West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

2006 OVAC Mr. Mat Award Winner


The 2006 OVAC Mr. Mat award winner is Brooke High School's Nolan Van Gilder. Van Gilder started coaching wrestling as Ron Mauck's assistant in 1967, which was the beginning of four decades devoted to the sport of wrestling.

Coach Van Gilder's love of the mat sport was unprecedented. He was later the head wrestling coach at Brooke High School (1989-1997), where he produced five state champions, including Steve Camilletti and Brian Zimmeran (1989), Jeremy Lowe (1994) and two-time state champ Dewitt Stanley (1996 & 1997) and Danny Stanley in 1998. Van Gilder also had 14 state placewinners. During his coaching tenure, Van Gilder coached numerous top-ten teams at the state wrestling championships.

In reference to the prestigious OVAC Ron Mauck Wrestling Tournament, Coach Van Gilder mentored three champions - two-time OVAC champ Dewitt Stanley (1996 & 1997) and cousin Danny Stanley (1998). Van Gilder also produced 28 OVAC placewinners. Throughout the years, Coach Van Gilder wore many wrestling hats. Van Gilder was tournament director with Ron Mauck at the Brooke Classic since its inception, which he still serves in that capacity today. In fact, he devised a pool system for the event that allowed all the wrestlers in the competition to wrestle more matches during the two- day event. Since his involvement in the Classic, the tournament has been ranked as one of the top 25 wrestling tournaments in the nation.

Van Gilder also directed numerous West Virginia AAA Regional championships and OVAC Freshman and JV tournaments at the school. He has also been instrumental behind the scenes at the OVAC Wrestling Championships in his position as head scorekeeper for years. As the mechanical drawing instructor at Brooke, Van Gilder also created the various name and pass tags, forms and bout sheets at the OVAC tournament. He also designed the wrestling wall of fame in the Brooke High School wrestling room.

Coach Van Gilder is not only a master of the mat sport but also a master teacher and coach in various sports. His expertise in athletics also involved coaching tennis for 25 years, and Nolan served as assistant golf coach for 15 years at Brooke High School.

He is not only totally dedicated to developing students into competitive athletes, but also boys and girls into young men and women who will be successful in the adult world. A retired teacher with 32 years of experience, Van Gilder always enjoyed education because of his love for the students he taught from 1967 until 1999.

Nolan Van Gilder and his wife Shirley of nearly 39 years are the parents of two sons and three grandchildren. The Van Gilders' oldest son, Donald Nolan, is a practicing lawyer with a CPA in Cleveland, Ohio, where he also teaches at a local college. He and his wife Sherry have one son, Donald Nolan, II, who is 15 months. Their other son, Doug, is an aerospace engineer in California. He and his wife Jennifer have two children - Jillian, 4 and Dillon, 2.

The OVAC is very proud to present the 31st Annual Mr. Mat "Blue Coat" and plaque to Coach Nolan Van Gilder.

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Updated March 25, 1999