Class of 2017
Kirby Rodgers graduated from Charleston HS in 1969. Charleston high school did not have a wrestling program at that time, so he walked onto the Eastern IL University wrestling room in the summer of 1969 not having wrestled one time. Under the coaching of IWCOA Hall of Fame Harold “Hop” Pinther, Kirby was the 11th man on the 10 man EIU team his freshman year. He was the second string 167, 177 and 190 pounder. He lettered four years at EIU ending his career with trip to the nationals at Brookings South Dakota.
Kirby earned his referee license through a wrestling coaching class at EIU with the final exam being the IHSA rules test. He was hired to officiate his first match at an IKWF Regional in the Mattoon National Guard Armory in 1972 by Mattoon kids coach and referee John Bonic. At that time IWCOA Hall of Fame referee Renny Garshelis was instrumental in mentoring new officials in the area of Charleston and Mattoon.
Kirby graduated from EIU in 1973. Beginning in the 1974-5 school year, Kirby was hired as a Jr. High Geography teacher and an assistant wrestling coach at Challand Junior High School in Sterling, IL. He coached in Sterling for 9 years at the junior and senior high levels with IWCOA Hall of Fame coach Carson DeJarnatt. Together they also coached the summer wrestling program through the Sterling Park District.
While at Sterling, Kirby continued to officiate, working with IWCOA Hall of Fame officials, Tony Licocci from Rock Falls and Don Mekeel of Sterling. In 1986 Kirby moved to Dixon to begin his administrative career as a Dean of Students. In 1993 he moved to Sullivan, IL. as a Middle School Principal and again in 1995 to Edinburg to become a K-12 Superintendent. In 1999 he moved to Midland as a K-12 Superintendent and in 2005 moved to Lincoln as the K-8 Superintendent, retiring in 2008. While residing in central IL, Kirby met and officiated with another IWCOA Hall of Fame Referee, Dan Fulscher. Throughout the past 15 years the wrestling duo of Fulscher and Rodgers have graced the gyms throughout central IL. Known humorously by coaches as GOD and Methuselah, most have no problem finding out which one is who!
Throughout Kirby’s career he has coached numerous IKWF state place winners and one State Champion. He has coached park district wrestlers who have grown up to be IKWF, IESA and IHSA State Champions. He has officiated over 15 IKWF State Tournaments, 3 IESA State Tournaments, 4 IHSA State Tournaments, and 3 National Wrestling Tournaments for the Blind. Kirby also officiated collegiate wrestling matches at EIU and Millikin University. For the past four years, he has been the IKWF Administrative Assistant for Officials. In 2016 he was awarded the Gold Medallion Award for over 40 years of service from the IWCOA. In 2016, he was appointed as an Assistant Officials Clinician for the IHSA. This year Kirby was named IKWF “Official of the Year”. The 2016-17 season will mark Kirby’s 46th year as an official.
Kirby resides in Lincoln with his wife Barbara. They have three grown daughters and two granddaughters. He enjoys golf, tennis and riding his Harley. He has been retired from Public School Education for 9 years and enjoys volunteering in his free time.