WINAMAC — Hall of Fame wrestling coach Steve Van Der Aa has decided he’s coached his last match.

The longtime Winamac coach recently resigned from his post after 20 years at the helm.

“In 20 seasons, I have been blessed to have coached the high school, the middle school and the kids club,” Van Der Aa said. “I realized Friday that I had coached exactly 500 high school wrestling meets [404-94-2 record]. Along the way, there have been plenty of good times and also some sad times as being involved in kids lives will happen. I have enjoyed the many memories that I will cherish forever. So thank you to all who have touched lives and helped make Winamac wrestling the premier program it has become.”

Van Der Aa, 54, was inducted into the Indiana Wrestling Hall of Fame this past February. He won nine sectional titles, one regional title and 14 Midwest Conference titles in his two decades at Winamac.

He’s had 16 individual state finalists and a state champion, Chris Kasten, who won two state titles and now wrestles at Purdue. Van Der Aa has coached more than 100 individual conference champions, 65 sectional champions and 18 regional champions.

“I have truly been blessed,” Van Der Aa said. “I have worked with the finest athletes in the area, and I want to thank the wrestlers for all their hard work and dedication to the sport. Thanks also to the parents for all their support over the years. I know some of the Saturday mornings were early and long days were spent in the bleachers.

“I would also like to thank the school for the opportunity to be part of the program. A huge thanks also goes out to my assistant coaches as they are truly the backbone of the program. Without them we would not have had the success we enjoyed.”

Van Der Aa added he plans to stay involved in the sport.

“I like to think I have been a positive role model in the kids’ lives,” he said. “We attempted to teach more than the technique that made them successful. We taught kids life lessons along the way, lessons like character building, goal setting, respect for others and work ethic. I will miss the kids and will try to stay involved in the sport in other ways.”

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