UW-Parkside remembers Jim Koch

AUSTIN KRIEGER | krieg004@rangers.uwp.edu

On March 23, UW-Parkside community, Parkside wrestling and fans and competitors of the sport lost a dear friend, brother and mentor in the passing of Coach Jim Koch. Koch was the founding coach for UW-Parkside’s wrestling team in 1970, which he led to great success. Even after stepping down from the head coaching position, Koch continued to play a huge role with Parkside wrestlers, both on and off the mat.  


Koch was born in South Dakota in 1947, where he grew up practicing the moves and techniques he was to use in his own wrestling career and to fend off individuals looking for a brawl. Koch used his experiences to develop his own moves and holds, which he passed on to athletes he later coached. In Koch’s senior year of high school, he ended with a record of 23-1-1, where he later carried onto the South Dakota state and served as a co-captain, leading the team to third place within the national championship. Koch’s devotion to the sport continued after his competition days to a very successful coaching career.

Koch at UW-Parkside

Coach Koch led the Parkside wrestling team for 41 years, procuring a huge amount of honors and achievements by him and his teams. Some of these include 14 individual wrestler national championships and 23 seasons on the top ten schools in the division. Koch also supported his athletes in academics as well. Eighty wrestlers under him achieved Academic All-America honors. Without a doubt, Koch was a man truly devoted to his student’s and athlete’s success.

Within Koch’s coaching career, he also received numerous achievements and awards. This included  being named the Midwest regional coach of the year ten times and what may be his more prestigious award, the Lifetime Service Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Koch’s impact

In almost every way, Jim Koch’s life was purposed with developing student athletes and those he met into important and productive additions to our communities and the world. Koch’s achievements and impact he had on those around him will be the memory left behind, and his spirit will be carried on by the UW-Parkside wrestling team and campus community alike for many years to come. The current head coach, Gregg Lewis, and his team spoke of Coach Koch in the highest regard, “He always had a close relationship with his wrestlers…he was the type of guy you could stop by just to talk or look for guidance. Above everything, he was really a classy guy in all parts of his life.”

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