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Kirby Symes

Kirby Symes graduated from River Falls High School in 1947. He received a B.S. Degree from Wisconsin State College River Falls in 1951.  That year he took a teaching job at Prescott High School. Besides teaching history he served as an assistant in football and basketball and head track coach.  Under Kirby, Prescott track teams won three straight conference championships.

In the fall of 1954, Kirby moved to Ellsworth High School as head football and track coach and social studies teacher. In 1957, it was decided to add another winter sport. Wrestling was selected and Kirby was named head coach. Kirby was instrumental in establishing Ellsworth wrestling as a state renowned powerhouse. He decided in 1960 to give up football and then started a successful cross country program producing two 3rd place team finishes at state.

In 1961 he became the Director of Athletics which he held until 1988. During the 1970’s much of the time was spent implementing girls’ sports programs with the help of a fine athletic staff at Ellsworth. Kirby retired from Ellsworth in 1989 after 35 years of service.

After retirement, Ron Wunrow RFHS Athletic Director talked Kirby into working with the then infant Sports Medicine Program. Much of this was in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin River Falls. Kirby is still connected with this program which is now staffed by a certified Athletic Trainer. Kirby continues to serve as a track and field official and has been associated with USA Track and Field. He has worked with NCAA Division I and III meets. Kirby has served as a field referee in two national meets and Chief Umpire in one national meet. He has been the field referee for the WIAA for 32 years.

In Kirby’s many years of service to athletics and the community he has received several honors including the following:  Charter class member of the George Martin Wrestling Hall of Fame, Induction into the University of Wisconsin – River Falls Athletic Hall of Fame, and A Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Kirby and his wife Ty live in River Falls in “retirement” He serves as chairman of the River Falls Library Foundation and the Historical Preservation Commission for the City of River Falls.  He also continues to work on the All-American - Walk of Fame in River Falls High School Athletic Hallway