West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on One Dedicated Coach’s Dream Come True

Donnie Bauer, a 1967 graduate of old Wheeling High School, is truly a wrestling coach for all youngsters. He loves the mat sport and has always done the right thing for all the right reasons.

Before I relate Coach Bauer’s story to you, I need to digress a bit. When I wrestled, I was always surrounded by men who were totally devoted to teaching the mat sport and guiding kids in the right direction. Furthermore, none of my coaches had sons on the teams for which I competed. They, too, were doing the right thing for all the right reasons.

Today, just the opposite is true more often than not. As a Pony League umpire and smallfry wrestling official, I can always point out the father-coaches; they are the ones losing perspective and making fools of themselves during the games and matches.

Ironically, after their off-spring have finished competing, these individuals are nowhere to be found. Such fleeting psuedo-coaches, unfortunately, are doing the right thing for all the WRONG reasons. You will not find Coach Bauer in their ranks.

Since Coach Donnie Bauer has no sons of his own, all the young matmen he has tutored over the last three decades are his boys. I have observed Donnie Bauers as a coach at practice and during the rigors of competition. Without exception, he epitomizes the best qualities any parent could ever ask from a mat mentor.

Donnie teaches the fundamentals” in the wrestling room and has always promoted good sportsmanship. Moreover, Coach Bauer is still as highly-motivated about teaching youngsters the art of wrestling as he was when he started nearly 30 years ago. In fact, Donnie Bauer has recently set new coaching goals for himself. Presently, Coach Bauer is in the midst of reinstating the mat program at Wheeling Central Catholic High School. Yes!

With Brann Altmeyer’s initiative and the firm backing of Central’s athletic board initiated, the Maroon Knights will soon be suiting a wrestling team after a 10-year absence from the mats. And they couldn’t have selected a better man than Donnie Bauer to revitalize the school’s wrestling program.

Central wrestling enthusiasts of yesteryear will remember the great teams and matmen of the past -- Val Gundling, the Doyle, Dolan, and Camilleti brothers, Dave Bierkorte, Bernie Shalvey, Wayne Lichwa, the Youngs and the Emmerths, John Witzberger, Fritz Braunlich, Jeff Wensyl, Allen Jones and many, many more.

Well, folks, expect some new faces and names to shine in the years to come under the astute stewardship of Coach Bauer. As a former Wheeling Central mat coach (1972-76), nobody could be more excited than yours truly. The talent for wrestling has always been walking the halls of the 14th and Eoff Streets school. Now it will again be tapped.

In closing, some of my fond memories as a wrestling coach and teacher were experienced at Central Catholic. I wish much more of the same for Coach Donnie Bauer and his young proteges, as they begin a new era of Wheeling Central’s rich history on the mats.

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