“Craig has not just been a coach for me, but a mentor for all different aspects that I've been involved with. He helped me through the recruiting process, dieting and controlling my weight, transformed my wrestling abilities to where they are today, and I think the biggest impact that he's had on me is that I'm now really a student of the sport. He introduced me to wrestling at the world level, watching technique in order to get better; I think it has worked wonders…. The thing I like most about Craig from a coaching standpoint is that he helps you become the best wrestler that you can be. Often I see that people from the same club or same team wrestle the same way; sometimes this is to the disadvantage of a wrestler. Craig works with wrestlers individually, working on things that would work well for them. For example, something he sees done by Nick Simmons on the world level may not work for me, but he'll work on it with someone like Dan McDevitt, someone taller, lankier, and has the frame and athletic ability to hit those moves. It's solidified my style of wrestling and now it's just improving upon the little things that I still need to work on….What Craig is doing at Ascend really is incredible. The kids there are working hard every day and I know that many of these kids will give a lot of credit to Craig when they see improvements in their skills, myself included. I can't wait to see more Ascend guys on top of the podium in the near future.”
“Craig Vitagliano and I first crossed paths in 2010, 2 weeks prior to the Nassau County wrestling tournament. I found out about Craig from my teammate Dylan Palacio, who was also a county champ. Dylan told me that if I wanted to improve in wrestling I had to go to the “Guru.” I took advantage of his advice and came to Craig, at first asking him if he can help me with a “go to takedown.” With only 2 weeks to go before the county tournament, Craig looked at me and smiled like it was a joke but then he realized I had a lot of talent that he could work with. Training with him for those weeks not only did I win the counties but I also took 3rd in the state. I then knew that Craig was that guy who could push me to the next level. Every time Craig and I get together I learn something from him. He is honestly one of the best technicians I’ve ever been around. I haven’t met anyone else who cares for me and this sport as much as Craig. We have a lot of arguments and disagreements, but in the end he helps me through every struggle in my life, both on and off the mat. Not only is he a father figure to me but he’s my inspiration. I feel like if I continue to work hard with Craig I will achieve my dream of being a state champ and one day hopefully become just as successful as him.”
“Craig has made a huge impact on my life. He was the one that got me through this year with my whole cutting weight issue and encouraged me that I was good enough to compete with the top of the line kids in Nassau… Craig sat down with me in the beginning of the season during certifications and asked me what I wanted to get out of this year, and I told him I wanted a county title. In my mind I never thought I'd get there but I always kept an open mind. He told me that my shoulder injury would not be tolerated, either I deal with it and push through it or I'm wasting my time and should just quit. That really woke me up and I just toughed it out through out the season. We never really thought that I was going to go 112 until mid season when I sat down with Craig I told him I wanted to win. There were days that I would be in the Ascend Wrestling room from 6:30pm to 12:00am making weight; just me and Craig blasting the music, doing calisthenics…Craig honestly is one of those kind of people that would tell you straight if you were doing something wrong and would point you in the right direction. He would never teach you wrong or tell you something unless he knew you were capable of doing it. He told me that I was going to win counties. I took his word for it and it happened…The icing on the cake that really made me appreciate Craig was when I was awarded the Champion of Champions. I felt that this award was not for me though. I gave it to Craig; he deserved it more because the other champions that voted for me also wrestled for Ascend and Craig trained all of us and believed in all of us. So in the end the true Champion of Champions was Craig Vitagliano because if he never trained us, we would have never gotten to where we are now…That is what makes a true champion, the person behind the champion, the person who stuck through it with them to the end and never gave up on them, the true champion is the one who trains the champion. Craig is definitely a person in my book that I will always look up to and be thankful to forever …He also reached out to college coaches for me and is one of the reasons why I am wrestling for Drexel now. He put his neck out on the line and spoke very highly of me. Thank you Craig.”
“Craig has drastically improved my wrestling, because he focuses on every little aspect and detail of technique. Craig simply watches you wrestle and in seconds is able to fine tune your every move and put forth some of the moves he knows that he thinks will best suit you.”
“Craig is a great coach. The mood in his room makes it fun to wrestle year round and I looked forward to going to practice at every chance I got. Not once did I feel that I wanted to take time off from wrestling because it was just fun to go down, hang out and wrestle…..The technique that Craig shows is unmatched by any other coach that I have seen. Every single part of the move he is showing is put into specific detail; sometimes it would take him 15 minutes to go over a single move… Craig will travel far and wide to go and coach his wrestlers. He went to Fargo, Cornell, Super 32 tournament and qualifiers, Virginia Beach (NHSCA Nationals), Shenendehowa Duals, etc… If you look at the wrestlers that Craig has coached you can see that he has truly influenced every wrestler that goes to his club. The list of wrestlers he has influenced to great accomplishments is too long for me to even write down.”
"Since joining Ascend Wrestling Club and Craig Vitagliano after my sophomore year in high school everything started clicking. Before joining the club I was a pretty average wrestler with a ton of potential and no real technique. Along with my coaches at St John the Baptist I truly owe all my success to Coach Craig. He was able to take this potential and turn it into productivity. Without his desire and determination to make everyone in our room better none of us would be where we are today. He is open to and embraces everyone that walks through the door of Ascend. As long as they come with the right mind set and attitude to work hard he is ready to turn them into the best they can be. I have brought numerous teammates and friends down to the room and they all leave with the same type of expression, pure astonishment. After being with Craig for about a year and a half wrestling has become my life. I no longer dread practice but wait eagerly for it to start. He has combined hard work, fun, and success all into one. The results speak for themselves this past post and off season. I can only speak from my own past experience but if you want success Craig is the man to look to. Wrestling will always be a big part of my life and I owe a lot of it to Coach Craig."
