Kelley to be inducted into Hall of FameBill Kelley’s Hall of Fame wrestling coaching career did not begin on the mat. He didn’t wrestle at all in high school or college. St. Catherine’s High School in Valley City did not even have the sport. In fact, his first experience with the sport came essentially by default, but it sure took off from there.
Bill Kelley’s Hall of Fame wrestling coaching career did not begin on the mat.
He didn’t wrestle at all in high school or college. St. Catherine’s High School in Valley City did not even have the sport. In fact, his first experience with the sport came essentially by default, but it sure took off from there.
In 1968 while teaching in Casselton, the team’s coach quit and a group of wrestlers talked Kelley into taking over the program. From there, the rest is history.
“I just fell in love with it and it grew from there,” said Kelley, who will be inducted in the North Dakota High School Wrestling Hall of Fame on Saturday during the state meet in Bismarck. “I loved everything about it. The passion the kids have, working with the assistant coaches. It was just a great sport to be involved in.”
Kelley’s teams posted a 76-40-2 dual record at Casselton. He coached two state champions and 10 placers. But most know him from his 25 years as head coach at Jamestown Middle School. When he initially arrived in town, he thought one day he’d like to be the head coach for the high school team, but quickly learned he was where he should be.
“I really enjoyed that age group and how you were really able to teach them the basics and hopefully set them on the right path,” Kelley said. “We had so many good kids. Not just in terms of wresting, but just good young people that loved to wrestle, but were also very receptive to what we were trying to help them learn.”
He also spoke fondly of his fellow coaches Joe Kroeber, Ron Zehren, Greg White and David Drenth, who was Kelley’s primary partner with the middle-schoolers.
“Dave Drenth was actually a much better technician in terms of teaching moves. He was very, very good at that,” Kelley said. “I would get practice organized and do those types of things. Dave deserves a lot of credit for any success we had.”
Kelley retired in 2001, but still lives and coaches in Jamestown. The upcoming season will be his 50th coaching track and field.
“I still enjoy it very much,” Kelley said. “It’s fun to get out there and try to help kids reach their potential.”
The induction ceremony will be special. His son Blair, who is a wrestling coach at St. Michael/Albertville (Minn.) along with Greg Greeno, will join the rest of their family for the occasion.
“It’s going to be an awesome experience and I’ll be able to share it with my family, so we’re looking forward to it,” he said.
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com