Former wrestlers remember coach Weick as 'one of a kind'
Ryan Casey describes legendary wrestling coach Bill Weick as a man ahead of his time.
“The kind of positive thinking everyone strives to have now, coach was a master of that back then,” Casey told the South Cook News of his days at Mt. Carmel High School playing under Weick. “He wasn’t a screamer or yeller, but he was still able to keep you on your toes and make you feel empowered. All the guys will tell you he was one of a kind.”
Weick died in his sleep on Aug. 16 at age 85. Five days later, when he was eulogized in Chicago Ridge, Olympians Dan Gable and Joe Williams were among the former players who traveled hundreds of miles to pay their respects.
“Coach always commanded that level of respect,” Casey, another former star who also coached alongside the National Wrestling Hall of Fame coach, said.
Weick won three state titles and developed 22 individual state champions at Mt. Carmel before moving on to rival Brother Rice, where DNA Chicago said he was a shot in the arm to a long-struggling program.
According to the Chicago Tribune, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld came to town to shake Weick's hand when Brother Rice dedicated its new wrestling facility in 2014. The two had been friends since Rumsfeld's days as a high school wrestler at nearby New Trier High in the 1940s.
All Weick’s wrestling glory didn’t just come on the sidelines, though. He also won two NCAA titles while competing at the University of Northern Iowa and a state title at Tilden High.
Weick, who was still the coach at Rice at the time of his death, also coached on several U.S. Olympic teams, leading the freestyle squad in 1972, 1980, 1984 and 1988.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he was still coaching and still impacting lives,” Casey said. “And with his energy, it seemed like he had been just 70 for about the last 30 years, and time for him had frozen.”
Weick’s coaching took him to Cuba, Mongolia, Panama, Romania, Canada, Russia and France. Still, Casey insists he never let his fame go to his head.
“The lessons I learned from him have stayed with me over my entire life,” Casey said. “Then I was blown away by being able to coach with him. Guys had better credentials than me, but he thought I had something to offer, and he gave me a lot of rope to learn the job.”
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