Witness Post: Don York

Don York, who was inducted into the Oregon Chapter of the USA Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009, is remembered as the long-time coach at Cleveland High School. He served as the wrestling coach from 1957-1983.

High School Honors: 

Although he coached at Lincoln High School and Cleveland, York actually attended Franklin High School, graduating in 1949.

Post High School Wrestling Career highlights: 

  • Portland State College, Varsity Wrestling Letter winner.
  • Cleveland High School Wrestling Coach for 24 years (1957-76 and 1978-83), with 114 wins and 60 losses
  • Cleveland had 37 individual Portland Interscholastic League (PIL) Champions and 4 individual State Champions
  • 1961 and 1962 Cleveland teams were undefeated PIL Champions
  • The annual Don York Invitational Wrestling Tournament is held at Cleveland High School
  • York was inducted into the Cleveland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994
  • He was inducted into the Oregon Chapter of National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009
  • York was inducted into the PIL Coaching Hall of Fame in 2013

Commentary and Reflection by Don York:

I attended Franklin High School from 1946-49, then went on to Vanport, the forerunner of Portland State College. PSC couldn’t give diplomas when my course work was completed, so I want to University of Oregon for a quarter and received my degree. While there, I roomed with two PIL Hall of Fame members: Jack Dunn and Cliff York.

I was offered a job in 1956, after earning my BA degree, to coach at Lincoln High School. When I told the Lincoln football coach that I had wrestled in college, he was delighted to give me the job, since he had just been appointed wrestling coach and knew absolutely nothing about the sport.

The next year I transferred to Cleveland High School and the rest is history. Starting in 1957, I taught English and coached wrestling there almost continuously for the next quarter century, until I retired in 1983.

My main reflection is about how many of the athletes I worked with have become life-long friends, probably because we always have something to talk about. I spend much of my summers sailing my Hobi 16 and racing when competition shows up.(1)

(1) http://pilhalloffame.org/cybermuseum/product_info.php?products_id=672

Don York, Cleveland Wrestling Coach