Marshall grew up in tough times in Frankfurt, PA, which is part of the
Burgettstown Area School District. Homer being the eldest sibling which
consisted of 3 brothers and 3 sisters was forced to quit high school and go
to work thus ending any chance of his own wrestling career. "When my father
passed away, mom said she needed help. That was pretty much it, I signed
out of high school and went to work."
Homers introduction to the sport of wrestling was becoming his two
younger brothers, Bob and Floyd's, biggest fan. Bob was crowned a PA State
Champion and Floyd a runner-up. Both brothers had phenomenal collegiate
careers with Bob becoming a 3- time Big 10 champ and 3- time Division 1 All-
American for Purdue. Floyd would become Findlay Colleges first NAIA
National Champion. Bob served as the head coach at Delaware Valley while
Floyd held the head coaching position at Norwin High School. Both brothers
were inducted into the PA High School Wrestling Hall of Fame with Homer in
attendance. Always there to support, always in the background, always
proud. "Being a competitive person you always wonder what you could of
accomplished if circumstances allowed, but God deals us all a hand and you
play it out as best you can. I have no regrets"
Homer recognized being surrounded by perennial powers such as Canon
McMillan, Trinity, Wash High, ect., that something was missing from the
Burgettstown Wrestling Program. That is when he and the late John "Sugar"
Zuccarro, co-founded the Burgettstown Cadets Youth Wrestling Program in
1961. "We recognized that other schools all had youth feeder programs and
we needed to establish our own to stay competitive. High schools started
wrestling before us, and we were already behind. We needed to catch up, and
the program took off immediately." Over the following years, Homer served
in a number of capacities within the cadet program. "I served as the
President, Director of Affairs, Head Coach, Assistant Coach, and continued
as a board member until retiring after 30 years in 2001. Throughout the
time as Cadet Head Coach, Marshall remembers names and faces of many
talented kids. However, one of his fondest memories was the 1981 team which
set a WPIAL record crowning 5 individual WPIAL champions. "I coached all
five of those kids in the cadets. Although each of them wrestled
completely different styles, they all had on thing in common, they knew
basic fundamentals." Those wrestlers, the fabulous five, returned home and
were honored at the Burgettstown Invitational Wrestling Tournament in 2002.
They traveled from different parts of the country to attend the reunion.
"That's what makes this such a great sport, you develop bonds, there is a
camaraderie. Those kids will be lifelong friends because of that night in
Charleroi High School. That is special."
Terry Havelka, the head wrestling coach at Burgettstown , recognizes the
significance of a strong youth program. "Integrating the cadet program has
made a huge impact on the success of our program over the years. Coach
Sedlak, Coach Nicollela, and myself have all benefited greatly from our
youth program. There has been a lot of talent that walked through the
wrestling room doors with the majority of those participating in our youth
Homer also served as an assistant Jr. High coach with Havelka years ago.
"Homer was always one to spend time with every kid in the room. He is
extremely intense and a great competitor. I can understand why he was close
to unbeatable in his distance running career."
Marshall was inducted into the Washington County Sports Hall of Fame in
2005 for distance running. "I enjoy the one -on- one aspect of wrestling.
It is much like distance running, you have to beat the guy in front of you.
Most of that occurs before the meet by training hard physically and
mentally. You are the guy out there, so you cant blame anybody but
You can still locate Homer at Burgettstown home matches and many
tournaments. Havelka says, with a chuckle, "He's still sitting in the same
spot, front row, wrestling every match in his seat."
This award was created to memorialize Dr. Kurt Nellis for his community
service and dedication to amateur wrestling. The award recognizes an
individual who has served their community through the sport of amateur
wrestling from Western Pennsylvania.
"When I was called, I was shocked. I thought I was being pranked. I
must say that I am truly grateful and honored to be selected for this
award. All of us who treasure the sport of wrestling know that it gets in
your blood and truly never leaves."
After forty seven years, Homer Marshall has proven his dedication to the sport of wrestling. The Burgettstown resident has been named the 2008 recipient of the Dr. Kurt Nellis Memorial Award.