Former Columbia HS wrestling coach Hal Garwin to be feted

Hal Garwin

MAPLEWOOD, NJ – Hal Garwin, who stepped down as head varsity wrestling coach at Columbia High School at the end last season, will be honored with a Retirement Party at the annual CHS Wrestling Hall of Fame Dinner on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Garwin has been involved with wrestling in the Maplewood and South Orange communities for more than four decades. He started the youth program in 1972 and ran it until 1986. Garwin then coached the CHS freshman and JV teams from 1988 to 2006 where he then took over as varsity head coach.

Garwin wrestled for three years on varsity at Columbia and three varsity years at the University of Bridgeport, Conn. on the Division 2 collegiate level, and was an official for four years while in law school at Rutgers. In all, he has been involved in wrestling for 57 years.

Garwin reflected on his long wrestling career and how it has made a profound impact on his life.

“Besides my family and my Public Interest legal career, wrestling has been that all important extra that has given my life fulfillment,” he said, “It has instilled the belief that I can overcome difficult obstacles and be successful. Wrestling has taught me that hard work, dedication, and sweat, literally and figuratively, can result in a winning attitude, even if there is not an actual victory. It has enabled me to assist numerous wrestlers to realize that big or small, muscular or lean, you can be competitive in this sport and life when you have confidence in your abilities and work harder than the next person.”   

Garwin’s Retirement Party and the CHS Wrestling Hall of Fame Dinner will be held at O’Reilly’s Pub in Maplewood. There will not be an induction this year to the CHS Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Prior to the dinner, the Cougars will host a quad meet that day against Bernards, Montclair and Belleville, beginning at 10 a.m. Bernards is coached by Dave Brothers, a CHS alumnus who preceded Garwin as the Cougars head coach. Montclair is coached by Eugene Kline, Garwin’s former assistant coach.

Mike Freedman is the new CHS varsity head wrestling coach. Freedman was a former wrestler at Bloomfield and was the head coach at Montclair for the past several years.

Garwin felt grateful to be a part of the CHS and South Orange-Maplewood communities in his numerous roles.

“It had been a privilege and pleasure to have been a student, a resident, a homeowner, coach, employer in this wonderful community. As an athlete at CHS, I have had many great friends and coached a host of fine wrestlers, students and men. Retiring this past season from coaching has probably ended the longest streak in the wrestling room and men’s gym office.

“It has been a fantastic run. I wish to thank the several athletic directors over these decades for allowing this full-time lawyer and light-weight wrestler fulfill his dream of being a high school coach.”

Garwin especially thanked CHS athletic director Larry Busichio for his support for the past several years.