Trapper’s first wrestling coach, Gerry Danko, remembered

By Steve Moseley
Posted 2/27/20

All four coaches in Northwest College wrestling history gathered Saturday at Cabre Gym — three in person and one in fond memory.

Gerry Danko, who died last year, was the program’s …

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Trapper’s first wrestling coach, Gerry Danko, remembered

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All four coaches in Northwest College wrestling history gathered Saturday at Cabre Gym — three in person and one in fond memory.

Gerry Danko, who died last year, was the program’s first coach. Skipp McCrary was next. Steve Knopp took the reins from McCrary and after him came Jim Zeigler, the present coach.

Those three and the crowd on hand for the NJCAA Rocky Mountain District tournament honored Danko on Saturday afternoon and presented his wife, Carolyn, with a plaque recognizing her late husband for all he contributed to Trapper wrestling.

Gerry Danko brought wrestling to the college in 1971 as a new sport. He and Carolyn drove to Fort Collins, Colorado, that year to purchase and transport the first wrestling mat back to Powell.

Danko is credited with establishing a program which, under only four coaches, is alive and well 49 years later. He passed the torch to McCrary in 1977, when the Dankos acquired a farm.

Acquaintances knew Gerry Danko as an extraordinary man of many talents, who was determined to master whatever he took on.

Those who organized Saturday’s tribute recalled Danko as a kind and giving person — though his insistence that his wrestlers do their best made him an intense coach.

In what some termed the “School of Gerry,” Danko was known to hire wrestlers each year to work on his farm. It was there, they said, that he imparted life lessons and skills in an environment that was not always familiar to them.

His friends recalled Coach Danko as a masterful teacher of life who loved Northwest College — especially its students — and was unwavering in his availability and dedication to their futures.

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