BATTLE AT THE BALLPARK
ABOUT THE GCWCOA
The Greater Cleveland Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association (GCWCOA) has been in existence since 1947. The mission of the Association has always been to organize and promote the sport of Amateur Wrestling. The GCWCOA provides the opportunity for Coaches and Officials to meet and discuss improvements in our sport.
The GCWCOA was created by a number of legendary high school coaches, including Harold Kester, Lloyd Griffith, and Clarence Eckert. The GCWCOA rapidly grew as a mainstay in the area for amateur scholastic wrestling. For over 15 years, the GCWCOA conducted the State Wrestling Tournament at a Cleveland area high school before the OHSAA took over the event and moved it to Columbus. Although the state meet left Cleveland in 1959, the influence of the association greatly affected the sport and the administration of the State Wrestling Championships.
Through the 1950s, Ed “Zip” Zednick, Mike Milkovich, Gene Gibbons, and Bill Morris emerged as not only outstanding coaches, but also as leaders within the GCWCOA. In the 19060s, the Maple Heights Mustangs dominated on the mat; however, the leadership of the Association passed through other greats such as Steve Rudo and John Matteucci, to mention a couple. The 1970s found our association led by such notables as Joe Scaletta, Mike Papouras, and Dale Hlavin. On the mats, the late 1970s saw the emergence of Howard Ferguson and his St. Edward Eagles. His team captured the first of ten consecutive State Championships in 1978.
It was the spring of 1968 when the first-ever GCWCOA All-Star Meet was held. The proposal was to do something to showcase the best Northeast Ohio scholastic wrestlers and to raise funds to provide scholarships for high school seniors planning to continue wrestling at the college level in Ohio. Leadership was provided and shared by many, but it was the direction of President Cliff Radie that named the scholarship in honor of Al Carroll. Cliff also pioneered the All-Star Banquet and actively sought corporate sponsorship for this outstanding event.
Through all these changes in leadership, one thing stayed constant; Mr. Al Carroll was the Secretary of the Association. He was more than a Secretary. Al was the backbone of the Association, and many presidents learned that Al Carroll was the leader who provided the direction and stability for the group. Al was our secretary for 50 years and one of our scholarship funds continues to bear his name.
We lost Al in January of 1999 at the age of 85. Today, the Association has much to be proud of. Many of our former All-Star participants have moved on to become NCAA, NAIA, or NJCAA All-Americans. Northeast Ohio has remained a hotbed for rich wrestling tradition and success and the influence of the GCWCOA at the state level is still one of the strongest in Ohio.