An emotional Scott Legacy took a moment to compose himself.
The weight of Thursday's announcement that the Mount Anthony Union High School wrestling coach would call 2015-16 his last season leading the Patriots started to come to the surface.
"The communication from the alumni, some from as far back as the 1980s [to] the current, it's been nice," said a choked-up Legacy. "[The response] has been overwhelming, I'm thankful for it. It's been 31 years, I took it one year at a time, but the timing's right. We have a young coaching staff that [has] their kids coming up and things like that, I'm happy for them."
Legacy's wrestlers throughout the past three decades took to social media to sing the praises of the legendary wrestling coach. (Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity).
"We always knew this day would come. Just hoped it wouldn't. He changed the life of every wrestler that ever stepped foot in that [wrestling] room," said Jarod Lyons on Facebook.
"There is so much to say about Coach Legacy that it is hard to find a place to start. He is tough and has no problem letting wrestlers know what they need to do to become a great wrestler. He insists on commitment, hard work and a lot of practice and conditioning. What most people do not see is that it is not always about winning at wrestling but winning and being successful in life," said 2012 graduate Jimmy Zupko.
Eric Willard had two sons, Jett and Bailey, that were a part of Legacy's program.
"We moved here six years ago and we knew they would get what they needed from the program —helping teach them leadership and good sportsmanship," Willard said. "Now, one is going to college and the other joined the Army Reserves and coaches the MAU middle school team. If we had not moved here, I'm sure that my boys would not be where they are and where they're going without Scott's help. Many people don't know what he has done for so many kids in this town. He will be missed."
Corey Greene, a 2006 graduate who has the eighth most wins in team history with 198, said he knows Legacy will have success, no matter where he coaches.
"[He has the] ability to motivate and push your mind and body to do things you never knew you could, from first year kids to kids who have been wrestling their entire life. He knew what every wrestler's goals were and he did everything in his power to help you achieve those goals — whether it be winning 5 matches or winning states or New England's or a national title," Greene said.
"Days where you struggled to motivate yourself he was always there to motivate you and remind you of your goals. He filled a room in the basement of a small town high school with some of the most elite wrestlers in the Northeast. Thank you, Coach Legacy, for all the sacrifices you made in your life to give our small community something to be proud of."
Stephen Sauer has had three sons in the program, Darren Ruiz-Sauer, Zach Sauer and Tyson Sauer. The younger two are still at MAU.
"Too many words to say, Scott taught them so many things, not only on the mat, but in the real world as well — like loyalty, respect, leadership and more," Sauer said. "I'd love to see him be there until my youngest graduated, but [he] has to do what's best for him and his family. Best of luck in your new career. You will always have great respect and be missed from many young men and their families in the Southern Vermont community. Your Legacy will not be forgotten."
Legacy said he's humbled by all the praise.
"My phone's been blowing up, I don't have Facebook," Legacy said with a laugh. "I'm just glad the alumni feel that strong and the experience is good and they still have the urge to maybe want to be a part of it."