By Chris Agar (Whetstone Staff Writer)
Football always has been part of Mike Drass’ life.
Growing up the second oldest of seven children in Chester, Pa., Drass watched his grandfather referee games and his uncle play at the University of Maryland.
“It [football] was always just something in the family,” he says. “Football was something that I always enjoyed.”
So it should be no surprise that Drass, 49, ended up coaching the game of football. After joining the Wesley staff in 1989 as the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator, he became the head coach in 1993 and holds a 143-44-1 record. He was recently honored at Founder’s Day on Mar. 18 for his 20 years of service to the Wesley community.
Drass always envisioned himself as a coach since his playing days as an offensive lineman at Penncrest High School in Media, Pa. He credits Joe Moglia, his high school coach, for piquing his interest in the field.
“He was a guy who became a really big college coach and got hired on Wall Street and ended up becoming the CEO of Ameritrade,” Drass said. “He was a guy who always inspired me when I was in high school and I thought that that’s the guy I want to be.”
Drass has had a similar effect on some of his assistants.
Drass recruited Steve Azzanesi in 1994 to play quarterback for the Wolverines. Upon first meeting Drass, Azzanesi could tell that Wesley was the place for him.
“I felt really comfortable with him,” Azzanesi said. “My parents really liked him and he made a great first impression. I could tell that he was very positive and I felt like this was a place that could be home for me.”
After graduating from Wesley, Azzanesi left a position at WBOC to come back and work as an assistant under Drass.
“The biggest reason I came back to Wesley was because I knew what kind of person [Drass] is,” he said. “I know that he will bend over backwards for anybody that needs help.”
Drass’ players feel the same way.
“His record speaks for itself,” said junior tight end Sean McAndrew. “He’s a fiery guy and wants the best out of his players on and off the field.”
Junior running back Gene Knight agrees.
“He also wants to see all of us graduate,” he said.
The balance between academics and athletics plays a big part in Drass’ coaching role, he says.
“I talk to our kids about understanding that you have an academic life, a social life, and an athletic life,” he said. “They’re three separate things, but they’re intertwined. You have to respect each one. I work with our players to make sure they have a balance between all three worlds.”
When Drass first came to Wesley, he and Coach Knapp (who joined the staff with him in 1989) felt that the job would be a stepping stone to another job.
“We got the ball rolling as far as guys believing in the program and having winning seasons,” he said. “We were able to build some momentum for the program. When we won our first South Region title in 2005, it was special for us to see guys who graduated in 1992, 1995, 1996, or 2000 back with their wife and kids. You feel like there’s a sense of history when you’re a part of that. That’s something that was an important part of my life.”
Drass says his only goal is to be the best coach he could be and help his players succeed in life.
“I think [I’ve done a good job at that],” he said.
His duties as Wesley head coach take up a majority of his time, but Drass enjoys spending time with his family, his wife Laurie and 9-year-old daughter Molly Ann.
Drass is hoping to win his ninth conference in the fall. He doesn’t see himself doing anything else but coaching.
“As long as I’m still breathing (I’ll be a coach),” he said. “This is what I do.”