Matt Shirk to Lead Mercersburg Wrestling Program

Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Matt Shirk P ’24

Matt Shirk P ’24, a Mercersburg native with an extensive wrestling background as a competitor and coach at the local, regional, and national levels, has been named Mercersburg Academy’s head wrestling coach.

Shirk served in the United States Marine Corps after wrestling for four years at James Buchanan High School in Mercersburg, where he was a PIAA Class AAA state qualifier and the District III Section 2 champion. He continued wrestling while in the Marines, competing nationally and internationally on the All-Marine Wrestling Team and winning All-Armed Forces championships in Greco-Roman and Freestyle disciplines. Shirk earned All-America honors in Greco-Roman at the National University and Senior Level Championships and was a member of the U-23 National World Team. 

Following his military service, Shirk wrestled for three years at the NCAA Division I level at Lock Haven University before completing his college career at Shippensburg University.

“Becoming head coach of a varsity wrestling program has always been a dream of mine, but this opportunity to coach at Mercersburg far exceeds what I had ever imagined,” Shirk says. “My sister [Katie Shirk McDonald ’92] attended Mercersburg, so I was exposed to the Academy at a young age.  As I got older, my coach at the time, Jim Houck [husband of longtime athletic trainer Marilyn Houck] brought me to practices where I was first introduced to [legendary Mercersburg wrestling coaches] Karl Reisner and later Rick Hendrickson. Spending time with these two iconic coaches—both of whom I consider mentors and helped mold me into the person I am today—introduced me to the unique culture that was Mercersburg Academy. I was immediately drawn in.”

The 44-year-old Shirk has continued to compete in the sport, and is the 2021 Masters National Champion in Divisions A-C in Freestyle and Greco-Roman. He qualified to represent Team USA at the 2021 Veteran/Masters World Championships; the event was held last month in Greece.

Since transitioning into coaching in 2005, Shirk has coached a vast range of K-12 wrestlers and teams at the local, regional, and national levels. He is a founding member of James Buchanan Youth Wrestling, where he has served as head youth wrestling coach since 2014. Shirk has also been an assistant coach for Team Pennsylvania, Team New Jersey, and Team Idaho at the national and international levels. In addition, Shirk was an assistant coach at James Buchanan (his high school alma mater), the Waynesboro Wrestling Club, and Tuscarora Youth Wrestling.  Shirk holds a Bronze Level coaching certificate from USA Wrestling.

As head coach of the Blue Storm, Shirk succeeds Nate Jacklin ’96, who departed Mercersburg after 13 years on the faculty to accept a teaching and coaching position at Warhill High School in Williamsburg, VA.

Shirk is a project executive with Fine Line Trim Corporation in Blue Ridge Summit, PA, and a senior project manager with Rockwell Construction in Mercersburg.  He and his wife, Jennifer, live in the borough of Mercersburg with their three children, Hayden ’24 (a 10th-grader at the Academy), Ethan (7th grade), and Owen (2nd grade).

The Blue Storm opens the 2021–2022 campaign Saturday, December 4, at the Saint James Holloway Tournament in Hagerstown, MD.