West Virginia Wrestling

Tenth Annual "Hall of Fame Day" Banquet

October 28, 2012
Embassy Suites, Charleston WV

Over 170 were in attendance for the Tenth Annual West Virginia Chapter, National Wrestling Hall of fame induction ceremony. This was the largest number in attendance to date. Several previously inducted members were in attendance, as well as many family, friends, and well-wishers of this year's inductees.

Opening remarks were offered by Wayne Bennett, WV Chapter Treasurer (WV-HOF '08), and the invocation was offered by his wife Diana. Once again, Bill Archer, WV Chapter President (WV-HOF '07) served as the Master of Ceremonies.

Dave Wadsworth was honored with the "Outstanding West Virginian" award. Born in Bowie Md, Mr. Wadsworth's career has included Collegiate Wrestling at Salisbury State in Maryland, invitations on two occasions for Olympic tryouts, one Freestyle National Championship, three Folkstyle National Championships, and 2nd and 3rd place finishes at the Folkstyle World Championships.

Moving to Martinsburg West Virginia in 1994, Wadsworth pursued WVSSAC certification and has traveled about the state as time and occasion have permitted, interacting with coaches and wrestlers in many schools across the Mountain State. He has worked with the youth and high school programs in Berkeley County. His interaction has included working out with the high-schoolers in the wrestling room, usually the heavy-weights ("back in the corner somewhere"), demonstrating "The Wadsworth Whip," (anybody have video on this??), providing encouragement and sharing his technical know-how. Known in area open tournaments as "that old guy," his last appearance on the mat as a competitor was as recently as three years ago (a victory).

Donnie Bauer , honored for "Lifetime Service to Wrestling," has been a standout supporter of wrestling in the Northern Panhandle for years. Bauer extended thanks to Dr Bill Welker (WV-HOF '08) and wife Peggy for their assistance in organizing the Wheeling area small fry system in 1974, noting that without youth programs it is difficult to be competitive at the High School level. He has labored in the youth, YMCA, club, middle school, and high school areas and has had a hand in producing a total of 25 West Virginia State Champions. Bauer noted that during his journey through the mat scene he has met a lot of good kids, noting that West Virginia wrestlers are as good as anybody.

Hurricane's Mike Ellis career in wresting began in 1961 while a sophomore at Hurricane High School. He noted that he was shocked when informed of his inclusion in this year's HOF class, but then noted that conversation with others previously honored discloses that his initial reaction was not the least atypical. Ellis' early focus was on being a teacher, and was hired at Hurricane High School to be a history teacher, indicating that he was somewhat surprised when asked to be the wrestling coach, as it was assumed that ALL coaches were phys-ed teachers. Ellis worked through the usual difficulties of being a coach in that era, the 4X8 foot mats covered with tarp, never enough resources for uniforms, warm-ups, etc. Ellis related one technique for securing funding for his wrestling program: Have students buy concessions from the band-boosters at football games, take concessions out to the crowd and re-sell them at a mark up, and pocket the difference for the wrestling program. Hmmmm.

Coach Jim LeMaster was noted by Coach Bill Archer to be one of the most successful Middle School coaches in West Virginia History. LeMaster was in good form this day, barely a month after having under gone heart surgery (I've retired, not expired). LeMaster noted that he never wrestled during his days as a competitor, and began his involvement in the mat wars as a scorekeeper. He had coached numerous other sports, but was drawn to wrestling because of the camaraderie exhibited by wrestlers, coaches, parents, and families -- not to mention that wrestling is the only sport to regularly feature hospitality rooms. LeMaster recounted several anecdotes illustrating the unique experiences at the Middle School level -- inquiries from mothers as to whether middle school wrestlers can launch moves from the top rope, if they can choose their own entrance music, and one lad who, given the challenge to decide on his first move for an upcoming difficult match, proudly reporting the next day that he planned to use a sprawl as his first move. LeMaster summed up by noting that the hallways of schools are full of kids who need a reason to care, and that coaching can be an opportunity to give these kids a chance - to give these kids a reason to care.

