Welker To Have OVAC Award in His Honor

WHEELING–The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference has done a tremendous job of naming some of its championship tournaments after individuals who have served that sport in some capacity for many, many years.

Although it may not fit into that specific category, the OVAC Executive Board informed Dr. Bill Welker this past week that the OVAC Wrestlers of the Year Award, which he had presented through his ‘Mat Talk’ column in area newspapers would now be presented by the conference and named in his honor.

“I am very excited about this honor,” Welker said. “I attribute any abilities I have as a writer to my literary mentor, the late legendary sports editor, Bill Van Horne. It makes you feel good about being dedicated to a sport. Everybody has their own dedication. For me, I’m a firm believer , not only in wrestling which taught me a lot about life, but also the importance of studying. When wrestlers go to college, they know there isn’t anything like pro wrestling after they have finished their careers … maybe Olympic wrestling … but not pro wrestling. So they go to college to get a degree.”

Welker has been writing about the sport of wrestling since 1974. He was the Mat Talk columnist in The Times-Leader and Sunday News-Register from 1978 until 2010, where he wrote more than 600 articles.

“Bill is the person who allowed me to write about wrestling. he had a passion for the sport,” Welker added. “I will always appreciate what Bill referred to as the so-called ‘minor’ sports. He always supported me and the sport of wrestling.”

During that tenure, Welker awarded “Mat Talk” All-State certificates to all-OVAC Ohio and West Virginia wrestlers who placed in their respective state tournaments.

Welker initiated the OVAC Wrestlers of the Year Award in 1988. His selection committee consists of Ron Mauck, Dr. Dan Doyle, legendary John Marshall coach, Bill Hinegardner, and wrestling aficionado, Dick Wolf.

Over the years, Welker received numerous writing awards. He was selected an unprecedented seven times as the West Virginia Wrestling Sportswriter of the Year. Wrestling USA Magazine named him the National Wrestling Sportswriter of the Year in 1987 and in 2013, with his son Rick, where he is also contributing editor for the national periodical.

He is the editor and chapter author of two editions of “The Wrestling Drill Book,” published by Human Kinetics Publishers, which has sold over 30,500 copies nationwide.

Most recently, Welker published his memoirs, “The Sparrow’s Spirit,” which was declared the winner in the sports category by the Beverly Hills Book Awards in 2017.

Welker is now in the midst of writing his first wrestling novel, “A Wrestler’s Curse,” which will hit the bookstores in early 2020.


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