Slifka retires from coaching after long, successful career

CRESCO - After more than 30 years on the sidelines, Crestwood Boys’ Head Wrestling Coach Keith Slifka officially stepped away from the mat for the final time on Saturday, Feb. 18 following the Class 2A finals at 160 pounds at the State Tournament in Des Moines.
Slifka’s journey as a wrestling coach began during the 1990-91 season when he served as a student assistant coach at Westmar College. From 1991-93, he was an assistant coach at Sibley-Ocheyedan High School. 
From 1993-99, he served as head coach at West Lyon High School. After leaving West Lyon, he worked as the Crestwood assistant coach from 1999-2005. From 2005-2023, he served as the head coach for the Cadets.
In 30-plus years of coaching, Slifka compiled an impressive overall record of 348-167, which included a mark of 269-132 at Crestwood.
Slifka’s stellar accolades as coach are as follows:
• District Coach of the Year eight times
• 2A State Coach of the Year (2021)
• Coached Crestwood’s first four-time State Champion (Carter Fousek)
• 54 Tournament Championships
• 8 Sectional Team Championships
• 6 District Team Championships
• 18 Regional Appearances
• 3 State Dual Appearances (fourth in 2019, second in 2021, fifth in 2022)
• 54 Individual Conference Champions
• 50 Individual District Champions
• 95 State Qualifiers
• 47 State Place Finishers
• 14 State Finalists
• 8 State Champions
• 28 wrestlers with more than 100 career wins
• 2 Fourth place finishes at State for Crestwood (2015, 2021) 
Slifka’s decision to retire from coaching the wrestling team was not something that was spur-of-the-moment.
“I’ve coached 33 years and taught for 32 years,” Slifka noted. “In November 2022, I hit my retirement age. The school offered a retirement package to me. I felt that after many years of coaching several sports (including wrestling, football and track), it just felt right to retire.
“I lost both of my parents when they were in their 60s. I’ll be 56-years-old soon. Those were a couple factors that went into my decision. (A few months ago) my wife was diagnosed with some major health issues,” he noted.
While Slifka is leaving the sidelines as the coach, he doesn’t look at it as a full retirement.
“I’m really not retiring (overall); it’s more of a career change,” Slifka said. “I’m going back to work, but I’m not sure what I’ll do. I love teaching and coaching. There’s good and bad in every job. I’ve been in high school (as a student and then as a teacher and coach) for almost 40 years. As you age, you slow down with your energy. I just knew it was time (to retire as a coach). I’m going to enjoy life for a little bit.
“When you are coaching, you come to school at 6 a.m. and get home around 10 or 11 p.m. every night for six days a week during the season. Going to work (at a different job) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for 40 hours a week will seem like a vacation for me. I don’t know what I’ll do next (for work). I might do some substitute teaching or helping other coaches  down the road, but right now, I’m fine with not doing either one of those,” Slifka said.
He will stay busy this spring by serving as an assistant coach with the boys’ and girls’ track teams.
“I’ve coached football at various levels from junior high to varsity over the years,” Slifka said. “In addition to wrestling, I’ve also coached the track teams (for several years) and worked as an official for football and wrestling. I don’t know if I’ll continue to officiate for those sports.
“Another goal of mine is to be able to go out and enjoy the area I live in and the sports I’ve coached as a fan. I really haven’t done that except for when my son, Hunter, was wrestling in college (in the mid-2010s). I’ve always been the decision-maker as a coach, but now it’s time for someone else to do that,” he said.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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