by CHRIS ROGERS
Grueling practices, tough matches, and advice from one coach to another — Joe Hoialmen and Bill Schmidt shared many memorable moments when Hoialmen wrestled for Coach Schmidt’s team in the 1980s and when Hoialmen followed in Schmidt’s footsteps to become the current Winona Senior High School head coach. But the two shared another last Saturday when they were both inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Region 1 Hall of Fame.
Schmidt coached the Winhawks from 1978-1989, leading 24 athletes to make the state tournament, including 12 place-winners. Hoialmen earned a state championship during Schmidt’s tenure, and the Hoialmen went on to become an NCAA Division III national champion for Augsburg College before beginning his coaching career.
“His favorite words were, ‘Just for fun,’” Hoialmen said of his former coach. Where other coaches might bark, Schmidt had a wry sense of humor. When the team was dead tired from running sprints or doing drills, Hoialmen recalled, Schmidt would grin and say, “Hey, let’s do one more, just for fun.”
While Schmidt asked a lot of his wrestlers, “He was always available to help you in any possible way,” Hoialmen said. Hoialmen recalled his former coach making time to review film with him late after practice and noted Schmidt was still involved with local youth teams today.
Schmidt said of Hoialmen as a high school wrestler, “He was non-stop from the time we got in the practice room to the time we got done. He would just go, go, go.”
Schmidt recalled one match that exemplified Hoialmen’s attitude. After getting a stomach flu at the end of the fall cross-country season, Hoialmen was out of shape for his first match of the year and got trounced by a kid he had beaten before. “He came off the mat, and I could tell you know he was disgusted, but we kind of pat him on the back. He took his headgear off, grabbed all his stuff … He came and sat right beside me, and said, ‘OK, coach, what do we need to do?’ There was no pouting. That was behind us. It was all, what do we need to do?”
Schmidt told the young Hoialmen he needed to get back in shape and that by the end of the season he would be. For the rest of the season, Schmidt said, Hoialmen went running every single day without fail — even the morning of the section tournament.
“It’s a really nice honor and probably more fun to share it with Joe,” Schmidt said of being named to the Hall of Fame.
“If you look at the people before me, and they’re all phenomenal wrestlers and coaches,” Hoialmen said. “So to be on that list, it’s an honor … And to go in with my coach, it’s like the cherry on top of it.”
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