The History of the MWOA

(1952 through 2012)

      On the first day of March 1952, a group of seven men met in a basement to organize the first wrestling officials association in the area. With the need for officials at MSA and local area college matches, the Maryland Wrestling Officials Association (MWOA) was born. By 1954, since most of the charter members were coaches, a necessity quickly arose to expand to 13 officials.

      Charter members included Elmer Bright, President; Bill Anderson, Secretary; Ray Koslowski, Treasurer; Phil Lohrey; Ray Oliver; Ben Kohlhafer and Dan Revie.

      Because many members had direct ties to area high school and college wrestling programs, Ray Koslowski and Ray Oliver also became members of the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Officials Association (EIWOA). They would both go on to officiate several NCAA qualifying tournaments.

      As the years progressed, the MWOA's membership began to grow, as did the number of the jurisdictions the MWOA served. By 1964, the membership rolls rose to 34 and the MWOA service area continued to expand, encompassing not only the Mason-Dixon Conference and the MSA, but also the public school jurisdictions of Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford counties.

      Then in 1970, through the visionary leadership of Lee Hughes and in an unprecedented and extremely bold move, the MWOA broke away from control of the MSA assigner and finally claimed its independence. Such a move would become instrumental in the future development of the MWOA and would also pave the road for creation of other officials groups in all sports across the State. Lee Hughes, the MWOAs first commissioner, was a pioneer in the development of the Association as we know it today. He not only implemented a more sophisticated rating system, but was also the catalyst behind better training methods for younger officials, the initial reason why the MWOA is viewed as a highly professional organization. As Commissioner, Mr. Hughes solicited a larger service area and helped recruit more officials to accomplish that feat. It was during this time that the MWOA would also begin to serve the entire Eastern Shore of Maryland. Most notably, however, it was during Mr. Hughes eight-year tenure as Commissioner that the MWOA would explode onto the National scene.

      During the '70s, the MWOA would find many of its members officiating numerous NCAA qualifying tournaments. In 1972, however, Ray Oliver would take it one step further and become the first MWOA member to officiate the NCAA Division I Championships. Mr. Oliverís efforts, accomplishments, and success on the mat would make it possible for later MWOA officials to also have the opportunity to officiate at the NCAA Division I Championships.

      As time progressed, so did the MWOA. Membership continued to swell, the service area became larger, and the Association continued to grow with sophistication. Due to outstanding leadership, stricter membership requirements, and more thorough training methods, a very professional mode of operation became the norm for the Association.

      The decade of the '80s saw the MWOA continuing to expand on the national stage. Assignments to the Virginia Duals became prevalent. Ed Kelly would become the second MWOA member to work the NCAA Division I Championships, on three separate occasions from 1985-87. In 1989, Tom Gaylin would go on to officiate the finals of the first NWCA National Team Duals, the first of 16 such assignments. Also in 1989, Ed Kelly would take the next step and become an NCAA Evaluator of Officials at the big dance.

      The '90s saw an increase in assignments on the national level. At one point, six officials from the MWOA were blowing whistles at the Virginia Duals. In 1992, Tom Gaylin would become the third MWOA member to work the NCAA Division I Championships, the first of 15 consecutive assignments. In 1998, Joe Tauber would become the fourth MWOA member to work the Nationals, 2010 being his ninth appearance. Into the next millennium, Kevin Neville would become the fifth MWOA member to blow a whistle at the big dance, appearing in three consecutive championships with his most recent trip in 2010. Finally, the sixth MWOA official to officiate at the NCAAs would be Jim Chung, officiating in 2010, '11 and '12. Remarkably in 2010, five MWOA members were either blowing a whistle or evaluating officials at the Division I National Championships, a feat that has never before or since been duplicated by any group!

      During these appearances at the National Championships, Tom Gaylin would join Ed Kelly in performing evaluating duties every year since 2007. However, 2012 would mark the storied end of Mr. Kellys evaluating career, as he decided to retire from his evaluating duties, finally shelving his clipboard and pen, and putting an end to his illustrious career on the mat.

      At the same time these accomplishments were occurring on the mat, the MWOA continued to benefit from its strong leadership core. In December of 1999, the MWOA took a giant step forward in becoming incorporated under the leadership of John Gramiccioni. In 2005, through the guidance of Stewart Martinez as President, and the stewardship of Commissioner Joe DíAdamo, the MWOA would enter the 21st Century by converting to an on-line based assigning system, the Arbiter. Finally in 2009, Tony Aquia would bring the MWOA full circle and position the MWOA to be in compliance with newly enacted legal requirements being imposed by state and local authorities. It was also during this time that Mr. Aquia would negotiate a comprehensive longterm service agreement with all of the jurisdictions the MWOA serves, the first of its kind.

      Over the first 60 years, the MWOA has had 18 presidents, seven commissioners, and five MPSSAA Rules Interpreters. Six members of the MWOA have been inducted to the MPSSAA Hall of Fame, 16 members have been inducted to the Maryland Chapter - National Wrestling Hall of Fame, and one member has been inducted to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

      The future holds great things for the MWOA. Today with over 100 members, the Maryland Wrestling Officials Association services eight county jurisdictions along with Baltimore City and the MIAA. The Association also serves five different junior leagues along with the local area colleges and the University of Maryland. The MWOA prides itself on its honesty, integrity and professionalism and looks forward to the challenge of maintaining its high standards into the distant future.

     Congratulations to all who had a hand in the development of such a fine organization, arguably the best officials association in any sport in the entire country!

MWOA Charter Members, 1952

Elmer Bright, President
Bill Anderson, Secretary
Ray Koslowski, Treasurer
Ray Oliver
Phil Lohrey
Ben Kohlhaver
Dan Revie

Past MWOA Presidents

Past MWOA Commissioners

Past MPSSAA Interpreters

Tony Aquia
Elmer Bright
Jimmy Chung
Dick Clem
Tom Gaylin
Harry Gotwals
John Gramiccioni
Bill Hastings
Lee Hughes
Ed Kelly
Al Lehman
Paul Loverde
Stewart Martinez
George McKelvie
Kevin Neville
Bob Newton
Ray Oliver
Dan Revie
Jack Woodward

1970-78 Lee Hughes
1978-81 Monte Shepler
1981-85 Tom Gaylin
1985-88 Jack Woodward
1988-93 Joe D'Adamo, Sr.
1993-08 Bill Hastings
2008-12 Joe D'Adamo
2012-17 Bob Newton
2017-Present Stewart Martinez

1969-75 Paul Rusko
1975-82 Ed Kelly
1989-97 Tom Gaylin
1997-04 Bob Newton
2004-Present Bruce Malinowski

MPSSAA Hall of Fame

Maryland Chapter National
Wrestling Hall of Fame

National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Tom Gaylin
Bill Hastings
Ed Kelly
Bruce Malinowski
George McKelvie
Paul Rusko

2001 Ray Oliver, Ed Kelly
2002 Bill Hastings, Leo Bo Eibner
2003 Bill Anderson
2004 Walter Reed
2005 Phil Liberty, Paul Rusko, Dwight Warren
2006 Lee Hughes, Desi McNelis, Ray Haney
2007 George Mckelvie
2008 Bruce Malinowski
2010 Bob Newton, Jack Woodward
2011 Paul Triplett
2016 Bill Zimmerman
2017 Bill Weber
2018 Richard Schmertzler, Tom Fitch

Tom Gaylin, Class of 2001

MWOA Members Who
Have Officiated the
NCAA Division 1

Jim Chung
Tom Gaylin
Ed Kelly
Brian Murphy
Kevin Neville
Ray Oliver
Joe Tauber