A place to call their own

GLADSTONE – Its been a longtime coming but the Gladstone Braves wrestlers finally has a room to call their own.

On Sunday, following the team’s banquet, head coach Jeese DeBacker gave a speech in the newly finished room as Gladstone wrestlers tore away the tape. Underneath, was Scott G. Vallier Wrestling Room painted in purple in dedication of Vallier, who has worked with the Braves’ wrestling program for over 30 years.

“I was very surprised, I was shocked,” Vallier said. “When I walked in there and saw all of those people it was very humbling.”

Vallier, a Gladstone alum, was a U.P. Champion in 1978. Since that time he has worked with six different coaches, put in countless volunteer hours at tournaments and spent 19 years as the coach of the Youth Wrestling Club.

DeBacker had high praise for Vallier’s dedication to Gladstone wrestling and noted that he was a mentor during his early years on the mat.

“If it wasn’t for Scott, I would have never wrestled,” DeBacker said. “I would have quit in grade school. To finally be able to give something to a man who has giving so much to this program, it was probably one of the best days I’ve had coaching.”

“Scott’s son and me are best friends and Scott was like a father growing up for me. I named my son after him.”

Vallier’s family was there to see him honored at the banquet, including both of his sons, who were also U.P. Champions.

“It’s such a humbling experience,” Vallier said. “It’s an honor to have my name on that wall so my grandkids can see it in the future.”

The old middle school woodshop was converted into the new wrestling room. The team raised money and starting converting the room in September. The Braves practiced there this season but it wasn’t complete until recently. Prior to this season, they practiced in the upper deck of the middle school gym, which was unavailable during basketball games.

DeBacker and Vallier both thanked the parents and noted the future looks bright for Gladstone wrestling.

“I can’t thank the parents enough for what they do,” Vallier said. “The parents have done just a marvelous job. WIthout them this wouldn’t be possible. The future is looking really great for the program.”