DuBois Area High School’s Class of 2014 voted Tom Sleigh as their most athletic peer.
While this is a pretty special accomplishment bringing home this achievement at one of the area’s larger schools, Sleigh has proven over the last several years that he is more than an athlete.
Sleigh is one of three collegiate athletes in his family. His older brother, Sean, is a dentist and a former collegiate baseball player for Pitt-Johnstown. His twin brother, Justin, is a former baseball player at Lock Haven University and is currently studying to become an eye doctor. Then, there is Tom who was a Division I wrestler at Bucknell and Virginia Tech.
Needless to say, the Sleigh house growing up was most likely similar to the Gronkowski and Watt households: three incredibly athletic and intelligent guys who have used their own path to find success. So, what made Tom pick wrestling over baseball?
“I remember there was a group of six or seven of us who used to wrestle in the basement. Of the group, only two of us stuck with wrestling the entire way through into high school. Wrestling on a mat in the basement with my dad and uncle teaching us fueled my love for the sport.”
Growing up, he started witnessing teammates reaching the college ranks, including Geno Morelli, a former wrestler at Penn State. Additionally, his former high school teammate Anthony Vizza was someone else who he credits for pushing him and inspiring him throughout his entire career. “When I started seeing teammates doing so well, it pushed me to work harder and want to compete at that level. It was seeing their success and former DuBois assistant wrestling coach Andy Rendosh who pushed me and believed in me that I could wrestle in college.”
In high school, Sleigh won 140 matches, including one season in which he had 43 wins, a DuBois program record. He was also a four-time state qualifier, a four-time D9 champion, a two-time regional champion, finished third in the state at 170 pounds in 2013, and finished third in the state at 195 pounds in 2014. Furthermore, he had an impressive prep wrestling career during high school as he won a FloWrestling national title in 2014 at 195 pounds after a fifth-place finish at the same event in 2013 at 170 pounds.
When it came time to choose a school, Sleigh had various offers but narrowed his final four to Penn State, Bucknell, Kent State, and Lock Haven. He was slated to visit Bucknell University first, and it was the only tour and visit he would need to take in order to find his home for the next four years.
At Bucknell, Sleigh obtained a degree in environmental studies while wrestling for the Bison for four years. While it is common for many in wrestling to redshirt as first years, Sleigh’s journey was a little bit different. Instead of a redshirt as a first-year, he was forced out of action as a senior due to injury. While the devastation at the time can be imagined, Sleigh was able to find his way to Virginia Tech to continue his career.
While wrestling for the Hokies, he also studied for and obtained a master’s in business administration. This move to use his last year of eligibility and pick up a master’s degree has proven to make all of the difference when it comes to his professional career.
In his four years at Bucknell, Sleigh went 89-36. His 89 wins rank 12th all-time in program history, and he also added three NCAA appearances, three Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) place finishes, and two EIWA All-Academic selections.
Wrestling for the Hokies, he picked up a fourth qualification to the NCAA’s and went 2-2 in the tournament. He also went 23-8 in his lone year wrestling in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and recorded his 100th career collegiate victory. In total, he finished his career with 112 career victories in his five total years as a college wrestler.
After his days competing, Sleigh admitted to taking plenty of time off for his body to recover. Today, he is still not directly involved in the sport. However, his return he hopes and believes will be soon. This time, his involvement will be as a coach. Though he is not training for wrestling, Sleigh has focused his attention on hopefully completing an ironman race for the first time. He is scheduled to take part in his first race on May 23rd in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Stepping away from wrestling also allowed him to publish his first novel titled The Unbreakable Foundation, a work detailing his wrestling career and how to overcome failure. “I never planned on writing a book, but I started a nightly journal that ended up becoming this book. My mission and reason for writing the piece because I wanted to help people and share ways how I failed and learned how to fix it.”
Looking back on his career, Sleigh mentioned so many names that played a role in his success in the sport. He was quick to mention his high school head coach Luke Bundy in addition to Andy Rendosh who pushed him to become a collegiate wrestler while in high school. Furthermore, he mentioned Virginia Military Institute (VMI) Head Wrestling Coach Jim Gibson as another key role model and mentor in the sport. Finally, he mentioned all of the staff members and coaches from both Bucknell and Virginia Tech who dedicated themselves to help him get better.
Sleigh combines his knowledge in environmental studies and his passion for business in his sales job at Mulcare Pipeline Solutions as a territory sales manager. He travels a great deal in his work which includes meeting clients in various states on the east coast. “I never thought I would work in sales,” the DuBois native explained. I used to be a really shy kid, and I picked sales and marketing because I wanted to push myself to talk to people. Presently, he lives in the Philadelphia area with his twin brother and spends a lot of his free time hunting and fishing.
Though Tom Sleigh was that shy kid from a small area, he has pushed himself in wrestling and in the classroom to become an author and a sales manager in a short amount of time. At just 25 years old, there is plenty more that he still can and will accomplish. Helping people is his new passion, and someday, he will be expanding that mission by helping the next generation of wrestlers.