“One of the best things about Craig is he will show you moves that best fits your style. He won't try to make you into a wrestler you’re not. If you like to throw he'll show you throws; if you like high crotches he'll show you as many set ups as you need to get it. He will drill the move into you until you can hit it perfect. All you need to do is show him you want to learn and he will do everything he possibly can for you. He is a very affable person and one of the best technicians I’ve ever met."
“This year I was a New York state champ and I wrestled for Craig's Ascend Wrestling Club. The first time I heard of Craig was in the summer of 2008 was when I saw him on Flowrestling. They had Craig do the predictions for the 2008 Olympics since he was one of the few people who knew everyone from the other countries as he has been studying all the international wrestling styles. They called him the Wrestling Guru.
One day I went to a wrestling club that I go to and Craig was there working out with the kids so I started wrestling with him. It was funny because after 2 minutes of wrestling with him Craig already had me picked apart and knew all my flaws and everything I was good at. So, I wanted more. I started taking privates with Craig with my partner Chris Brienza. The first time Craig gave me a lesson we went over high crotches to a finish. Craig was showing all different ways of doing the high crotch. I noticed that it was exactly how John Smith did his high crotch because I watch many of John's matches that Craig has posted on YouTube..." Read more.
“Craig Vitagliano and I first crossed paths in the summer of 2007. We both were working out at the New York Athletic Club. Me as an aspiring Division III national champion and he as coach looking to help whoever he could.
Every time Craig and I were together at the club I learned something from him. He is technically sound on the mat in all position and is able and willing to teach it to others. From his days as a college wrestler he learned, both physically and mentally, what it takes to be successful at that level and beyond.
The only regret that I have of our interactions is that I was not introduced to him earlier in my career. Still in the summer we trained together I learned enough from him to get me over the hump. I accomplished my goal in the sport and he is a key reason why.”
“Craig Vitagliano is one of the best clinicians I have ever seen. No matter what level wrestler you are, there are many little things that people do wrong, and these are the types of things that Craig catches that other coaches do not.
As a coach, Craig is willing to accommodate everyone for their individual needs. There were times when I needed a quick work-out or tune-up for a tournament, and Craig was the one I could call in a pinch.”
"I haven't met another person who shares as much passion for wrestling as Coach Vitagliano. He is the epitome of being a student of the sport and is consistently improving as a coach and a wrestler. He has an uncanny ability to break down the sport of wrestling for a variety of athletes at all skill levels. His emphasis on technique and video review is what separates him as a coach. He studies the top athletes across the world and is able to retain and teach what holds win at all levels to his athletes. Coach Vitagliano was crucial to my success as a collegiate athlete as well as my International successes."
"My name is Sahit Prizreni and I am a wrestler from Albania. I am a two time Olympian (2004 & 2008) and was third at the 2007 World Championships at 60 kg. I want to say a couple of things about one of my best friends, and also my best partner and coach together and he is Craig Vitagliano. I lived in New York for two and a half years from 2005 until 2007, and all that time I had been working out with him and believe me I consider myself lucky. The reason for that is that he was the guy who truly believed in me and he was the one who pushed me to move back to Albania and compete in the World Championships and Olympics and that’s what I did. I wrestled in the World Championships and took third and I went to the Olympics in Beijing.
Working out with Craig is so easy. I say that because when I first came to the New York Athletic Club he was the one who somehow understood me even though my English was so bad. What I’m saying is that he is so smart at understanding a wrestler in what they are trying to say or do in wrestling. He also has such an unbelievable memory -- all he needs in wrestling is just one look and he's able to take a mental picture and explain the way something works mentally and technically. Believe me, I have learned a lot from this guy, and a part of my medal belongs to him.
So if I could choose a partner or a coach now that I’m getting ready for the Worlds, I would choose Craig for both."
"Craig has been instrumental in helping me achieve my goals, throughout my HS wrestling career. He has worked relentlessly reviewing, critiquing, and correcting my technique. He breaks down your form to the basics and works step by step to develop and improve your personal style. He reviews your opponents and works with you to come up with a plan that will ensure victory. Craig has always been there for me at my most important matches, even if he is not allowed on the mat, he makes himself visible to coach you. After matches Craig reviews your tapes with you and points out what you did well and not so well. Craig is an excellent technician, coach and friend."
Craig has two things that separate him from other wrestling coaches: his in-depth knowledge of the sport and his natural ability to teach.
Craig is not only a wrestler, but a student of the sport. Always studying the best techniques from the best wrestlers, he has come to be known as the "Wrestling Guru" by the flowrestling community. This enables him to teach moves in accordance to the most minor (but extremely important) details.
As a Harvard graduate, Craig is intelligent and an unbelievably good teacher. Having not qualified for counties as a sophomore, my goal for my junior season was to simply qualify for the county tournament. I started training with Craig and made vast improvements. Unfortunately I faced an injury that took me out for most of the season. When I returned with less than a month left in the season, I knew if I wanted to qualify I had to train more with Craig. I did, and I ended up making it to the semifinals of the counties.
Craig trains all of his wrestlers on a personal level, and I can honestly say that I am closer to him than any other wrestling coach I have had. He is a great friend, a great coach, and a great mentor. If a wrestler wants to get to the next level, Ascend is the place to do it!