USA Wrestling Legendary leader and coach, Greg Strobel, has passed away
by Jack Carnefix, National Wrestling Hall of Fame
STILLWATER, Okla. – Greg Strobel, a Distinguished Member inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012 and a lifelong leader with USA Wrestling, passed away on Thursday, at the age of 68.
“Greg was one of the most involved and influential individuals in wrestling over the last 40 years. He was the first National Teams Director for USA Wrestling on its national staff, worked for clubs and coached in college. He was a USA Wrestling officer, Executive Committee member and Board member for years. He was an Olympic coach. He was active in every level of wrestling. He was still giving clinics and helping youth wrestlers in his area. He was a great person and helped anybody in the sport. I don’t know anyone who was more active. Over the years he was instrumental in my success. He was my personal coach for many of my Olympics and World Championships,” said two-time Olympic champion and USA Wrestling President Bruce Baumgartner.
“On behalf of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Board of Governors and staff, we extend our most sincere sympathies to Greg’s family and friends on his unexpected passing,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director. “We would also like to express our sympathies to USA Wrestling and the Lehigh University athletics and wrestling communities that Greg was so instrumental in building and sustaining.
“Greg had a contagious energy for wrestling, and was passionate about inspiring and teaching wrestlers, coaches, administrators and volunteers how to best embrace and excel in our sport,” he added. “His leadership as national teams director in the early days of USA wrestling helped lay the foundation for the success that our athletes have on the world stage today.”
"The untimely passing of Greg Strobel is obviously a huge blow to the wrestling community. His fingerprints are all over USA Wrestling. He’s a mentor of mine, somebody who poured his entire life into the sport of wrestling. He is irreplaceable,” said Rich Bender, USA Wrestling Executive Director.
The front lobby of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame has a cabinet that was constructed by Strobel and fellow Distinguished Member Bruce Baumgartner.
As a wrestler, coach, and a leader, Greg Strobel did it all. Strobel’s wrestling story began at Scappoose High School in Oregon. He won three state championships at 191 pounds and, at one point during his senior year, Strobel actually coached the team.
Staying close to home, Strobel wrestled at Oregon State under Hall of Fame coach Dale Thomas. His career with the Beavers was exceptional. Strobel was a three-time All-American, compiling a 124-5-1 record.
As a junior at the 1973 NCAA tournament, Strobel was thrown early in his championship finals match at 190 pounds against Johnny Johnson of Northern Illinois before storming back for an 11-7 victory. He became Oregon State’s first ever recipient of the Outstanding Wrestler for his efforts. He finished the season at 39-0, and continued his unbeaten streak into the 1974 season. Strobel capped his senior season with another NCAA title and winning streak of 77 matches.
Strobel’s impact on wrestling continued as a coach, including head coaching stints at the high school, college, and international levels. He will be best remembered for his career as the head wrestling coach at Lehigh University. From 1994 through 2008, Strobel’s teams compiled a 189-83-1 dual meet record. He led the Mountain Hawks to six EIWA championships, including five in a row from 2002 through 2006. His wrestlers captured 28 individual EIWA titles and 30 All-American honors. Strobel also coached two NCAA champions: Rob Rohn in 2002 and Troy Letters in 2004.
As an international coach, Strobel was just as successful. Prior to arriving at Lehigh he was the National Teams Director for USA Wrestling from 1983 through 1991, overseeing USA Wrestling’s international teams and programs. He was also the National Freestyle Coach for USA Wrestling in 1987-88. Strobel also joined Distinguished Members Dan Gable and John Smith as head coaches of the 2000 United States Olympic freestyle wrestling team.
He advanced the sport through key leadership positions at Lehigh and for USA Wrestling. In 2009, Strobel was named Man of the Year by USA Wrestling. After stepping down as Lehigh’s coach in 2008, Strobel remained with Lehigh as an assistant athletic director. All throughout his professional career, he asserved as a volunteer leader with USA Wrestling, as an officer, member of the Board of Directors and chair of numerous important committees. He most recently served as its second vice president.
Greg Strobel made a huge impact on the sport of wrestling at every level, a man who advanced the sport and allowed wrestling to grow and improve.
The official obituary from the family is expected in a few days, which will provide information on memorial plans.
National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum
America’s shrine to the sport of wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1976 to honor the sport of wrestling, preserve its history, recognize extraordinary individual achievements, and inspire future generations. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame has museums in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Waterloo, Iowa. The Stillwater, Oklahoma, location reopened in June 2016 following a $3.8 million renovation and now features interactive exhibits and electronic kiosks, as well as the opportunity to watch NCAA Championship matches from the 1930s to present day. It also has the John T. Vaughan Hall of Honors where the greatest names in wrestling are recognized, including iconic granite plaques presented to Distinguished Members since the Hall of Fame opened in 1976. The museum has the largest collection of wrestling artifacts and memorabilia in the world, including the most collegiate and Olympic wrestling uniforms. Wrestling truly is for everyone and the diversity and accessibility of the sport continues to be highlighted through exhibits featuring females, African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latino Americans. There is also a library featuring historical documents, including NCAA guides and results, as well as books on the sport. For more information about the Hall of Fame, please visit www.NWHOF.o