October 17, 2017
Locals Duling, Wildesen head to Hall of Fame
Duling was hoop all-American; Wildesen winningest baseball coach
Two local products – two-time state Coach of the Year Ed Wildesen and all-American women’s basketball player Michele Duling– will be among those inducted October 28th into the Garrett College Athletic Hall of Fame.
Wildesen, who graduated from Southern Garrett High before playing at Garrett College himself, came back to lead the Lakers’ baseball program from 1994 to 2003. Duling, another Southern High grad, was a shooting guard in the women’s basketball program from 1992 to 1994.
Asked what she remembered most about her GC experience, Duling said, "All the road trips, making friends – and a lot of snow."
"We did really well," added Duling, who is now an engineering project manager in Lynchburg, Va. "Coach [Dennis] Gibson was actually the coach of both women’s and men’s basketball. We traveled with the men’s team to all the games. It was a lot of fun – a great two years."
While Wildesen enjoyed plenty of on-field coaching success, including guiding the Lakers to the 1997 conference championship, he said the off-field experiences are what he most remembers.
"We had some wonderful years, years we won 30 games and did well in postseason, but that pales in comparison to the fact that these guys still call me, still text me, still stay in touch with me," Wildesen said of his former players. "To have that kind of impact in two years means a lot."
Wildesen remarked that "it takes a village" to have that kind of positive impact on young student athletes.
"I just recall the support of the staff and the faculty all the way around," said Wildesen, mentioning the work of President Steve Herman, Deans Lillian Mitchell and Mike Kilgus, Bill Nedrow, and Ron Wendell. "And Dennis [Gibson, as men’s basketball coach] was a big partner with me. We worked so well together, particularly in those early months of the year when we couldn’t get outside because of the weather. He was always gracious in sharing the gym."
Wildesen said the building of the Garrett Hall – the college’s first residence hall – was very helpful to the program, especially with assistant baseball coach Cliff Everett managing the residence hall.
"That was huge," Wildesen said of having on-campus housing. "I think that gave the parents a little better peace of mind – for most of the students, it was their first year away from home. Cliff was there and I’m sure parents felt secure with him in place."
Wildesen – twice named Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference Coach of the Year – said the weather was a limiting factor, but his players "accepted the challenges and they went with it. They knew what they were getting into."
A 1983 graduate of Frostburg State University, Wildesen was an assistant coach at Southern High and head coach of the local American Legion baseball team before becoming Garrett College’s head baseball coach in 1994.
"We would have 35-40 players, including walk-ons, in the fall," recalled Wildesen, who had a 216-173 record at GC. "At that time we had about 400 full-time enrollments, so baseball alone had about 10 percent of the full-time enrollment."
Wildesen said he took particular pleasure in "getting those kids to the next level", noting that "some of them were drafted" – eight players overall, including two who reached the major leagues.
Duling – who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in business from Averett (Va.) University – said her all-American honors were just the byproduct of hard work.
"I wasn’t trying to be an all-American; I just wanted to be the best I could be," said Duling, who played both basketball and softball at Southern High. "I just gave 100 percent."
Wildesen, who attended the first Garrett College Athletic Hall of Fame induction in 2015, said that ceremony illustrated the impact the college has on students’ lives.
"Everybody that was inducted that year, the former players, they spoke of a love for Garrett County and Garrett College," said Wildesen. "I was just so proud to be a part of Garrett College. It’s a two-year school, yet these people remember and speak so highly of the college, remembering their time here. It’s a part of their lives forever."
Notes: Former Laker baseball players Mike Nagle and Benny Shreve will all be inducted along with the 1994 men’s basketball squad during a dinner and induction ceremony in the Community Aquatic and Recreation Complex (CARC) gymnasium. Robert "Cat" Whitfield, another former GC baseball great, was selected but will not be inducted this year due to a scheduling conflict.
The cost for the dinner buffet is $25 per person while children under 12 are free. The dinner will include chicken, roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, baby green beans, tossed salad, desserts and drinks. The dinner and awards event will take place on the Main Court and East Court.
Individuals interested in purchasing tickets may do so at www.garrettlakers.com. The reservation deadline is October 21st.