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Eastern Tech's Coach Joe Gast Inducted into Hall of Fame
He's a man for all seasons-sports, that is. On Tuesday, May 19  Joe Gast, championship coach at Eastern Tech, was inducted into Eastern Technical High School's Sports Hall of Fame. A pillar of Eastern Tech sports successes, Gast has taught Physical Education at the school for 37 of his 39 years in teaching. A graduate of Kenwood High School in 1965 and Marshall University in 1969, he later completed graduate work at Morgan. He spent his first two years at North Point Junior High School. During his tenure, he coached soccer, cross country, baseball, lacrosse, football, and wrestling, for which he is best known.  His baseball and soccer teams were Regional Champions (once for soccer and three times for baseball).  Gast was selected Baltimore County Baseball Coach of the Year in 1988.
At Eastern Tech Mr. Gast is

referred to, however, as “Mr. Wrestling” because under his leadership his wrestling teams recorded 300 wins and only 91 losses, a 70 percent win rate-just  in wrestling.  The wins include 7 County Championships (and placement in the top 4 for 15 times), three Regional Titles, and one State Championship (with 2 semi-finalists).  Other wrestling highlights include the following:  1975, Wrestling Officials Sportsmanship Award; 1984, Wrestling Metro Coach of the Year; 1987, Eastern Tech Ranked #1 in Metro Area; 1996, Baltimore County Wrestling Hall of Fame Inductee; 1998, Coached Senior All-Star Wrestling Team; 2000, Maryland State Wrestling Service Award; 2000, District 8 Regional Wrestling Coach of the Year; and 2008, Maryland and National Wrestling Hall of Fame Inductee.  The Baltimore Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame honored Mr. Gast with a Lifetime of Service Award to Wrestling in November.  Over 37 years, Gast coached 62 varsity seasons and 25 junior varsity seasons, a legacy hard to match.  A complete list of his individual and team accomplishments is too lengthy to include here.
    The Eastern Tech induction was appropriately held in Gym #1, where banners of Mr. Gast's many Maverick successes abound.  Before about 150 guests-his wife Lynn, his brother Wayne, daughter Jodi, their husbands and wives, grandchildren, current students, former students, former Athletic Director Dave Hoch (recently named Athletic Director of the Year), and many colleagues-Principal Evans introduced Mr. Robert J. Kemmery and Mr. Patrick S. McCusker, both former Eastern Tech principals, who gave testimonials.  Mr. Evans then introduced the presenter of the award, Mr. Joe Gast, Jr., Eastern Tech graduate in 1987 and Hall of Fame Inductee in May 2000.  Joe Junior stands as a testament to his father's mentoring:  while at Eastern he earned 11 Varsity Letters, played Varsity Football for 3 years, Varsity Baseball for 4 years, and wrestled on the Varsity Wrestling squad for 4 years. As a wrestler, his four-year record was 110-8 (his other awards are too numerous to mention).  Joe Junior also takes after his father in being a man of few words.  In handing his father the plaque, he said, “My father's list of accomplishments over his career says it all.  He coached 6 sports for almost 4 decades.  And he was always fair to all his players.  He was that special person whom parents wanted to coach their kids.  I am proud to be Joe Junior and even prouder to have him join Eastern's Sports Hall of Fame.”
    After a standing ovation, Gast said a few words: “First, I want to thank Mr. Evans, Athletic Director Larry Hall and Wendy Adams for arranging this. I am overwhelmed.  I have been so lucky to be associated with so many great people over the years-great principals and faculty.  It has made it easy for me to stand here.  Great people have made my coaching life easy.  I sincerely thank you for being here.”  Guests were then invited to share cake-one of two.  Decorations read:  “Congratulations Joe for 1st Coach Hall of Fame” and “Thank You for 37 Years at Eastern Tech.”    
    When asked about what factors contributed to so many successes during a private interview, Gast replied, “My personal belief is that working hard, maintaining focus, and instilling sportsmanlike values in team members are the keys.  Competitive sports provide wonderful vehicles to build character in young people.” (Anyone who knows Joe Gast knows that is a lot of words for him!)  In commemorating Gast, others had similar comments.  Eastern's current Principal Thomas G. Evans said, “Coach Joe Gast has certainly earned our admiration for his great sports record and his calm, soft spoken, and quiet leadership style that brings about solid results.  If one considers wins in sports other than wrestling, Joe has an impressive, 76% overall winning record.” 
Former Principal Robert J. Kemmery said this:  “When I arrived at Eastern in 1991, I knew I had a great teacher and coach in Joe Gast. Not only that, but I got two coaches for the price of one:  Joe's wife Lynn attended every event that Joe coached. I always enjoyed working with Joe because of the great job he did with students.  Also, I admired his commitment to his own family and community.  In a sense, he became surrogate father to a lot of Eastern Tech athletes.  I'd like to share one anecdote with you.  It was the County Championships at Franklin High School in 1997.  The talk after the last match was whether Dulaney or Owings Mills would be named county champs.  There was celebration from members of both teams.  I noticed that Coach Gast was smiling, and I asked him how we placed.  He said, 'We are the champs!' He always tabulated the points in his head and often knew the results before the official scorers.  He was right!”
  Former Principal Patrick S. McCusker quipped, “Joe never said much, but I always new that much was going on inside his head behind that quite demeanor.  I remember when his mother was going through a serious illness.  He was fully devoted to making her life comfortable.  That is the same kind of dedication he gave to his students.”
    Wayne Gast said of his brother, “I'm not too worried about Joe finding enough to do after he retires from teaching.  He still helps to coach Little League Baseball-many people don't know that baseball is his favorite sport-and he goes to almost all of his grandchildren's games.  I enjoy coaching with him.  He's strictly by the book-teach 'em the fundamentals.”
    Eastern Tech graduate Troy Parnell, Class of 1984 and Eastern Athlete of the Year, said of Gast, “I took off work to be here tonight.  I wouldn't have missed the induction for anything.  I was on the Varsity Football, Wrestling, and Baseball teams.  Mr. Joe was a true mentor.  He showed me the right path and served as a second dad to me.  I was a live wire, but he kept me headed in the right direction.  Much of my personal success I attribute to lessons that he taught.  That's how he was to his students.”
    Donald Morningstar, Sr., who attended the induction, provided an interesting note to the event.  “I was on Joe's first wrestling team in 1973.  The team didn't have a coach, so Joe volunteered.  He didn't know too much about wrestling at the time, but he gave it 100 percent, grew the program, and built a lot of championship wrestlers.  My son Ryan was a member of the last wrestling team Joe coached in 2006.  My son and I were bookends, so to speak, for Gast's wonderful coaching career.  He certainly deserves the award he received this evening.”