Marion County native Tom Lewis was honored for his service to the sport in general, and to Marion County and East Fairmont in particular. Anybody who has ever been in the gym with the East Fairmont wresting team in recent memory has seen Coach Lewis at the mat side. He was asked by EF Coach Bob Brookover to "help with the team" in 1970, and has been a stalwart for the sport ever since as coach, manager, getter of meals, organizer of events and trips, and builder of facilities - and has never been paid a cent for his services - all done at the volunteer level. Noting that, if given the chance, he would do it all over again, Coach Lewis exhorted that we should "all do your part to help the kids."

Former Milton Coach Bane McCracken indicated that he has had occasion to be the speaker at many events during his life, by virtue of his professional writings, book authorship, and member of several advisory bodies - but that this day was "something special." A state champ from Milton in 1962 (177), Coach McCracken returned to Milton as coach. McCracken recounted several anecdotes regarding his association with well known figures in the WV wresting scene, Shady Spring Dix Manning (who could recite McCracken's 1962 championship performance at their first meeting as coach/coach), years of tournaments at the Nitro Invite with the likes of Fred Schrom (WV-HOF '08) and Jack Perry (WV-HOF '07), experiences with the organization of youth programs (the initial sequence of moves to be mastered being shoot - sprawl - bridge), as well as more serious anecdotes involving communications from former wrestlers and their testimony regarding the impact of the sport and his influence on their life. (That must have been one heckuva a hill they had to run at Milton). McCracken summed up his philosophy as a coach by noting that it is important to learn that obstacles (and hills) which seem impossible to master, can, in fact be mastered with dedication and persistence.

Accepting a posthumous award for Parkersburg News Sports editor and writer Jim Snyder was Snyder's son Ross Snyder. Snyder is credited with providing some of the first significant newspaper coverage of the State Wrestling Tournament in West Virginia, and few would argue. Certainly wrestling is a BIG ticket item in the Parkersburg area, as it is in the Little Kanawha Conference, a beat regularly covered by Snyder during his career. Snyder noted that at the early tournaments in the 50's, there were more competitors in the arena than spectators. Snyder had a special interest in the mat sport, having concluded that the best football players were also wrestlers. His contemporaries were none other than Rod Oldham (Charter member of the HOF, '03), Buddy Jarrett, Bill VanHorn (HOF '09), Brad Kincaid, and others. Question: Who remembers the nickname "DI" which was sometimes associated with legendary Coach Rod Oldham? That designation was assigned to Coach Oldham by none other than Jim Snyder, being an abbreviation for "Drill Instructor."

2012 Hall of Fame inductees:

Seated, L to R: Ross Snyder (accepting for the late Jim Snyder), Donnie Bauer, Bane McCracken
Standing, L to R: Dave Wadsworth, Mike Ellis, Thomas Lewis, and Jim LeMaster

I appeared that about half of Marion County was on hand to honor East Fairmont's Thomas Lewis. Lewis is pictured here with some of his former wrestlers - Cole Valentine, Billy Ray, and Cody Palmer.

Just a few of the family and well-wishers on hand with Donnie Bauer. Wrestler Rich Brothers, Ronnie and daugher Tracie Thomas, wife Cheryl Bauer, Bryant and daughter Dana Kucera, daughter Kristie and Jim Komorowski, and long time friend Jim Brothers.

Inductee Jim LeMaster with Jim LeMaster the Senior, wife Pat, and son Mike.

Quite a large contingent on hand for Milton Coach Bane McCracken: Brother Greg and his wife Vickie; Brother Chris; Betty Burley, mother in law, and wife Joyce McCracken; The Coach, neice Kaci Francis, Tana McCracken, son Scott McCracken and wife Stephanie, Dave White and Brenda Francis.

Never too old to be proud parents. Inductee Mike Ellis with father Paul (age 95) and mother Ruth (age 93).

On hand to accept the award for the late James Snyder were son Ross and his wife Kim Snyder.

A few of the many in attendance honoring inductee Dave Wadsworth: R.B. Seem, Steve Seem, Tara Roberts, wife Joane, and Curtis and Julie Mummert.

Current HOF members were out in force to honor this year's inductees. At last word, they were all still at the banquet room sharing old war stories...

West Virginia State Chapter, National Wrestling Hall of Fame

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