Tom Kimmel

Five Buccaneer wrestlers will compete in the district wrestling meet this weekend at Hobart Arena in Troy with hopes of adding their names to the rich wrestling tradition at Covington as State Qualifiers and possibly earning their own banner in the wrestling room as a State Placer.

And as these five wrestlers take to the mat on Friday, they can thank an individual who they probably don’t even know for the opportunities they enjoy as Buccaneer wrestlers.

That person is Tom Kimmel, who passed away Wednesday, March 1st in his Covington home at the age of 71.

“Uncle Tom pretty much helped start the wrestling program,” described Randy Kimmel, Covington’s first ever state qualifier and nephew of Tom Kimmel. “Uncle Tom, Jack Schwamberger and Larrie Tisdale, they started the whole program and followed it through.”

The first Covington wrestling team was started in 1973 under the guidance of coaches Larry Tisdale, Dean Pond and Rex Thompson. Jack Schwamberger then took over shortly thereafter.

But behind the scenes was Tom Kimmel, who spearheaded the Covington Jaycees wrestling program where he would haul Covington wrestlers of all ages around the state and beyond to gain valuable wrestling experience during the off-season.

“Tom started the whole Jaycees program,” said current Covington coach Tom Barbee. “That was the first organization for off-season wrestling in Covington and Tom got it going. He gave a lot of kids their first start in the sport and many of those kids continued on through high school.”

Including his nephews – the Kimmel Brothers – Rusty, Randy, Ryan, Rodney and Ray.

“He’s the one who got me and my brothers involved in the sport,” Randy explained. “Not only us, but a lot of other kids got involved through Uncle Tom.”

Rusty Kimmel, who was the first of many great Buccaneer wrestlers, agreed.

“It’s been a while ago, so my memory is pretty sketchy – but I know Uncle Tom worked a lot with the younger kids in the Jaycees program,” he said. “He did a lot for the sport in the early days.”

Which consisted of taking the wrestlers to camps and tournaments around the state and sometimes across state lines in order to find opportunities to improve in the sport of wrestling.

“I can remember him taking us to a Gramby Camp in Virginia and some free style tournaments in Pennsylvania,” said Rodney Kimmel, who was a state qualifier in 1985. “I also remember Tom taking us over to wrestle with the Jordans (Jim and Jeff Jordan) in their basement.”

At the time the Jordans were the standard for high school wrestling as both Jim and Jeff became four-time state champions and ultimately collegiate standouts at the University of Wisconsin.

“I think Tom took us there so he could learn some new things to teach the Covington kids,” Rodney continued. “Tom was always looking for new things he could teach us and the Jordans, being a good christian family, they helped us a lot.”

Tom was also influential in starting up a youth wrestling tournament in Covington through the Covington Jaycees.

“He started up a big Jaycees tournament at Covington where a lot of wrestlers from all over would come and wrestle,” Rodney explained. “I remember it became a huge tournament and some of the wrestlers who came from out of town would even stay at our house.”

Throughout the ’70s and early ’80s, many Covington wrestlers benefitted from the experience gained in the Covington Jaycees wrestling program thanks to the generosity of Tom Kimmel. It was the first feeder program for the high school program, which took off dramatically in the late ’70s and early ’80s with 12 state qualifiers and 2 state placers, Craig Vanderhorst and Jason Kingrey. Among the two state qualifiers were two of Tom’s nephews, Randy (’78 and ’79) and Rodney Kimmel (1985).

“Tom had a lot to do with the success of the program early on,” Barbee said. “The experienced gained from wrestling in those tournaments at a young age helped those kids when they got into high school. He had a lot to do with our success in those early years.”

And as the sport grew and improved under coach Tom Barbee, new generations of Buccaneer wrestlers enjoyed more success on the mat – including Tom’s grandson Kyler Deeter, who placed fourth at the state meet in 2012 and is currently wrestling in his senior year at Ohio Northern University.

“If it wasn’t for guys like Uncle Tom, Larrie Tisdale, Jack Schwamberger and Tom Barbee, Covington wrestling wouldn’t exist today,” said Rusty. “They all were a big part of it.”

Which is why the five current wrestlers hoping to go to state this weekend – and every current or former Buccaneer wrestler – can thank Tom Kimmel for helping put Covington wrestling on the map.

COVINGTON – Thomas A. Kimmel, age 71, of Covington died Wednesday, March 1, 2017, at home. He was born April 21, 1945, in Piqua, to the late Daniel and Alice (Stephenson) Kimmel.

He was a graduate of Covington High School, class of 1964; a member of Covington Christian Church; helped start the wrestling program in Covington with the Jaycees; and was an avid fan of the Covington Buccs sports teams.

Preceded in death by his parents; wife, Sandra Kimmel; two brothers, JD and his wife, Deloris Kimmel, and Robert Kimmel; sister, Joanna and her husband, Tony Guido.

Thomas is survived by seven children and their spouses, Shanda (Kimmel) and Kelly Deeter of Covington, Tracy (Kimmel) Colbert and her fiance, Dane Zimmerman of Kettering, Nikki (Kimmel) and Jason Angle of Covington, Amy and Kenneth Meyer of Biloxi, MS, Mike Anthony of Covington, Angel and Lucas Duffy of Texas, and Rob and Reba Daniels of Covington; 19 grandchildren, Zach and his fiance, Crystal Gumm, Cali and Kyler Deeter, Madison and Colin Colbert, Zachary and Andrew Zimmerman, Samantha Whiteman, Brogan and Brant Angle, Brooklyn and Christian Meyer, Logan Anthony, Ava and Alyssa Duffy, Savannah and Emorie Daniels, Isaias and Mercy Monsivais; four great-grandchildren; brother, Kenny and Dixie Kimmel of Covington; three sisters, Kathy and her husband, Roger Baker of Covington, Rita and her husband, Larry Walters of Greenville, and Lois “Jean” Kimmel of Covington; many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

The family will receive friends Monday 5-7 p.m. at Bridges-Stocker-Fraley Funeral Home, Covington. If desired, memorial contributions may be made to the Bucc Boosters Association.

Condolences may be left for the family at www.stockerfraley.com.