Putting away the rule book
Callen takes over for Welker as WVSSAC?interpreter
WHEELING — Dr. Bill Welker officially hung up his whistle and rules book Sunday night. The Wheeling native, who was the center of a good-natured ribbing by fellow mat officials from the Ohio Valley — and around the Mountain State — during a meeting at Abbey’s on Wheeling Island, retired at the end of last season.
“I feel very honored to have been the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission’s (WVSSAC) Wrestling Rules Interpreter and Clinician for 28 years (1989-2017). I especially felt honored serving on the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) national rules committee for 4 years (2012-2015). We met in Indianapolis, IN annually in early April each year,” Welker said. “It was quite rewarding working with my peers from across the country, working on positive rule changes and wrestler-safety concerns.”
Welker did more than officiate matches and oversee rules, he was a teacher of the sport, as well.
“Having conducted almost 300 wrestling clinics throughout the years, it was a pleasure communing with W.Va. wrestling coaches and officials from across the state,” he said. “I learned as much from them as they learned from me.
“During my tenure as rules interpreter, I was always very accessible to all state coaches and officials. They knew that they could contact me any hour of the day regarding any wrestling rule. If I couldn’t answer a coach’s or official’s question, I would immediately contact the (NFHS) to find out the answer, and would then quickly relay the rule interpretation to the coach or official,” he explained.
“As the supervisor of the WVSSAC state tournament officials and state tournament rules interpreter for over a quarter of a century, it was always a pleasant challenge explaining to coaches and officials various match rules, even under stressful situations. The professionalism of our state wrestling coaches and officials is nonpareil.
“Unlike other athletic endeavors, the wrestling community is unique in that there is a deep comradeship and respect between wrestling coaches and officials. Both groups stand together in their extreme desire to make the sport of wrestling a positive experience for all those athletes who choose to participate in scholastic wrestling. I am proud to have been a part of the wrestling community for over 60 years. And I will continue to support wrestling,” he concluded.
Jeremy Callen, from the Charleston area of Clendenning, is Welker’s successor. He works out of the Kanawha South Board of Officials and has been doing so for 22 years.
“It’s been great working with Dr. Welker and all the guys throughout the state of West Virginia. I’ve travelled all over the state and I will continue to do so,” Callen added. “It’s (wrestling) has been a big part of my life. I started wrestling when I was 5 years old
He knows he has big shoes to fill.
“Very big shoes,” he stressed. “Dr. Welker has done a lot for wrestling, not only in the state of West Virginia but nationally, as well. I’m looking forward to the challenge of the position. I hope I can carry on the legacy that Dr. Welker has over the past 28 years.”