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Kenneth C. Gawronski

Head Coach

     A native of Liberty, Missouri, I attended Truman State University (TSU) from August 1994 through May 1999, where I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology, while also serving as a three-year starter for the TSU Wrestling program.  Immediately following graduation, I was commissioned in the United States Marine Corps and served 21 years as a Logistics Officer.  During that time, I deployed to multiple countries, served in a variety of staff and command billets, and completed a Masters in Military Studies. 

     I met my beautiful wife, the former Jennifer Diane Boone of Rolla, Missouri as a freshman at TSU.  We were married in 1999 and recently celebrated 21 years of marriage.  We have three phenomenal children: Isaac (16), Katelynn (13), and Grant (8) who all attend schools in Swansboro.  Isaac currently competes as a Pirate Wrestler and his younger brother as a member of the Swansboro youth program.     


     My coaching experience includes various assistant roles for more than a dozen youth, middle, and high school wrestling programs over the past two decades.  I love wrestling, because I believe there is no better sport for teaching young men and women about life.  I once read a quote that said, "life isn't a dance, it's a wrestling match."  I believe that because we only reach our true potential by learning how to deal with adversity and discomfort - things wrestling provides in spades.  I have always been passionate mentoring and developing youth and helping others reach their potential, and coaching wrestling has provided me a venue to do that through a sport I love.  With that in mind, I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to serve as Swansboro's Head Coach and I hope to do the same for the Pirate Wrestlers!   


Mike Yesunas

Head Assistant Coach

     I was raised in Wharton, New Jersey and wrestled for Morris Hills High School.  My success as a high school wrestler afforded me the opportunity to attend the U.S. Naval Academy where I competed from 1991 through 1995, while earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in English.  Following graduation, I was commissioned in the United States Navy where I served 25 years as a helicopter pilot.  During that time, I deployed to multiple countries, served in a variety of positions, and received Masters Degrees in Global Leadership and National Resource Strategy. 

     My wife and I met in high school and have been married for 25 years.  We have three incredible children.             

      My coaching experience includes serving as the Head Coach for the Naval Academy Prep School in 1995 as well various assistant and head coaching roles at both the youth and high school level over the past 25 years.  That included serving as the Head Coach for a youth program in Stuttgart, Germany where I mentored more than 100 youth ages 6 to 15.  I look forward to this new opportunity in Swansboro and am excited to prepare young men and women for their many successes on and off the mat.  


Steven Thompson

Volunteer Assistant & Strength & Conditioning Coach 

     I grew up and wrestled in Germany, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Virginia.  Following high school, I earned a BS in Criminal Justice from the University of Tennessee.  Upon graduation, I was commissioned in the United States Marine Corps, where I am currently in my 21st year, having served as both an Artillery Officer and Cobra Pilot.  I completed seven deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and held a diverse scope of leadership opportunities.    

     I am married to the former Mrs. Lana Thormahlen of Austin, Texas.  We have four incredible children:  Knox (10), Mace and Neal (8), and Tess (4) - all are active wrestlers! 

     I have 22 years experience coaching strength training and fitness.  I hold a CrossFit Level 1 certification and have collaborated with NCAA Division I, Marine Corps, and SOCOM Strength and Conditioning coaches and nutritionists/dieticians to develop comprehensive fitness plans for hybrid athletes. I am excited to work with the Swansboro Wrestling Team to not only strengthen their bodies for the season, but to also build strong habits that will ensure their long term physical and mental health.         


     I spent the past five years coaching at the youth level and am beyond excited for the opportunity to do the same with high school athletes.  My passion for the sport is rooted in the long term discipline, commitment, and personal accountability it instills in young men and women.  In the words of wrestling icon Dan Gable, "Once you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy."  


Mark Cowell

Volunteer Assistant Coach

     A native of eastern North Carolina, I was born in Jacksonville but grew up in Swansboro.  In fact, I was a member of the first ever Swansboro High School Wrestling Team, which came into existence my senior year.  I've worked for my family's business, Cowell Painting, since high school and currently serve as a  co-owner with my father, who started the company in 1990.     

     I met my wife Allison in high school and we've been married for 15 years.  We have two boys:  Tyler (14) and Jacob (8).  Tyler will compete for the Pirates this year as a Freshman.  Jacob has competed as a member of Swansboro's youth wrestling program for the past two years.               

      I have been assistant coaching at the youth level of wrestling for the past two years; however, I have two decades worth of coaching experience with soccer, having served as both a Head Coach and Assistant for clubs within Jacksonville and Swansboro.  As a plank member of Swansboro wrestling, with two sons who will compete as Pirates, I am excited for the opportunity to help grow the program and wrestling within eastern North Carolina in general.  While soccer was my main sport growing up, I wish I had been exposed to wrestling sooner, because I think there is no better sport for building mental toughness.    

SHS Wrestling Coaches

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