On Sunday, April 15, legendary Hill wrestling coach Frank Bissell '33 was inducted into the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in a ceremony held at the Hilton Hotel in Harrisburg, Pa. Coach Bissell, described in the event program as "a true pioneer in Pennsylvania long overdue for recognition," was one of seven men who were recognized with a "Lifetime Service to Wrestling" award. He will be permanently recognized at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Stillwater, Okla.
Mr. Bissell graduated from The Hill in 1933 after having captained the undefeated 1932 football team and claiming the inter-school wrestling championship, as wrestling was not a varsity sport at the time. He attended the University of Michigan and served as team captain in 1937, the same year he won the Big 10 championship at 155 pounds. He continued to wrestle after college, placing second in the 1940 Olympic trials and winning the 1946 AAU National Freestyle Wrestling championship.
In 1947, Mr. Bissell returned to The Hill and took over the relatively new varsity wrestling program. It did not take him very long to turn Hill wrestling into one of the nation's dominant high school wrestling programs. The 1948-49 team won the first of 17 Prep National Championships claimed during his 26 years as head wrestling coach. He produced 44 individual national champions, six of whom were named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler. In order to be the best prep team year after year, Coach Bissell sought the best opponents. He scheduled some of the top high school and college freshman teams in the area, and even took the team to Long Island to take on national power Mepham High School. Several alumni have noted that he did not build his teams by recruiting, but rather by taking raw, unknown talent and creating good wrestlers. His insistence that giving anything less than one's best effort was not enough instilled a championship mindset in the team -- and also provided a valuable life lesson for his athletes. He retired in 1973 with a career record of 214-62-4.
Thanks to the generosity and leadership of Walter C. Price, Jr. '66, the school was able to honor Mr. Bissell with the establishment of the Bissell Wrestling Endowment