RIVERSIDE — Selfless.
That’s how Mark Gerhard was described by friends and colleagues Monday, two days after his untimely death from an inoperable brain tumor. Gerhard, 66, was a long-time assistant wrestling coach at Carroll High School and was also instrumental in making sure youth wrestling in the Dayton area prospered. Gerhard graduated from Carroll in 1972 and five years later began a hall of fame coaching career for the Patriots under myriad head coaches.
“Mark Gerhard will be missed by all that knew him,” current Carroll coach Jason Ashworth said in a text. “He was an extraordinary coach, teacher, mentor, and friend. I am truly blessed that I have been able to learn so many important aspects and philosophies of coaching directly from him. Throughout his life, he has coached and helped out countless parents, athletes, and other coaches. Everything he did was completely selfless. I admire this many very much and I miss him very much.”
This past season, Gerhard spent countless hours working with younger wrestlers, organizing the Miami Valley Kids Wrestling Association, and making sure COVID guidelines were followed so youth tournaments could be staged.
“It was quite the task,” Ashworth said. “Saved kids wrestling in the area in my opinion.”
That’s no exaggeration.
“No other human has done so much for Dayton wrestling than Mark,” said former Carroll head coach Brian Carter. “Never a more respectful wrestling coach. Always putting the athletes and God first.”
While his first loyalty was to Carroll, to Gerhard, the name on the front of the singlet or warm-up suit mattered not. It was the wrestler who mattered the most.
“He was a man beyond reproach,” said longtime Beavercreek Coach Gary Wise. “Quiet, loyal, consistent. There are many examples of wrestlers from schools other than Carroll that state how influential Coach Gerhard was in their career. While some coaches are obsessed with championships, Mark was obsessed with relationships, making Mark’s impact much greater. Mark was always about the individual. Your school affiliation was meaningless to Coach Gerhard.”
It was always wrestling season for Gerhard. Someone, somewhere need some help or advice. And Gerhard was there to oblige.
“He did a lot for my sons in the off-season to help them take their wrestling to the next level,” said former Northmont Coach Scott Newburg. “He was always great to talk to and was always respectful in everything he did for the sport of wrestling. He was a great ambassador for the sport of wrestling. He will be missed.”
That isn’t just coach speak. Social media has lit up with comments about Gerhard.
Two posts regarding Gerhard’s death have received nearly 500 “heart” emojis, more than 250 comments, and nearly 200 shares as of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. Many of those shares are from other area wrestling programs.
“That just tells you what kind of person he is,” said Greg Terbay, a 1997 Carroll grad who wrestled and played football. “He could communicate to a kid in a way that nobody else seems to. He saw things that other people don’t see. He touched literally millions of lives and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. He was a true friend all the way through.”
Gerhard was the Patriot Award winner and Athlete of the Year as a senior. In addition to wrestling, Gerhard also coached cross country for several years and held coaching jobs with the Raider Wrestling Club, North Dayton Wrestling Club, Prodigy Wrestling Academy, and the Ohio Junior National Team. He directed the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Holiday Tournament from 1987-1997 and organized many other wrestling events as well.
Recently, Gerhard was selected for the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Hall of Fame, received an award for youth program direction from USA Wrestling, and earned special recognition from the Ohio High School Athletic Association for his behind-the-scenes efforts in his own district in March 2019.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.