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Tom Nielsen

School: Cleveland (Commerce)

Sports Played: Cross Country, Wrestling

High School Honors: 2-year Cross Country letterman. 3-year Wrestling letterman; PIL 2nd 130 lbs, Junior; PIL Champion 130 lbs, Co-Captain, Senior; Team Champions, Junior and Senior. Team inducted into Cleveland Hall of Fame, 2014.

Post High School Career: Multnomah Community College; Linfield College, 1966-67; 2-year Letterman in Wrestling, twice Northwest Conference Champion, 145 lbs and NWC Outstanding Wrestler; Team Captain, Senior. Teacher and Coach, Roosevelt High 1987-96 (Wrestling, Cross Country, Girls' Golf). Won 3 PIL Wrestling Championships 1994-96 with 26-1 dual meet record. Coach of the Year, 1994. Wrestling referee in Portland Wrestling Association 37 years, 1965-92.


Thanks to all the old coaches and individuals of the PIL Hall of Fame for this honor and recognition. I owe so much to my mentors, coaches, my parents and the outstanding students with whom I worked.

Wrestling was in my blood—my dad had been a champion wrestler at Benson. At Cleveland, wrestling Coach Don York and his wife Collette became known as Mr. and Mrs. Coach. They were so good at keeping us all together. We got used to winning and it was fun to be on a team with expectations to work hard, be humble and a good sport. I had to learn to count on myself in a match. It helped my self esteem and gave me confidence in life.

Four years at Linfield inspired me with many pieces to use as a coach and teacher. I came back to the PIL as a teacher and head wrestling coach at Roosevelt in 1987, later adding cross country and girls golf to coaching duties. I would run with the cross country runners each week. This made it hard for the kids to complain when we would run 4-5 miles on hills. I was in my late 40's. I wrestled during each practice with the kids. From 1994-1996 our wrestling teams were 26-1 and we won the dual meet championship all three years.

I met my wife Mary Lee the second day I started at Roosevelt. She has been my best asset by my side and supporting all my teams. The gift I still have today is that so many of the kids still refer to us as Mr. and Mrs. Coach! What a joy it is to see many of the students and athletes come back into our lives as outstanding parents and good citizens.Thank you all for making an old man's life the greatest!

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