Armand Cacciatore

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Football and Wrestling Coach

While many coaches in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame perpetuated traditions of excellence at well-established institutions, several were trailblazers who put previously little-known schools and athletic programs on the map for the first time. One of the most successful “founding fathers” was Armand “Ace” Cacciatore.

In 1963, Cacciatore formed the first wrestling team at Niagara Wheatfield High, and in a few short years created a program that rose to regional prominence. Cacciatore’s teams compiled a record of 330 wins and 30 losses during his coaching stints, which ran from 1963-71 and 1979-93. His teams were class sectional champs a record 23 times, captured 17 Niagara Frontier League Championships, and three New York State championships. Coach Cacciatore’s grapplers produced winning streaks of 75 matches and 55 matches. In addition, “Ace” sent over 35 wrestlers to the New York State Finals in individual competitions.

Cacciatore is widely recognized as a legend in Western New York schoolboy wrestling circles. A former wrestling Coach of the Year, “Ace” was elected in 1999 to the New York State Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame.

A recitation of wrestling honors tells only half the Cacciatore story; for his coaching expertise was not limited to indoor sports. In 1970, he was named varsity football coach at Niagara Wheatfield; three years later, the Falcons had their first league championship. Cacciatore’s gridiron squads produced 158 wins in 26 years, and his record is highlighted by three Section VI Class Double A championships (two of them consecutive, in 1996 and 1997), seven divisional championships, two Connelly Cups, and five trips to Rich (Ralph Wilson) Stadium.

While football and wrestling are two very different sports, Cacciatore’s remarkable success in both is no coincidence, for it calls forth his approach to life.

Cacciatore became known not only as a superb tactician, but a molder of men. A strong believer that character matters, he instilled a strong sense of purpose and values in every athlete who ever played or wrestled for his teams. Coach Cacciatore often took an interest in the personal lives of struggling student athletes, and assisted many in obtaining college scholarships or otherwise achieving to their potential.

As Armand Cacciatore enriched the lives of those fortunate to earn berths on his sports teams, so too the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame is enriched in 2002 as “Ace” Cacciatore joined its membership.