Eighteen months after his death, former University of Wisconsin-Parkside wrestling coach Jim Koch will be honored with the unveiling of a newly upgraded wrestling room named in his honor as the program's founding coach.
The newly renovated Jim Koch Wrestling Center will be dedicated at a public ceremony this Friday, Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at UW-Parkside's Sports and Activities Center.
Students, athletes, and others within the community are invited to attend free of charge, but are encouraged to register in advance online. A reception, featuring a cash bar consisting of beer, wine and soda as well as light appetizers, will take place outside the Jim Koch Wrestling Center starting at 6:15 p.m.
The newly upgraded wrestling room will now feature a custom-built subfloor and new, custom-fitted wrestling mats. In addition, there will be a new visual history of the UW-Parkside Rangers wrestling program, including new displays which will recognize the long and storied program history, including national champions, All-Americans, Academic All-Americans, and team successes, along with a new plaque honoring coach Jim Koch's accomplishments, and new signage identifying the room.
"The Jim Koch Wrestling Center is a first-class facility that will have both an immediate and lasting impact on our program," UW-Parkside head wrestling coach Corey VanGroll told InterMat. "I really believe that we now have arguably one of the best rooms in the entire country."
"Our alumni, supporters, and family of Coach Koch's raised $100,000 to make this project a reality."
Director of Athletics Andrew Gavin will kick off the dedication ceremony at 6:30 p.m., followed by coach VanGroll, who will share details about the new facility. In addition, redshirt senior wrestler James Lehman, Dan Koch, Donna Namath and Chancellor Deborah Ford will share their thoughts on the Jim Koch Wrestling Center throughout the evening.
Koch, the first ever coach of the UW-Parkside wrestling program, was at the helm for 41 years before retirement in 2011, making him the longest-tenured collegiate wrestling coach in Wisconsin state history.
He died at the age of 69 in March 2017 after he was struck by a car during a morning run in St. Louis during the 2017 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
By any measure, Koch's time on campus was successful. He coached 128 NCAA Division II All-Americans, oversaw 68 national tournament appearances and coached 14 individual national champions. Koch's teams finished the season in the top 10 in the national rankings 23 times, as he posted an overall dual meet record of 277-168-8. Ten times he was named Wisconsin/Midwest Regional Coach of the Year, and in 1971, he was named Amateur Wrestling News Collegiate Rookie Coach of the Year.
In addition, Koch served as president of both the NAIA and NCAA Division II National Wrestling Coaches Association. Parkside hosted the national tournament three times during Koch's tenure.
Koch also earned enshrinement in four wrestling Hall of Fames: the NCAA Division II, the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics), the District 14 NAIA and the George Martin Wisconsin Wrestling. In 2003, he was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
University of Wisconsin-Parkside is a four-year public university located in southeast Wisconsin, between Racine and Kenosha in Somers, Wis. The school has an enrollment of approximately 4,700 students. UW-Parkside sports teams -- including the wrestling program -- compete in NCAA Division II.