West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker
National Wrestling Hall of Famer

December 7, 2008

"Success is measured by how many times you can get knocked down in life, and still keep moving forward." - Rocky Balboa

This will be my final year as a teacher. After 40 years in the k-12 classroom environment, I have decided it's time to pass my "educational baton" on to our next generation of young and enthusiastic teachers.

I am leaving the profession on top of my game and financially stable; I won't have to "substitute" after retiring. But my road as an educator wasn't without some very, very "lean and scary" years in the beginning. Allow me to explain.

My salary for the first year of my professional career in Pittsburgh was $7,200; the amount was phenomenal to me at the time. It was then that Peggy and I chose to move to West Virginia. It was like traveling to uncharted territory, but we were determined to make it on our own. Over the years, we fell in love with the Ohio Valley. Still, those first years were ones in which we struggled to make ends meet.

My first teaching assignment in Wheeling was at Edgington Lane Elementary School in 1970, where I taught fourth and five grade classes. My instructional mentor at the school was Lynn Holderman, the finest teacher I ever witnessed in the classroom. I mimicked her teaching practices throughout my professional tenure.

I also began coaching that same year as the head wrestling coach of old Wheeling High School. Boy, were those first wrestlers of mine a "motley crew," but I remember all of them with much fondness to this day.

Well, things were looking up and we were beginning to feel financially comfortable. Having lived in Warwood for two years, we were able to purchase a house on Wheeling Island in February of 1972. Peggy and I were now the proud owners of our own home.

Then the bottom dropped out.

That March, I was informed that due to a drop in student enrollment there would be a Reduction In (teaching) Force. I was R.I.F'd! In other words, out of a job. At the time, we had two young boys to nurture and very few acquaintances. Both Peggy's parents were deceased, and there was no way I was going to tell my parents I failed. That's how I felt at the time.

To make matters worse, the Island was flooded in June that same year. It was our first flood; Peggy and I were mortified as we witnessed boats floating down our street. We had the choice of sinking or swimming; Peggy and I chose to swim.

We dried ourselves off, and only looked forward. It was a struggle for a number of more years, but the struggle is truly the glory.

Today, Peggy is one of the finest dental assistants in the Ohio Valley with over 30 years of dedicated service to the profession. As for myself, I am finishing my teaching stint at Warwood School, where I have spent the last 33 years in the classroom, teaching children and then their children. It has been an honor to do so. Furthermore, the community of Warwood has been so good to the Welkers over the last four decades. God has blessed us.

He also blessed Peggy and Bill Welker with one other very important trait for facing life's hardships - perseverance. It's a word that, in some respects, has become a clique. But from my experiences on the mats and in life, if you want to succeed, PERSEVERE!


The top wrestler can indicate the neutral signal, raising both of his arms, anytime wrestling action has stopped. This means that he is willing to give his opponent an escape point, rather than trying to ride him. At this point, wrestling will continue in the neutral position.

Mini-Mat Quiz

Q: Wrestler A asks to take the optional offensive starting position after he and his opponent go out of bounds. The official informs him that since he can now give his opponent an escape rather than trying to ride him, the optional offensive starting position is no longer an option. Is the official correct?
A: Absolutely, not. A wrestler can still use the optional offensive starting position because some wrestlers use it to start their unique riding strategies.

OVAC Joe Thomas Wrestling Warrior

Coach Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestling Warrior of the Week is Wheeling Central's sophomore mat performer, Kyle Bauer. Kyle was an OVAC Runner-up and West Virginia Regional Champion and State Runner-up as a freshman with an over-all record of 40-3 at the 103-pound weight class.

Bauer's tournament victories last year included the Union Local Doan's Ford Invitational, the Shadyside Invitational, the Buckeye Local Tournament, the Marion Harding Classic, the Beallsville Invitational, and the Magnolia Tournament.

Kyle Bauer will be competing at the 112-pound weight class this year. He's a rising star in the Ohio Valley wrestling, who caught this writer's eye in middle school.

Congratulations are extended to Kyle Bauer -- this week's Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestling Warrior.

OVAC Mark Gerrity Wrestling Fan of the Week

This week's OVAC Mark Gerrity Wrestling Fan is Wheeling Central's TIM BISHOP. An accomplished golfer, his favorite weight class in wrestling is 103 pounds because it is often fast-paced and HIGH SCORING!

The Deaton-Regis Weekly Dual Meet Predictions

Larry Deaton and Jack Regis, two of the Valley's finest mat officials are competing with each other this season, picking the winners of selected weekly matches.

This week's dual meets featured matches are Buckeye Local at Harrison Central - 5:30 p.m. and River at Beallsville - 6:00 p.m. (Wednesday).

Deaton picks Buckeye Local over Harrison Central 33-26 and Beallsville over River 31-27.

Regis calls Harrison Central the victor over Buckeye Local 34-28 and River over Beallsville 27-25.

Book/DVD Notes:

The Wrestling Drill Book edited and authored by Bill Welker, with nearly 15,000 sold nationwide, and/or his DVD: Bill Welker's Pancake Takedown Series, would be a great Christmas gift for your favorite wrestler! To purchase an autographed copy of the Book, the cost is $25.00. The DVD is also $25.00. Shipping and handling is included for either of both items. A "SPECIAL" price of $40.00 is offered for the purchase of both. Make all checks payable and sent to:

Bill Welker
110 North Huron Street
Wheeling, West Virginia 26003

Don't forget to send your return address and any personal note you want me to write, as well. I will accept Book and DVD requests until December 22nd, so one or both items arrive in your hands before Christmas!

Mat Message
"We don't know who we are until we see what we can do."
-- Martha Grimes

(Dr. Bill Welker can be reached via e-mail at: mattalkwv@hotmail.com)

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