West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

...On Bobby Douglas

(Author's note: On October 21, there was a trubute to Bobby Douglas, head wrestling coach at Iowa State University, celebrating his induction into the OVAC Hall of Fame. Yours truly was honored to be a principal speaker at the affair, along with Drs. Al Blatnik and Mike Kovalick. This is the first in a two-part series of my comments at the joyous celebration of Bobby Douglas' wrestling career).

Yes, it is a small world. In 1963, I was a 95-pound weakling and a sophomore in high school. I was an innocent little kid from Shamokin, Pennsylvania, a small anthracite coalmining town. But, fortunately, I had wrestling to assist me.

Speaking of innocence, I'm going to tell you when I lost my innocence. Peggy (my wife), forgive me, but I can't live with this secret any longer. I lost my innocence in 1980 when I . . . became a wrestling official. Just talk to any OVAC wrestling coach, they will agree. Since then, I have asked God for "forgiveness'' on many occasions. But I digress. . .

Back in 1963, I was a 95-pound weakling but I was a 95-pound weakling who made it to the finals of the Pennsylvania wrestling state championships. This finals match was tied near the end of the third period and we were in the neutral position. My oppenent and I somehow tripped over each other. I, luckily, fell on top of my oppenent wo win states. There IS a God!

My reward from Dad for this fantastic feat was a trip to the 1963 NCAA national championships at Kent State University. It was there that I witnessed a wrestler from a small West Virginia college (West Liberty) win All-American status. That wrestler was Bobby Douglas, the greatest wrestler in the OVAC's history. His coach was the one and only "Coach K'' - the late George Kovalick - the greatest wrestling coach in the OVAC's history.

After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 1970, I moved to Wheeling and accepted the head coaching position at old Wheeling High School. It was then that I was introduced to Bobby Douglas and Coach K. We have been friends ever since. I consider their friendship as another blessing in my life.

Mat Message

"You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.''
-Indira Gandhi

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Updated March 25, 1999