaction to continue some of the things my father started such as the Powerade Tournament. Even though I played football in college (at Cal U) my love for wrestling has always been there and always will be."
In taking the annual Christmas Tournament over from his father, Vulcano Jr. has built an event that is rivaled by just a few in this country.
Some of the greatest wrestlers in the world have participated in the Powerade Tournament and the younger Vulcano has been able to attract some of the best and high-powered scholastic wrestling programs in the country as well.
It all has been derived from his father's vision so many years ago.
Frank Vulcano Sr. arranged the first WPIAL wrestling all-star matches between different classifications as well as the Pennsylvania-Illinois all-star match in the early 1970's. His idea spurred others to form the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic, contested after the Pennsylvania state championships each year.
Vulcano Sr., who was coaching the California Vulcans at the time, said: "We didn't have scholarships back then and we had to do what we could to raise money."
He added: "I knew the interest was there and that people would come out to see these kind of matches. Obviously, I was right, considering how big these matches are now."
Vulcano Jr., who is currently the athletic director at Canon-McMillan, is the chairman of the WPIAL Wrestling Steering Committee. He and his father were outstanding wrestling officials in their careers.
But their most impressive and important contribution to the sport is the formation of this tournament and the continued growing of this outstanding event.
"The tournament is probably one of the oldest in the country," Vulcano Jr. said. "And we think it is one of the premier tournaments in the country. This is something I wanted to continue and maintain the rich tradition it has.
"It's an impressive list of state champions and NCAA champions who have participated in this tournament. Some have even gone beyond that and are on a world class level."
NOTE - John E. Sacco covered high school wrestling from 1985 to 1992 and from 1996 to 2005.