By John Knebels
Special to The CS&T
If swallowing your anger and frustration for the good of the team is considered a worthwhile challenge, then give Kyle DiGiacobbe a high five.
In the first-round loss to Boyertown in the PIAA District 12 wrestling tournament, the La Salle senior was defeating his opponent at heavyweight when, after legally pushing him to the edge of the mat, the foe suddenly toppled over.
Inexplicably, the referee disqualified DiGiacobbe and awarded the event to Boyertown. Seething inside, DiGiacobbe’s only recourse was to accept the ridiculous ruling and walk away.
“If I said something or made a scene, it would have cost us even more points,” said DiGiacobbe, clearly disappointed to have lost only his fourth match of the season on a day in which little went right for the defending Catholic League champion Explorers. “It definitely wasn’t easy.”
Although his 6-foot, 225-pound frame appears nearly perfect for a light heavyweight wrestler, grappling isn’t even DiGiacobbe’s favorite or most successful sport.
During the fall, the parishioner of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Southampton played golf for La Salle, which this season captured its 12th Catholic League title in 14 years. After shooting a solid 76 as a junior, DiGiacobbe struggled this year with an 89.
Fortunately for him, the rest of his teammates picked up the slack as the Explorers won handily.
“He’s a throwback kind of a kid,” said La Salle golf coach Marty Jackson, a graduate of Cardinal Dougherty High School. “He helps his parents at home, and when he is here he gives everything he has. He’s a real credit to our school.”
Jackson admitted that, on occasion, he can’t help but snicker when he watches his protégé on the golf course.
“It’s sort of like watching Jackie Gleason on the golf course,” Jackson said with a grin. “But for such a big guy, he has a real nice touch around the green.”
A few days after the league meet, however, DiGiacobbe helped the Explorers win the PIAA District 12 golf championship when he shot a 77, which placed him third overall and only two shots off the leader.
“I was disappointed how I played in the league championship,” said DiGiacobbe. “I was fired up at Districts.”
Also a musician for La Salle’s band, DiGiacobbe said the best thing about golf has been forming a tight bond with his father.
“We’ll play against each other and the loser has to pay lunch,” said DiGiacobbe. “At this point I think we’re about even, but he knows how to get inside my head by saying stuff and that throws off my game. I try and stay calm but it isn’t always easy.”
Sort of like when you’re disqualified without a valid explanation.
But DiGiacobbe already knows all about that.
John Knebels can be reached at email@example.com.