Wrestling coach steps up to serve his state

Dean Hall (center) poses with some of his wrestlers after the state championship wrestling tournament in 2019. Hall, who has served as the head wrestling coach at Fork Union Military Academy, was recently elected as Virginia's representative on the National Prep School Wrestling Board. Submitted photo

Dean Hall, head wrestling coach at Fork Union Military Academy and a Louisa County resident, has been named as the Virginia representative to the National Prep School Wrestling Board.

“It’s an honor to represent your state in any facet and to be able to improve wrestling for the kids I’ve coached and taught, that’s huge for me,” Hall said. “That’s why I do what I do.”

Hall began his career as a wrestling coach at Radford High School in 1995, leading them to a state championship in 1997. Since then, he has coached at several high schools around the state, including one-year stints at Fluvanna County High School in 2012 and Louisa County High School in 2013. While at Louisa, he led the Lions to their first Jefferson District championship in nearly a decade.

In 2016, he began coaching at Fork Union, rebuilding the school’s wrestling program from the ground up. While the school leaders thought it would take a few seasons to find success, Hall told them he’d do it in his first season.

“I don’t think they believed me, to be honest,” he said.

But he delivered on his promise. In his first season as head coach, Fork Union’s wrestling team went from last in the state to eighth place, wiht six wrestlers earning all-state honors and one qualifiying for nationals. 

The program only continued to improve from there, finishing sixth in Hall’s second season, then fourth in his third and third in his fourth season. Multiple wrestlers earned all-state honors each season and the number of national qualifiers continued to rise, with six wrestlers qualifying in the 2019-20 season. The team didn’t have a full season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they defeated St. Paul VI Catholic High School’s wrestling team in their lone match of the year.

Hall has garnered a number of honors as a coach over the years. He has been named Coach of the Year four times while at Fork Union, including two such recognitions from the Virginia Independent School Athletic Association (VISAA), and was named the 2019-20 All Central Virginia’s Coach of the Year. He was also recently appointed the chair of the VISAA wrestling committee.

Hall said he hopes to use his position at the state and federal level to help grow wrestling among private schools, not only in Virginia, but around the country.

“I don’t think there’s a bigger honor in the sport for me,” he said. “That’s why you get into coaching, not just to win state championships, but to help grow the sport that helped you become who you are.

“The most powerful part of this is that I’ll be able to say I helped make a difference in bettering wrestling for the United States as a representative for the [private] schools in Virginia, and that makes me feel almost like a proud father,” he added.

Of the many schools Hall has taught and coached at over the years, he says he’s enjoyed working with private schools the most. Hall attended and graduated from a private school and likes the sense of family such schools provide. That’s something he’s tried to instill in his wrestlers.

“We barely talk about winning,” he said. “We talk about trying hard for each other, loving each other and caring about each other. We really talk about teamwork and family and that’s a part of the sport that isn’t talked about as much as it should be in my opinion.”

Hall credits his family and their support with helping him achieve as much as he has. 

“My wife and kids have put up with a lot of long nights,” he said. “I owe all of this to my family and my support system.”

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