William Wassel

Although Bill never wrestled in high school or college (the sport was not offered in either school he attended), he immediately fell in love with the sport when asked to coach the Walpole High wrestling team in 1968. Bill was quickly attracted to the sport because of its mano a mano competitiveness and he happily coached the Walpole High wrestling team for five years, where his team won the Bay State League championship twice and he was lucky enough to coach state champion Bob Fluckiger (in 1969) and three state runners-up. 

Bill left coaching in 1973 to begin his career as a high school administrator, but wanted to stay involved in the sport in some capacity so he asked to be assigned to the MIAA's State Wrestling Committee. That began his involvement at the state level. In his third year as a member of the committee, the then State Director abruptly resigned and in 1977 Bill was asked to take over the position temporarily; he proceeded to skillfully serve as State Director until 2016. In Bill’s words, “That temporary assignment lasted for 40 years and I loved every minute of it!” 

During the first few years as State Director, because Massachusetts had only two divisions (DI and DII), he was able to do the job by himself but, in the early 1990’s, the teams offering wrestling in the state swelled from about 75 schools to well over 120. The smaller school coaches wanted more representation at the state level competition, so the wrestling committee, with Bill’s backing, added a small school division (DIII), resulting in about 45 schools per division. This was a huge development for Massachusetts wrestling and that alignment still exists today.

The annual season-ending New England Wrestling Tournament only allowed six wrestlers from Massachusetts to enter their tournament (originally the top three wrestlers from each weight class from the state’s two divisions). Bill knew that stipulation was not going to change and so in 1994, with Massachusetts growing to three divisions, he felt that a change had to be made in how the state determined who would participate in the New Englands. He didn’t feel that allowing only the finalists, in each of the three divisional championships, to participate would necessarily send the best six wrestlers in that weight class to the New Englands. Bill therefore proposed the establishment of an All-State Tournament where the top six wrestlers from each division would vie against each other to determine who were the best six wrestlers in each weight class, regardless of division. His proposal was approved by the State Wrestling Committee and thus the All-State Wrestling Tournament began in 1994. The rest is history. In the 28 years of the tournament, 14 All-State Champions have been crowned each year and they, along with the other All-State place winners, have represented the state very well at the New Englands, annually averaging six champions and more than 35 place winners each year. Not only did Bill found and initiate the All-States, but he also clerked that tournament from 1994-2005.

Bill said, “I was lucky in my life that my wife, Lynne, and I had three sons who all loved to wrestle. Two of them became Massachusetts state champions (Scott in 1984 and Matt in 1990) and two wrestled in college. Matt became a four-time All-New England collegiate place winner and a New England champion while wrestling at WPI. I’m also proud to say that I also have two grandsons who both wrestled in high school and college (Trevor at Plymouth State and Luke at Roger Williams University) and both have done very well. I guess you can say the Wassels are a wrestling family and we have one more wrestling grandson to go!! Chase should be wrestling for Walpole High in about four years.”

Bill added, “Without question the thing that I miss the most from my retirement as the State Wrestling Director is the camaraderie of all the wonderful people in the state wrestling community (coaches, ADs, officials, parents, grandparents, friends, and, of course, the wrestlers themselves). I honestly believe that wrestling is unlike any other sport because, within the sport, a karma exists where opponents (wrestlers and coaches alike) often become friends.”

Bill is honored and humbled for being chosen as a Class of 2022 inductee to the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.  



Lifetime Service to Wrestling

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