Joel Skillings

Originally from a small rural town in Minnesota, Joel attended Moorhead State University and graduated with his B.S. in Physical Education, B.S. in Health, and B.S. in Coaching. After graduation, he married his high school sweetheart Jacquelyn and began his teaching and coaching career in New Town, North Dakota. After four successful years coaching football and wrestling in New Town, he moved to Minneota, Minnesota, and took over a program on the brink of being paired or eliminated — he had to beg for teams to wrestle the 14 kids who stood by his program rebuild.

For 31 years, Joel served as the head wrestling coach for the Minneota Vikings. His ultimate objective was to make his student-athletes into great people who understood that the world is full of choices that they must be accountable for. During that time, his teams amassed a record of 559-197- 4, placing him 8th all-time for dual wins in the state of Minnesota. Joel had eight teams qualify for the state tournament — 3-times placing 3rd and twice placing 4th. In 2015, his team captured the Class A State Championship. In addition, Joel coached 161 state qualifiers, 69 state place winners, 18 state finalists, and eight state champions.

Throughout his coaching tenure, Joel was named Section Coach of the Year 10 times and Class A Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2015. In 2015, Joel was also named the Minnesota Wrestling Coach of the Year. After retiring as head coach of the Minneota Vikings, Joel was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2021. In addition to his wrestling coaching career, he coached football for over 20-years and was a part of several state championship teams.

With a deep passion for the sport, Joel gave back to wrestling in many ways: serving as a section representative, the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association president, and working at every level of MNUSA wrestling. Moreover, Joel developed a deep friendship with J Robinson and served as a Director for J Rob Camps across the United States for 20-plus years. After retiring from coaching high school wrestling, Joel began serving as an assistant coach at Southwest Minnesota State University.

Outside of coaching, he was active in his school, community, and church. Joel completed over 30 marathons, qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon twice. He also enjoyed traveling with his family, working out, hunting, and convincing his two sons to run a marathon with him.

Joel gives credit to all those who helped him along the way: the wrestlers who gave him the opportunity to coach them and the wonderful people who fostered and mentored his love for coaching. He states, “I have been very fortunate to have many great influencers in my life and coaching career. I did my best to go where the best people were and learn as much as I possibly could to promote my program, the kids, the community, and the sport.” Adding, “Coaching in a small town with the same kids I taught as kindergartners was a pleasure and immensely gratifying. It’s funny how they look different when they are 16 and 18 years old. It was a privilege working with and watching those young people become the best version of themselves.” Most of all, Joel gives credit to his wife Jacquelyn, saying, “She was by far my biggest fan and the one person who gave me the strength and support to pursue my passion for wrestling.” Although honored and appreciative of all his wrestling-related accolades, Joel states his greatest achievement is his marriage to Jacquelyn and his wonderful family: daughter Ashley, sons Tanner and Christian, son-in-law Josh, and granddaughters Aria and Nola.


Lifetime Service to Wrestling

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