West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

"A Legendary Master of the Mats"

by Bill Welker, Ed.D.

I have had the extreme privilege of knowing Coach Roy Michael for over thirty years as a fellow coach and match official.

Coaching against him, I observed Mannington and North Marion wrestling teams that were highly disciplined and, most definitely, very competitive. Coach Roy Michael always had the utmost respect of his colleagues. When Coach Michael spoke, everyone listened.

Having officiated many of his matches, I rarely heard Coach Michael complain about calls. In fact, Coach Michael spent most of "match time" correcting his wrestlers -- never allowing them to overlook mistakes or make excuses. When he did approach an official, more likely than not, he had a valid point to make.

Now let's take a walk down memory lane, highlighting Coach Roy Michael's life as an athlete, teacher and coach.

As a collegiate athlete, Roy Michael was the throwing quarterback on Fairmont State's 1969 NAIA National Championship Team. It isn't surprising that Roy Michael still holds numerous football records at his college alma mater.

Roy Michael began his teaching and coaching career at Mannington High School in the fall of 1971. He was hired as the head football coach, and that same year he instituted the school's first wrestling team. (I suspect Bill Kerr, Fairmont State's feisty and beloved wrestling coach, encouraged Roy Michael into undertaking this endeavor.)

The rest is West Virginia athletic history. To be quite candid, Roy Michael's amazing accomplishments in coaching football and wrestling are nonpareil throughout the Mountain State.

While at Mannington High School, Coach Michael won two West Virginia Class A State Championships in football (1976 & 1977), producing numerous all-state gridiron players.

His squads also faired extremely well on the mats, winning two West Virginia Class A/AA State Team Championships in 1978 and 1979, claiming four individual state champions and numerous all-state grapplers. Roy Michael was also named the West Virginia Class A/AA Wrestling Coach of the Year in 1979. Not bad for a guy who played basketball in high school.

When Mannington consolidated with three other schools to form North Marion, Coach Roy Michael was again at the reins of both the football and mat teams. On the field, his squads captured two West Virginia Class AAA State Championships (1980 & 1981) and one West Virginia Class AAA Runner-up trophy in 1982. Again, he molded numerous athletes into all-state performers.

It was no different on the mats. Coach Roy Michael's 1998 North Marion squad brought home the gold at the 51st Annual West Virginia Class AAA State Wrestling Championships, producing three state winners. Not only was Roy Michael named West Virginia Class AAA Wrestling Coach of the Year, but he also joined the elite ranks of only two other coaches who won team championships in both divisions -- Eric Carder of Warwood/Wheeling Park and Shady Spring's coaching legend Dix Manning.

Roy Michael is also a dedicated family man. He is married to his school-days sweetheart, Janis. They have three great children: Misty, Michael, and Jay. It's a little know fact that Coach Michael was not at matside when his son Jay won his second state championship. How could that be? Well, at the time, Coach Roy Michael was busy serving his country in Kuwait and Iraq during the Gulf War's Desert Storm.

Over his 33 years as a wrestling coach at Mannington and North Marion, Coach Roy Michael has won three state team champions, molded 23 wrestlers into state titleists, and produced countless all-state matmen and state qualifiers.

Roy Michael is truly the "coaches' coach," having developed the minds and bodies of his student-athletes for more than three decades. It is important to mention that he never neglected to stress the importance of scholarship in the classroom setting.

Dr. Vince Monseau, the illustrious mat mentor at West Liberty State College, was quoted as saying, "Roy Michael is one of the few coaches in West Virginia who prepares his wrestlers for college-level competition and academic studies." What a testimonial!

Coach Roy Michael will be deeply missed on matside for many years to come.

While a few wrestling fans may forget his name due to the passage of time, his students, athletes and colleagues never will. Isn't that what it's all about?

Coach Roy Michael will be retiring on May 30th. He will be leaving with great memories from the classroom, the field, and the mats. And we, who deeply love West Virginia wrestling, will always remember Coach Roy Michael as "A Legendary Master of the mats!"

(Special Recognition: This article was inspired by the love, respect, and research of a student and athlete of Coach Roy Michael -- Daran Hays. There could never be a better tribute to the professional life of an outstanding teacher and coach.)

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