Pronga inducted into Hall of Fame

Justin Miller
Lou Pronga, standing at far right, stands after being inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Hall of Fame Saturday.

The man that helped bring wrestling to Illinois Valley Central High School, Lou Pronga, was inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Hall of Fame Saturday night at Countryside, a town near Chicago.

“It’s definitely very humbling to be inducted into the hall of fame and to be honored by them at the banquet,” Pronga said. “It’s really humbling to know that people think that way of me.”

Pronga, who grew up in Washington, Iowa, coached IVC’s wrestling team from 1966-1988.

“I wrestled in college for three years,” Pronga said. “When I got out, I knew that Chillicothe did not have a wrestling program and was kind of looking to start one, so that’s part of why I inevitably took the job there.”

Pronga graduated from Monmouth College in 1961 and, four years after joining IVC, started the wrestling program.

During Pronga’s time leading the Ghost grapplers, he racked up a record of 290-107-6 and an impressive winning percentage of .727.

“What I really like about wrestling is that every wrestler has to rely on themselves alone in the end,” Pronga said. “When you’re on the mat, you only have yourself to rely on, and you’re really competing against yourself out there.”

While Pronga could easily hang his hat on the team’s win totals when he was the coach, he preferred to measure his success in the individuals he taught.

“It was nice because you could start with a kid that didn’t know anything about wrestling when he started and by the end of his time there he could have been a State contender,” Pronga said. “You could always measure the difference between where someone started, and where they ended, as a wrestler and that was something I really liked.”

Not only did Pronga help the school to some of their best wrestling seasons, he also got to make a living doing something about which he is passionate.

Pronga taught math at IVC and was the athletic director the last four years of his tenure.

“My time at IVC was great,” Pronga said. “I really enjoyed helping teach the sport of wrestling to the kids. And it wasn’t just coaching that I enjoyed. I also loved teaching there. It was a great time and a place where I looked forward to going to work everyday.”