Dec. 5, 2005
Former Notre Dame wrestling coach Fred Pechek passed away on Dec. 2, 2005, in Oceanside, Calif., at the age of 65. Pechek – who also wrestled as an undergraduate at Notre Dame and later spent more than 25 years as a teacher and coach of several sports at MiraCosta Junior College – was admitted to Tri-City Medical Center on Nov. 30 and passed away two days later.
Pechek returned to his alma mater in the fall of 1973 and served two years as the Notre Dame varsity wrestling coach. He then headed to southern California to become a teacher and coach at MiraCosta, located just north of San Diego. Pechek was a defensive assistant football coach for eight years at MiraCosta, also serving as the school’s head wrestling coach for four years while spending 17 seasons as the head tennis coach. He was an assistant men’s basketball coach in the mid-1980s and continued to teach health and nutrition courses as the school began to drop sponsorship of its athletic programs. Pechek helped guide MiraCosta to the 1975 football state championship while his women’s tennis team was the Southern California champion and finished second in the state in 1980-81. He retired from the Oceanside school in May of 2002.
The eighth member of his family to be inducted into the Greater Pueblo Sports Association Hall of Fame, Pechek was a standout athlete at Pueblo (Colo.) Catholic High School before ultimately enrolling at Notre Dame in the fall of 1959. He spent two years as a member of the varsity wrestling team and received his bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame in 1963 – later returning to northern Indiana to complete a masters in educational administration from Notre Dame (’67) and a masters in physical education from Purdue (’69). He served as a graduate assistant wrestling coach at each school while pursuing his masters studies.
Pechek was a classmate of former Notre Dame football player Brian Boulac, who went on to serve as an assistant coach with the Irish and currently is a Notre Dame assistant athletic director. Pechek’s two Notre Dame teams combined for a 24-18-1 record while setting several team and individual records. His captains on the 1973-74 team were Rich Gilloon and Al Rockek while David Boyer and Fritz Bruenig were captains of the ’74-’75 Irish wrestling team.
As part of one of Pueblo’s premier sports-minded families, Pechek played football and ran track at Pueblo Catholic. His father Fred “Coogan” Pechek and six other relatives also have been inducted into the Greater Pueblo Sports Association Hall of Fame, with the others excelling primarily in baseball and boxing.
Prior to attending Notre Dame, Pechek spent one year at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa. He earned a letter on the St. Ambrose freshman football team and also ran track during that 1958-59 season.
Pechek is a member of the Pueblo (Colo.) Sports Hall of Fame and spent more than 25 years as a teacher and coach of various sports at MiraCosta Junior College (in Oceanside, Calif.), before retiring in 2002.
Pechek spent his first postgraduate year coaching football, basketball, wrestling and track at Vineland Junior High School back in his native Pueblo. He returned to Notre Dame in the fall of 1964 to pursue his masters degree while serving as a graduate assistant with the wrestling program. Pechek later was a teacher and wrestling coach at Catskill (N.Y.) High School in 1967-68 and then spent four years as the wrestling head coach and a football defensive backfield coach at West Liberty (W.Va.) State College. His West Liberty wrestling teams finished first or second in their conference all four years while producing 16 conference champions, two conference MVPs and a 1973 team that was 17th in the NAIA national rankings. He helped coach West Liberty football teams that were ranked in the NAIA top-10 for overall defense three straight years while twice reaching the national playoffs, with national poll rankings of No. 6 in 1970 and No. 5 in ’71.
A resident of Vista, Calif., Pechek was a longtime Notre Dame football fan and annually attended the NCAA Wrestling Championships. He was active in various volunteer programs, including the Moonlight Stage Productions, the America Cancer Society and the Rancho Bernardo Joslyn Senior Center
Fred Anthony Pechek is survived by his wife of 23 years Dottie; daughters Karen Pechek, Kelly Duty and J.J. Newman-James; three grandchildren; and sisters Marge (Bert) Pisciotta, Sandy (Allan) Juni and Jacque Geary.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his memory to:
Moonlight Angels Auxiliary
P.O, Box 3403
Vista, CA 92085
St. Judes Children’s Hospital
A gathering of family and friends will celebrate Pechek’s life at El Camino Country Club on Thursday, Dec. 8 (6:00-9:00 p.m. PST; located on 3202 Vista Way in Oceanside; 760-757-2100).