Hampton athlete earned spot on top
With a couple of Allegheny County wrestling championships, some playoff appearances as part of the football team and countless other accomplishments as a student athlete at Hampton, it may be hard to remember a time when Noah Shulman was waiting his turn to participate.
But as it turns out, Shulman is the youngest of four boys, so the current star heavyweight and offensive lineman is used to having to work his way into the mix.
“Before I was older, (bigger) and more mature they tried to take advantage of that, but now we don't try to beat each other. It's like setting a standard,” Shulman said. “We feed off each others' accomplishments, which is a good thing, I think.”
Shulman said he and his brothers (one of whom is a doctor and another of whom is a wrestler at Pitt) are the best of friends, and they go to each other for advice knowing they have largely traveled similar paths.
Although the Shulman name is synonymous with football, wrestling and track, it once was one of hockey notoriety. But the travel schedule and cost of several children in such a time-consuming and expensive sport made the family rethink the avenue of sports they wanted to participate in.
“My parents introduced us to some of the sports the school offered,” Shulman said. “I got into the youth wrestling program in third or fourth grade.”
Shulman learned about wrestling and how to excel at it, but surrounding him on the depth chart was older brother Jordan, current teammate Jake Hart and former teammate Nick Yaroszewski.
“I started out at 171 as a freshman I was at .500 on the season, but I was not prepared … that year was tough,” Shulman said. “I gained 35 pounds by the time I came back as a sophomore at 215, but I got beat out by Jordan, who was a senior.”
Shulman started working out with teammates who were in and around his weight class to help them get better. Then Jordan hurt his ankle in a tournament, and that is when Shulman got a chance.
Noah Shulman wrestled well, and when his brother came back, Yaroszewski got hurt, and he filled in for him.
“Noah started for us as a freshman at 171,” wrestling coach Joe Bursick said. “His sophomore year, he jumped up a class and had to have a good guy sit the bench. Noah accepted that challenge and did well for us.”
Despite having to sit part of his sophomore season, Shulman is within reach of 100 wins. As of last week, he was 18 victories away.
His junior year he bumped up to heavyweight and won the first of two county tournaments, helped the Hampton team win its second county title and helped Hampton take the section as a team.
“We had a great team last year, and everything fell into place,” Shulman said. “I watched Jordan win the county tournament and never thought I would be in a position to win it. But I am never content. It has been fun, but I can't be satisfied.”
Shulman's philosophy keeps him hungry and always striving to be a little better. He tries to be better for himself, but the senior is concerned about his teammates, not just himself.
“The way I see it is when I was a freshman, I looked at the seniors as leaders — but I felt as if some of them were out for themselves and their accomplishments,” he said. “But I want to help the freshmen out; I want to be an example.
“(Football coach Jacque) DeMatteo told us that to build a tradition, we have to set an example of what has to be done.”
DeMatteo said there is much more to Shulman than the athletic side, which is what makes him great to have at school each day.
“He is able to juggle three sports, he is the class president and he is in honors music — he performed at Carnegie Mellon University during the season,” DeMatteo said. “All that, and he carries a 3.8. He is just a remarkable kid, the complete package and one of the nicest kids you could ever meet.”
DeMatteo said having a strong family behind him is where it all starts for Shulman.
“Every year we have a memorial event for my daughter (FairPlay), and the whole Shulman clan is there at 9:30 in the morning to set up, and then they come back and volunteer,” Bursick said.
Bursick said it was kind of funny for a kid who is known in part for dominating opponents on the mat or delivering crushing blocks to be heading up the face-painting booth at the event.
“It just shows how well-rounded he is,” Bursick said.
Shulman uses the lessons and skills he learns in one sport and translates them over to the others, another reason he has been so successful.
Doing so many things has opened the doors to many experiences for Shulman.
As a football player, he loved how all the work during the week led to a great game-day experience. He is proud to say he is a wrestler because it is not an easy sport and said track is just a nice way to wrap up a school year because of the nice weather and getting to throw things as far as he can.
“I liked the old-school grass fields, especially the mud games … I always remember coach (Joe) Bursick telling me, ‘Once you have wrestled, everything else comes easy,' ” Shulman said. “Wrestling teaches you how to work hard, and track lets me go out and throw and yell as loud as I can.”
As hard as he works during the season, there is much more to Shulman than just sports.
“I feel you need a break from the grind,” he said. “I like to joke around with my teammates, but if I can leave one thing behind with them it is to remind them that it is not the hours you put into something, it's what you put into those hours. Anyone can go stand around on a field or spend hours in the wrestling room.”
Shulman is still in the thick of things as a wrestler and is looking forward to his final season of high school track, but when he graduates, he has a new adventure to look forward to.
Shulman will attend the Penn State and study animal science. He has given a lot of thought to sports and said he is not 100 percent sure, but he may try to walk on to the football team at some point.
If the past is any indication of the future, Shulman will succeed no matter what life has in store for him.
Shulman always will remember the relationships he forged playing for three teams and his teammates are his family.
“I see it when my brothers come home, and they are out and bump into old teammates,” he said. “I really like that connection.”
DeMatteo said Shulman already has left a lasting mark on the football program, and it because of him and his fellow seniors, he made a move within the program.
“We wanted to move the freshmen up to varsity, and we were not sure how that would go,” DeMatteo said. “But, Noah (and the other seniors) really took the team under (their) wing and set an example to follow for years to come. The kids take those kinds of lessons from (them), and it is a blessing.”
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.