Stanley's latest, and perhaps last, return to the sport began last season. Wood was having somewhat of a rebirth after struggling with numbers for a couple of years, and interim coach Steve Peters and his staff needed help.
Assistant coach Chris Meister, who had wrestled at Wood under Stanley in the 1990s, asked his old coach to look at tapes of Vikings wrestlers in action. Stanley obliged.
Meister, now Stanley's top assistant, admitted to having an ulterior motive: getting Stanley to take over the team this season.
"Without Vic," Meister said, "we're not going to be able to get this thing going in the right direction as fast as we could without him.
"We've got a guy that is going to teach us the ropes over the next several years and is going to point our program into hopefully the category of Blair Academy [N.J.]. . . . We want to get to that level of competition and be a state powerhouse."
If that's the goal, it's hard to find a more suitable leader than Stanley.
The 72-year-old coach, who lives in Buckingham, nine miles from Wood, is 482-169-5 in 41-plus seasons since he took over the Council Rock program in 1967. He stepped down as Rock coach in 1992, six years before he retired from teaching science at the school. He then coached Wood (1994-97), Neshaminy (1997-2000), Pen Argyl (2001-04), and La Salle (2004-11).
Stanley has guided one team (Council Rock, 1977) and five individuals to state championships. He has been inducted into both the state and national wrestling Halls of Fame.
Except for the Pen Argyl gig, and its 104-mile round trip that "was just killing me," Stanley says he has left coaching jobs for health reasons. He burns himself out, he says, and his blood pressure rises.
When the blood pressure is controlled, he has come back. Now, he says, his pressure is so good that doctors have taken him off one of his two medications and halved the dosage of the other.
"I love coaching. I love being around the kids," Stanley said. "It's great when you see success, and you're always going to see success if you work hard and you surround yourself with good people."
Stanley has seven assistants, and six once wrestled for him. Meister, who is more like a co-coach than top assistant, calls it coaching by committee. He calls Stanley the chief executive officer, and himself the president.
The CEO even lets two of his assistants sit in the corner during some matches, while he watches from nearby.
Stanley walks with a pronounced limp, which is enhanced by a nerve disorder, peripheral neuropathy, that has affected him for decades. The neuropathy causes numbness and pain in his lower legs.
He can lie on the couch and watch TV in pain, he adds, or he can coach. He chooses to coach.
His goals are lofty. Stanley wants the Vikings (1-4 this season) to be the state power in wrestling that Wood has become in football. He wants to revive alumni interest, which waned over the last decade, in the program. He wants photos of Wood's mat alums to line the walls of the stairwell that leads up to the wrestling room.
"I have a five-year plan, but I will stay longer than five years," Stanley said. "I'll stay until - this is kind of morbid, but my idea of a perfect death is right after a big win. Yay, boom."
"It'll be happening on a gym floor somewhere when he goes," Meister predicted. "And he'll have a big smile on his face."
Contact Lou Rabito at 215-854-2916