Joe Hammaker

Joe is a legend in Pennsylvania wrestling circles. Already a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, and the Lock Haven University Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2008, Joe had a great career as a competitor and coach.

Joe wrestled at Hollidaysburg High School, graduating in 1953. He was a District 6 medalist his senior year, then attended Lock Haven State Teacher’s College, known as Lock Haven University today. He was a starter and steady performer, and won the VERY TOUGH Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship in both 1956 and 1957.  

Joe placed fourth in the NCAA Division 1 Tournament during his senior year at Lock Haven State. Nationals that years were held in Laramie, Wyoming. And while wrestling for the Bellefonte YMCA team with Andy Thal, another Class of 2022 Inductee, Joe was a two-time champion in the State YMCA tournament, and was named the Outstanding Wrestler each year.

Joe began his coaching career with a two-year stint as an assistant coach at Lock Haven High School. While at Lock Haven High School, he coached 2022 Inductee Jerry Swope, who was a member of that talented team. But then Joe hit pay dirt – he was hired as the Head Coach at Penns Valley, and he never looked back. 

Joe turned Penns Valley into a wrestling powerhouse during his 14-year head coaching career. He led the Rams to two undefeated seasons, 1962-63 and 1965-66. Joe was named twice as the District 6 Coach of the Year, and his Rams were a three-time winner of the tough Bald Eagle Nittany Christmas Tournament. His teams in the 1960's were dominant, and his squad scored a huge victory in the 62-63 season, breaking State College’s 64 meet win streak, to exemplify that dominance. Penns Valley won that meet 29-18.

Joe is member of the Penns Valley Hall of Fame. In 2017, he was inducted as a Charter Member into inaugural class of the Centre County Sports Hall of Fame. Joe and his wife, Vickie continue to live in Centre Hall, where he remains active in his community and in his church.  


Lifetime Service to Wrestling

Our Mission: To honor the sport of wrestling by preserving its history, recognizing extraordinary individual achievements, and inspiring future generations