Maskery teaches more than wrestling

Maskery teaches more than wrestling

by Staff Sgt. Mark A. Kauffman
Army & Air Force Exchange Service Headquarters, Pacific Region, Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Col. Scott P. Maskery, Army and Air Force Exchange Service Pacific Region Headquarters commander volunteered his time and his experience to coach Kadena High School student-athletes, the proper techniques and rules of competitive wrestling.

More than just wrestling, Maskery wanted to teach his team about discipline, commitment, hard work and respect.

“I truly believe sports and being part of a team helps educate and prepare them for life,” said Maskery. “It’s about teaching them discipline, the value of hard work and the importance of teamwork and being a good teammate; those are the traits and qualities I want them to learn.”

Last season, Maskery volunteered as an assistant coach but this year was offered the challenging positon of head coach by Kristopher Kwiatek, principal at KDHS, which Maskery graciously accepted.

“I was very thankful and appreciative,” said Maskery. “I never thought I would have this amazing opportunity [to be head coach] while serving as an active-duty Airman or at a school where my son, Paul, is a wrestler”.

As a husband, father and Commander of AAFES PAC Region, Maskery’s daily duties are quite robust even without the added responsibilities of being head coach. From mid-November to mid-February, he juggled his schedule to attend their practices and matches. He would come to the office early, work late at nights and work on weekends, so he could be physically present to lead his team.

“I’m extremely fortunate that I’m surrounded by very competent military and civilian Exchange personnel who through their outstanding abilities allowed me to be away from the office for a couple hours-a-day in the late-afternoon,” said Maskery. “I also have a very supportive wife, Jennifer, who picked up a lot of “home duties” during my busy days.”

Last year, KDHS had 15 wrestlers, 1 head coach and three volunteer coaches.

This year, the first thing Maskery did as head coach involved recruiting students and coaches to become members of the Panther’s wrestling team. Maskery’s team was compiled of 14 first year wrestlers and 9 returning wrestlers along with 7 experienced volunteer coaches with accomplished resumè including former Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Far East Champion and former Indiana State Champion.

Wrestling on Okinawa as a DoDEA student-athlete is much different from being on a wrestling team in the U.S. where every match, wrestlers are paired up with someone different. Here, there are two DoDEA high schools; KDHS and Kubasaki High School, which are about 10 miles apart and they wrestle each other every week.

“I think our season could have been better, but a big part of that is the lack of [different] competition on the island,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher B. Miller, Cable/Antenna Maintenance Supervisor and volunteer coach. “They need to face a plethora of different opponents.”

Throughout the 2019-2020 season, the KDHS wrestling team had their shares of highs and lows, ups and downs; all part of the growing pains of being a young wrestling team. Maskery and his seven volunteer assistant coaches invested more than 1,600 hours into their wrestlers in preparation for their finale, the DoDEA Far East Tournament at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

KDHS was well represented on the podium at the tournament as sophomore Kurt Chapman took 1st Place in the 125 pound division, freshman Aiden Russell, 108, took second place, sophomore Mizuki Sato-Marsh, 101, and the only female to place, took fourth, sophomore Crisean Covington, 135, took fifth place, while sophomore Joshua Dodge, 115, and junior Nick Neary, 168, took sixth place.

“[I am] extremely pleased with how he progressed throughout the season,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis N. Dodge, U.S. Army Garrison-Okinawa at Torii Station’s Senior Enlisted Leader and father of Josh. “In Col. Maskery's words, "He didn't know the difference between hitting a take-down from ordering a take-out" referring to Josh when he first started but now he has developed a passion for wrestling.”

“Mentoring the student wrestlers on life choices and goals, the importance of academics, and how to treat others with respect, was just as important as coaching wrestling to Coach Maskery,” said Dave Compton, a teacher at KDHS. “His zeal and love for the sport as well as the young men and women who participated this year was obvious from day one.”

As the 2020 wrestling season came to a close, the foundation for next year’s team has been planted.

“This has been a great season, both for wrestling and individual maturity,” said Maskery. “I can’t wait to see what the next season holds for the Kadena High School Panther wrestling team.”

Coach Scott Maskery, AAFES Pacific Region Headquarters’ Commander, gives a prep talk to Kadena Panthers wrestling team Feb. 5, before hitting the mat with their opponents Kubasaki Dragons.

Coach Scott Maskery, AAFES Pacific Region Headquarters’ Commander, gives a congratulatory handshake to Kevonte Speight after posting a victory Jan. 15 against the Kubasaki Dragons.

2019-2020 Kadena High School Wrestling Team (main photo)

Top Row: Coach Dave Compton, Ty’ Asiah Williams (manager) Halley Russell (141) Axel Shepherd (122) Joey Puterbaugh (168), Nick Neary (168) Caleb Wise (275), Nathaniel Hartman (275), Elle Campion (manager), Coach Joey Wood

Second Row: Coach Simon Reilly, Coach Christopher Miller, Kevonte Speight (129), Kurt Chapman, Garron Lee (135/141), Gabe Barrientos (135), Liam Amiot (141) Paul Maskery (148), Larry Carver (148), Oluwabukunmi “Jojo” Adesuyi (158), Head Coach Scott Maskery

First Row: Mizuki Sato-Marsh (101), Thomas Frye (101), Mirai Sato-Marsh (108), Aiden Russell (108), Joshua Dodge (115), Dominic Farris (122), Nathan Rowberry (122), Jorge Mendez (122), Donovan Navarro (129)

Not in Photo: Coach Dean Paolella, Coach Breeaughn Hernandez, Crisean Covington (135)

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