Olympus wrestling starts first inductions into new Hall of Fame
Oct 03, 2017 10:03AM
● By Jana Klopsch
Coach Bob Kawa was an extremely influential person in Olympus wrestling, and will be one of the four first inductees into the Olympus Wrestling Hall of Fame. (Devin Ashcroft/Holladay)
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When head coach Devin Ashcroft initially thought of the idea to instill an Olympus Wrestling Hall of Fame, it was more out of curiosity than anything.
“Every spring we have a banquet after the season. We have this little stats booklet that dates all the way back to 1954, and I use it because I can give guys tangible goals to reach. I was going through the booklet this year, and I was struck by the history of our wrestling program,” Ashcroft said.
They had an extensive history of state placers and state champions in the late 50s, early 60s and the early 2000s. Ashcroft really wanted to create something to honor the storied history of this program. “I thought, how can we take this history and make our wrestlers more aware of it?” Ashcroft said.
“So, I met with some parents to discuss the fundraising and logistics of an event, maybe a night where we honor our alumni? We discussed what sort of event would bring them back, and then we thought of it a HOF (Hall of Fame) banquet,” Ashcroft said.
From that moment on, Ashcroft started organizing everything like logistics, contacting alumni and helping form a committee that would decide the inductees. “I have a form where the alumni can sign up to join the HOF committee. We want people who were genuine influences on the program and the wrestlers, and I think we have a lot to choose from,” Ashcroft said.
This inaugural year of inductees has already set the bar high. The first is Gil Meier, who started the program, had 22 state champions and won five state titles in an eight-year period. Bob Kawa was an extremely influential coach during his time at Olympus, and is known to take all the alumni out to a dinner every year. Robert Brough won 19 straight district championships for the Jr. high program that feeds directly into the high school program, and Brandon McBride, the only wrestler inductee, was the only four-time state champion ever in school history.
For the current wrestlers on the team, the goal of this event is to allow them to watch and learn from the best of the best. “I want our current wrestlers to feel the history. They can learn so much from these men who made this program into what it is. The team will be attending the event, but as helpers to set up, and then they will be waiters for the banquet, so they can have a lot of direct contact with these legends,” Ashcroft said.
While many high school programs might have a storied history, the current teams are rarely allowed to appreciate it. For the Olympus wrestling program, that disconnect will cease to exist with the creation of this annual Hall of Fame banquet, and hopefully the current wrestlers can learn a thing or two from the men who built the program they compete for.