Willie Lee “Coach” Gadson, 59, died Sunday, March 10 at Covenant Medical Center after a year-long battle against cancer.
He was born August 14, 1953, in Allendale, SC, son of William Henry and Bernice Moore Gadson. He married Augusta Denita Minor on Dec. 29, 1981, in Hampton, SC.
Willie graduated from Huntington High School in Long Island, NY. After a very successful career at Nassau Community College in Nassau, NY, – where he posted a career record of 45-0 and was a two-time NJCAA All-American – he became a two-time NCAA Division I All-American at Iowa State, placing 3rd in 1975 and sixth in 1976 at 177 pounds.
His coaching career catapulted in 1992 when he was named the head coach at Eastern Michigan University, leading the Eagles to their first-ever Mid America Conference title in 1996 and earning MAC Coach of the Year honors. He left Eastern Michigan after the 1997 season and made stops on the prep level as an assistant coach, including a stint on the staff at Iowa City High School before taking over at Waterloo East in 2004.
During his coaching career at East High, Gadson led 16 qualifiers to the state tournament including 10 place winners. His son, Kyven, was a two-time state champion at East in 2009 and 2010. He was also a state finalist in 2008. Coach Gadson led the East High wrestlers into this past season, before taking a leave of absence in late December....