DES MOINES — Jerry Einwalter spent decades serving as the Dodger wrestling program’s right-hand man during its rise to prominence.
Einwalter will be recognized for a career devoted to the sport and the kids of the Fort Dodge community by the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame on Thursday, July 8. Einwalter is being presented with a Gold Standard Assistant Coaches Award.
“Jerry has truly been a supporter for so many in his life of service,” said Don Miller, Fort Dodge’s iconic former wrestling coach. “As an assistant, he became more like a brother to me. We could almost read each other’s mind. He was loyal beyond belief to me and to the program. He loved working with students, and would do anything possible to help them. Jerry’s knowledge, technique and loyalty made our program what it became during our time together.
“There are no words to say how strongly I feel this man deserves each and every reward he receives. He is one of Iowa’s finest gentlemen.”
Einwalter worked in the Fort Dodge Community School District as a teacher and coach for 32 years. He was the head wrestling coach at South Junior High, and later, an assistant at FDSH.
Miller, who took over as the Dodgers’ head coach at the varsity level in 1970, credited Einwalter for the development of his program from the lower levels on up, adding he was “very instrumental in getting Fort Dodge wrestling back to where it belonged as part of the state’s strong tradition.”
“Jerry put a spark in the (South Junior High program) that it desperately needed,” Miller said. “He immediately worked to improve the wrestling room (at South) by getting new mats and uniforms.”
Einwalter then became an FDSH assistant in 1974. He helped Miller map out a strategy for more tournaments and invitationals at the junior varsity and sophomore levels.
By 1976, the Dodgers were state runner-ups. Four seasons later, they took gold.
With a coaching staff of Miller, Einwalter and Hans Goettsch, FDSH went 133-49-3, with two state titles, two runner-up honors, and 11 district championships in 15 seasons. The Dodgers placed in the Top-10 at state in all but one season, had 99 individual qualifiers, and earned the first seven Big 8 Conference crowns.
“Needless to say, Jerry was a huge part of that success,” Miller said. “He started the (grade) 9-10 tournament (at FDSH) that still runs today. His support and knowledge also helped introduce the Fort Dodge (now Don Miller) Invitational, which still runs annually today.”
Einwalter was named assistant of the year for the state of Iowa in 1976 and again in 1985, when the Dodgers won their second state championship.
“Jerry’s involvement in wretsling was never just about Fort Dodge wrestling, though,” Miller said. “He got involved in all phases of promoting the sport. He worked many autumn Saturdays helping Iowa State raise funds for their program. He became friends with coaches like Dr. Harold Nichols and Les Anderson. He was a long-time clinician at the Iowa Central camps that Dennie Friederichs and I ran. He also did the radio broadcast for Fort Dodge and the area at state for 11 years, and worked (locally) with (Friederichs), a Hall of Famer in his own right for home and even away meets.
“He volunteered for the Dodger Relays (track meet), state cross country, and joined the local Sertoma Club, which raises money for speech and hearing needs of children. He was chosen Sertoman of the Year for all of his hard work.”
Even after formally retiring, Einwalter initiated the plan for an alternative high school at FDSH for students who would have otherwise potentially dropped out.
“Many students received degrees as a result of this groundbreaking program,” Miller said. “His program became so highly regarded that he was asked to be the president of the Iowa State Association of Alternative Education (with over 250 high schools involved).
“Jerry’s devotion and love for the youth of our society was always a driving force in his life. He was always a ‘giver’ and not a ‘taker.’ People always seek out a ‘giver’ like Jerry, and he is one to never shy away from his love to help.”
The luncheon next month will take place at the Iowa Hall of Pride.
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