Casper native Jerry Quinlan has been selected to receive the Casper College Alumni Association’s 2020 Distinguished Alumni award.
Quinlan is well-known in not only the Casper community but also the state of Wyoming, particularly in wrestling, both as a competitor and coach. During his senior year in high school, Quinlan earned the Wyoming State Champion Outstanding Wrestler Award.
Following a four-year stint and honorable discharge from the United States Air Force in
1958, Quinlan returned to Casper, where he enrolled at Casper College. While at Casper College, Quinlan was a member of the wrestling team.
Quinlan, who received a bachelor’s degree in social studies from San Jose State College, began his teaching career in 1961 at East Junior High School in Casper. A year later, Quinlan joined the teaching staff at Natrona County High School, where he taught English and history. While at NCHS, he also served as the department chair of the social studies department, was the activities director, and coached not only wrestling but also football and track.
Randall Hall, who attended NCHS in the early 70s, clearly remembers Quinlan as an influencer and mentor. During the 1971-72 school year, Hall was student body vice president, and Quinlan was the student council advisor. “While Mr. Quinlan was widely known for his coaching ability, his influence on me as an advisor and mentor helped me become the father, husband, and professional I am today,” said Hall. “I can only point to a few men who have impacted my life in equally positive and beneficial ways. There are teachers who teach, and there are teachers who lead. Jerry was definitely one of the latter,” Hall noted.
In addition to his excellence in the classroom, Quinlan racked up a string of impressive statistics as a wrestling coach at NCHS, including an overall record of 126 wins, 15 losses, two ties, five regional championships, two state runner-up titles, and four state championships. During his time as a wrestling coach, Quinlan was named the Wyoming Coaches Association Wrestling Coach of the Year three times, established the record of most consecutive dual wins, 35, in Wyoming wrestling, coached 22 individual state champions, and was inducted into the Wyoming Coaches Hall of Fame in 1984.
Current NCHS Mustang’s football coach and teacher Steve Harshman first met Quinlan in 1991 when Harshman began his career at the high school. “I have known Jerry since I first started at NCHS, and his leadership and knowledge were evident through his intentional work and planning. He builds people up, is not afraid of hard work, knows what needs to be done, and is not afraid, to be honest. He always put people first. He is a doer and a winner, and a gem of Casper and Wyoming,” said Harshman.
In evidence of his qualities as a leader and coach, the Quinlan Trophy was established in his name and is awarded yearly to the outstanding wrestler at NCHS.
Quinlan will be presented with the Distinguished Alumnus Award during Casper College’s 2020 commencement ceremonies Friday, May 15.
The Distinguished Alumni Award winners are nominated by their peers and chosen by the board of directors of the Casper College Alumni Association.