Leo Bernabi was a charter member of the Wrestling Officials Association of Section V. In fact the very first meeting of the organization, then known as the Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association of Section V, was held at his home in Spencerport, NY in December 1956. Leo established and was the first coach of the Spencerport Rangers wrestling program. He guided them to a 41-11-1 in his seven year stint between 1949-1957. He went on to become the Superintendent of Schools in Spencerport and today an elementary school, in the district, bears his name. He continued as a outstanding official and administrator in both the high school and college ranks. His contributions in establishing a referee training and development program was instrumental in helping Section V officials to become some of the finest in NY State wrestling. Leo was the first Section V official to be elected President of the NY Sate Wrestling Officials Association. Under his leadership he transformed that organization from one that was lead by just a few to one of inclusivity. He laid the groundwork for its presidency to rotate with representatives from the various sections throughout the state. He is a member of the Section V and NY State Wrestling Halls of Fame. It is only fitting that Leo’s contributions be honored by naming this award after him.
The Leo Bernabi Award is presented to the wrestling official who has made exceptional contributions to the WOA of Section V, especially through officiating. The award is only awarded when an official has made such contributions to be recognized and therefore is not necessarily an annual award.
Bernabi Award Winners by Year