Chewin’ the Fat: Q & A With SV Wrestling’s Cathy Leibensperger

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SV wrestler Josh Jones and team manager Lauren Polak share a celebratory hug with long-time Panther superfan and scorekeeper Cathy Leibensperger.

Seven straight Colonial League titles and four consecutive District XI championships is far from a passing moment. Throw in a couple of state titles and 12 state champions, and you certainly have more of an extensive and established tradition. The success and depth of Saucon Valley wrestling’s fortune runs very deep. Obvious credit goes out to the coaches and athletes over the years who have forged the prolonged success with their blood, sweat and tears. But, there are other key pillars sitting mat-side and in the background whose contributions maintain and stabilize the rich tradition. One of those key stakeholders who is wholeheartedly connected to Panther wrestling is long-time scorekeeper, Cathy Leibensperger.

Panther wrestling tradition runs deep.

Cathy has invested a lifetime of her energy and efforts to the Saucon Valley wrestling family and she is showing no signs of slowing down! Saucon Source was able to catch up with Cathy and ask her a few questions about the special bond she has with Panther wrestling.

Check out our interview below!

“Cathy is an incredible person, that has devoted her life to Saucon Valley Wrestling. What makes Cathy more special is her support and loyalty to our kids. She loves them as they are one of her own. I know the wrestlers mean the world to her, but more importantly she means the world to Saucon Valley Wrestling.”

Saucon Valley head wrestling coach, Chad Shirk

Q: Tell us about your connection to Saucon Valley. Where did you grow up?

A: I grew up on Apple Street in Hellertown and graduated from Saucon Valley High School in 1975.

Q: Did you participate in any extracurricular activities while at Saucon?

A: I kept busy in high school: Chorus, German Club, Yearbook staff, Library staff, Debate Team, Future Teachers of America and Pep Club. I also participated in Intramural Volleyball and Water Polo. I kept stats for varsity baseball. I also coached the youth wrestling cheerleaders. I was President of the wrestling club in the ’80s and helped organize the team champions parade and banquet in 1976. I’m still active with community events and clubs.

Saucon Valley wrestling scorekeeper, Cathy Leibensperger, working from her office.

Q: How did you get your start keeping the wrestling scorebook?

A: I always wanted to do it while in school but some guys on the team had sisters so the opportunity went to them. I started at a dual meet in Catasauqua. There had been a snowstorm and there was only a handful of fans. Coach (Charlie) Bartolet needed someone to keep the books and I happened to be in the right place. Haven’t left the table since!

Q: What things do you like best about being the official scorekeeper?

A: I love the interaction with the wrestling community. Parents are so wonderful to share their kids with me during the season. And, I can’t say enough about how great the kids are with me. I’ve been lucky enough to make many forever-friends over the past years, even with some of the officials!

Q: What is the most difficult part of keeping the scorebook?

A: There is nothing hard about keeping the book itself, the hard part is sitting on the opponents’ side at away matches and listening to what is said about “my kid!” Worse yet, is when the season ends and I have to say goodbye until the season comes around again.

With almost 40 years on the book, Cathy has certainly earned the best seat in the “wrestling” house!

Q: What are your most memorable moments as scorekeeper?

A: On the mat it would have to be the privilege of watching every one of our state champions wrestle and scoring Saucon’s state final match. I was also the first and only woman to keep score during District XI Finals a few years ago.

Q: What is your first wrestling memory?

A: I started going to wrestling with my Mom, Grandmother and Aunt around 1970. I don’t recall my first memory but do remember the happiest memory was when Donald Rohn won States the first time. My saddest was when he got pinned there.

Q: Do you keep in touch with wrestlers from the past?

A: I do. I have gone to see them wrestle at their respective college matches. I talk to a lot of them on social media. My favorite matches are the alumni nights! Shout out to Ben Chunko for setting up the reunion get-together after the annual Alumni-Night meets!

For the past 39 years, Cathy (front left) has been surrounded and embraced by her wrestling family.

Q: Do you have any superstitions or good luck rituals for wrestling?

A: I have a few. I always have my nails done in red and black for the entire dual meet season and I find myself keeping my fingers crossed during most of the meet! At season end, I continue the tradition my Mom started of collecting the seniors’ pictures. And, the team picture goes on display in my house with any medals they have won.

Q: How much longer do you anticipate keeping the book?

A: I will stay as long as Mr. Frey and the current coaches will have me.

Q: If Chad Shirk, Donald and Tommy Rohn, and Andy Koch were to wrestle in their own little, in-house tournament, who would you pick to win?

A: This is a no-win question for me. I followed Donald’s wrestling and coaching careers to every school he went and have known him the longest. Andy has always been my favorite from the time he was starting out in the youth program. Tommy is my neighbor and has done a great deal to move our program to the next level. Chad has always been a wonderful friend to me and my family. When my Mom was sick he took time to visit her in the hospital and hospice and made sure the boys all made it to her funeral. That meant more to me than anything… This my way of saying “I plead the 5th!”

Cathy (Bowers) Leibensperger and Kurt Bowers present the 2018 “MOM-WOW” award to Angelo Mahaffey.

Q: You have been a staple within the Saucon Valley wrestling community for a very long time. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

A: As the wrestling community here knows, every year Curt (Bowers), Mary Sue (Ricker), Walter (Leibensperger) and I present the “WOW” award in memory of my Mom, Lorraine Bowers. My Mom taught me to always talk to the older fans because I would be one of them someday and I would want kids to come to me. How right she was. Hugs became her thing with the kids and I have tried to keep it alive. Also, I can’t thank the Saucon wrestling family for always sharing their kids with me. Having lost three babies, my relationships through wrestling have helped ease my pain. I love all of my wrestling families more than they will ever know.

Good luck Panthers, Cathy (and the Source) is with you!

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