Dave Mills to be Inducted into FHC Athletic Hall of Fame



As preparation begins for the second annual FHC Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony on May 13th, inductee Dave Mills, current gym teacher and wrestling assistant, has been sporting an especially bright grin in the hallways of FHC. Although his induction is for coaching, there’s much to be said about the legacy he has left behind. Here’s what he said about his induction.

Q: You’re being inducted into the Hall of Fame for your excellent talent coaching here at FHC, but have quite a legacy of your own wrestling at Mount Pleasant as a state champ in 1980. Do you think your past coaches impacted how you wrestled and how you coach? How so?


A: Absolutely. I had an outstanding coach at Mount Pleasant High School up there, he’s an absolute legend. I think he produced seven state championship teams in eleven years. I was fortunate to wrestle with a couple of my brothers. My older brother was an outstanding wrestler and was the first four-time state champion in Michigan in 1979. Coach Rapp was a lot of fun to wrestle for, it was one of those things where you wanted to do well because he was such a great guy. He treated a team like a family, and we had our ups and downs and kind of struggle through different things but he was just a great role model and mentor. I still stay in touch with him and am friends with him.


Q: You coached at FHC before coaching at GVSU for a bit before returning to FHC to become the volunteer coach. What influenced your decision?


A: I started here in 1988 for the 88-89 season. I had coached at Cedar Springs before that and then was here twelve years as the head wrestling coach. I decided to get Grand Valley’s program restarted because they were dropped in 91 like a lot of wrestling programs around the country. We restarted it in 2000, I coached there for eight years and was the head coach for six years. Then I asked Mr. Bolhuis, who wrestled for me, if he wanted to take over for me, and he’s done a great job since then.


Q: You’ve coached not only in Grand Rapids, but all over the country in your DVD series “Get Better, Faster,” the highest-selling wrestling series in the nation. How do you think the DVD series has influenced how you coached while at FHC?


A: When you do a project like an instructional video, it causes you to reflect and think, and maybe look at how you think the best way material can be presented in an easy format for kids to pick up. I think it’s helped hopefully made me a better coach and then the people I’ve been able to do video with-Olympic champions, world champions, national champions, I mean they just have cutting-edge technique that I can learn from and pass on to wrestlers I work with like the Forest Hills Central wrestlers.


Q: How has coaching your kids impacted how you have coached other wrestlers?


A: I think one of the toughest things, and you can ask coaches that have coached their son, even though I was just maybe an assistant or volunteer assistant, it’s tough because you have two hats-you’re a dad, and you’re a coach. So in the wrestling room, I’ll consider myself a coach, but more in the stands, I have more of the dad hat, but I’ll still yell some instructions as a coach too. It’s been great. It’s been a real joy, and that’s the reason I got out of Grand Valley, so that I could be around watching my kids come through and didn’t want to miss that time.


Q: Do you think your continuation of wrestling (winning the Lifetime Service to Wrestling award and Masters World Wrestling Championship) has improved how you teach students?


A: I think so. I think it goes both ways; the teaching helps you become a better coach, and I think coaching helps you become a better teacher. In just about every in-service that I’ve sat through, listening to a speaker, they would reflect on coaching and how coaches have influence with their athletes and how close they get, and just the things that they do to help students or athletes improve, and I think it’s the same way in the classroom. You take those techniques and you try to do things to help your kids enjoy the sports and get better faster, those kind of things.


Q: What importance do you think wrestling serves to young wrestlers? (for example, builds character, endurance, etc)


A: Absolutely. I think sports in general can teach a lot of life lessons for kids and young adults. There’s so many things you learn through athletics-persistence, hard work, teamwork, dedication, learning to overcome adversity, learning to win with grace and how to lose with pride and humbleness. I think athletics are just tremendous, and I consider wrestling one of the toughest sports, so I think with it being one of the toughest sports there’s lessons that you can only be taught with a tough sport like wrestling.


Q: What does the induction/recognition mean to you?


A: I’m very humbled by it, it’s quite an honor. I guess it means I’m getting older, but I have a lot of pride in that. It’s a reflection of all the time that assistant coaches have given…I consider this more of me accepting this on behalf of the many athletes and coaches I’ve worked with. It’s not a Dave Mills award, it’s a Forest Hills Central wrestling type award.


Q: Brad Anderson, a former wrestler of yours and also took over coaching FHC after you, is being inducted also. What does [his induction] mean to you?


A: If you kind of looked at our family, you’d say that I have three boys, but I kind of have four, because Brad’s been somebody I’ve known for a long, long time and I consider him just one of the family and like another son. He’s meant the world to me. He’s one of those guys that you say ‘if you work hard, this can happen’ and it has happened for him. He has worked extremely hard and he’s a two-time state champion, four-time state qualifier, an outstanding teacher as anybody who’s had him here knows. So we’re very lucky and blessed to have him as a teacher and a coach year, and I’ve been very lucky to have him as an athlete, a friend, and a family member.


Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?
A: I think the real big thing is that all of these things couldn’t have been possible without the love and support from my wife. You know, that’s the ultimate partnership, and she has done so many things, she’s been mat club president…I can’t tell you how many things she’s done to help the Forest Hills Central wrestling program and the Grand Valley program. She deserves more than half of this award.