Induction Year: 2004
Recipient of the Mertz Mortorelli Coaching Achievement Award
Robert Thomas was an excellent athlete who became an outstanding coach at the high school and college levels.
Mr. Thomas played four years on the Yellowjacket varsity basketball team, including the 1957 NCAA Tournament team. He played three years of varsity baseball, serving as team captain in 1958.
After graduating in 1960, Mr. Thomas became a high school teacher and coach. In Spring Valley, Wis., his baseball program produced one collegiate All American and a professional player. In football, he compiled a 119-79-4 record, winning nine conference titles and one state championship. His teams won a state-record 48 consecutive conference games. He was named the Kodak National Coach of the Year in 1973 and 1978, and in 1983 was named head coach of the Shrine All-Star Game. He started Spring Valley's wrestling program in 1965, compiling a 129-87-2 record and leading his teams to five consecutive state championships.
Mr. Thomas joined the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 1986. As assistant football coach he handled offense and special teams. As head wrestling coach, his teams compiled a 40-66 record, giving him the most dual wins in university history. His teams produced six All Americans and the only national champion in school history.