On Monday, the Eastern Michigan University Athletic Department announced the death of former EMU wrestling coach Willie Gadson, who died on Sunday in Waterloo, Iowa.
After his year-long battle with cancer, Gadson died at the age of 59.
“Coach Gadson’s passing was felt across the entire wrestling community this week,” current EMU wrestling coach Derek DelPorto said.
Gadson earned Division I All-America honors for the Iowa State University Cyclones in 1975 and 1976.
Gadson’s son, Kyven Gadson, currently competes for the Cyclones and won the Big 12’s 197-pound championship the eve of his father’s death.
Gadson began his coaching career by heading the EMU Eagles from 1992-97. Under his leadership, the wrestling squad of 1996-97 was the first and only EMU squad to take home the MAC Conference championship.
“I hope I can accomplish what Willie did here at EMU,” DelPorto said. “I use the stats of the teams he coached as motivation to keep getting better.”
Gadson was given the honor of being selected for the 1996 MAC Coach of the Year. More recently, Gadson had been the head coach at Waterloo East School in Waterloo, Iowa.
“He has impacted so many people in the wrestling world, how do we begin to calculate what losing him could equate to?” DelPorto said. “We can’t—so what we all need to do is celebrate his life. His legacy will remain strong in all the memories he has provided to people.”
The funeral service is set for 11 a.m. on Monday, March 18 at East High School in Waterloo, Iowa.