Gary Dolloff has a keen understanding that being a role model and having a strong sense of community comes with the job of coaching high school sports. 

Mountain Valley High School coach Gary Dolloff hugs one of his wrestlers during a meet. Dolloff, who has two decade-long stints leading the Falcons, will be inducted into the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame later this week. Submitted photo

His passion for coaching the Mountain Valley High School wrestling team has not gone unnoticed.

Dolloff will be inducted into the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame on Saturday at Mast Landing Brewing Company in Freeport.

Dolloff, 58, will be joining two other inductees — Dan Del Gallo and Kevin Gray.

Del Gallo wrestled at Gardiner Area High School, where he earned three state crowns and compiled a career record of 194-11. He then wrestled at the University of Southern Maine and before graduating in 2017 he had qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament and won the 149-pound national title.

Gray, a Noble High School graduate, earned state titles at 103 and 112 pounds in 1997 and 1998, respectively. He wrestled at Division I Duquesne University. Recently, as Noble’s head coach, he has led the Knights to two Class A state titles and a duel meet state championship.


Dolloff, who served in the U.S. Army’s infantry for three years, said the induction means a great deal to him. He feels it is the highest honor to join the wrestlers and coaches who have contributed to the sport in Maine. 

“It is something you never expect,” Dolloff said. “I am totally at a loss of words. When they gave me the call, I broke down in tears. I am so proud. My biggest thing is I am proud that I have a family of wrestlers. I have had brothers who coached in wrestling around the state. 

“There were probably 11 or 12 of us that wrestled. When you came to Rumford, there was a pretty good chance you were going to wrestle one of the Dolloffs. I want my family’s name to be there. Having this honor is going to put my family where I think it belongs.”

Dolloff is also the manager of the Greater Rumford Community Center and coach of the Mountain Valley softball team.

Dolloff, a big man with a bigger heart, enjoys putting in the hours for his community and the athletes. 

“I got done last year (with) middle school football. I have done that for 30 years also,” he said. “I was doing three sports for about 37 years.” 


Dolloff wrestled for the old Rumford High School and that passion for grappling has never left him. 

“So when I was a kid, I have a huge family, and when I was a kid I watched one of my older brothers (Chet) wrestling at the high school,” he said. “It was a tournament … and I started watching it and he actually won the tournament. … From that point on I was so into wrestling. It is a one-on-one, hand-to-hand combat and it is just you and the other guy, and no one is out there that can help you.” 

Dolloff coached the Falcons wrestling team from 2001 to 2011 and then stepped away from the sport and returned to coaching wrestling in 2013, and he has been at the helm ever since. 

Mountain Valley coach Gary Dolloff, left, with Anthony Mazza Jr., middle, and Falcons assistant coach Anthony Mazza Sr. after the younger Mazza earned his 100th career win in January 2020. Submitted photo

“We won a state championship in 2011,” he said. “I was retiring but I knew that I was going to come back at some point. But I took a little break and needed to recharge and come back a couple of years later.”

The longtime coach has had great success on the mat.

Under his leadership, the Falcons brought home three Class B State Championships — in 2005, 2006 and 2011 — and he compiled a career dual meet record of 324-47. Over the past 20 years, he mentored 32 individual state and 72 regional champs. Along the way, he copped Maine Wrestling Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2011. He also collected 10 regional team crowns and nine Mid-State Conference team championships.


“Gary being inducted in the HOF (Hall of Fame) is a no-brainer to me,” Mountain Valley Athletic Director Jeff Pelletier said. “His resume speaks for itself, but his impact has gone well beyond state championships. He has positively impacted so many lives in the River Valley and has really left a lasting impression on the sport of wrestling in our state. You can see that when you look at how many high school, middle school and youth coaches have come through Mountain Valley and learned from him.”

Dolloff also coached the Mountain Valley Middle School wrestling team from 1987 to 2002, his team’s winning seven Pine Tree League titles during that stretch.

He said he recognizes that coaching has changed over the years, and no longer can a coach take an old school, tough-as-nails approach to young athletes. 

“You have to change along the way because because kids are changing. … You are not going to get the response that you are looking for,” Dolloff said. “These kids need to know that someone cares about them and someone actually loves them, and someone is going to go to bat for them. A lot of them don’t have that at home. For me (coaching has) become such a learning tool for life, also.” 

He is impressed by the number of kids who continue to return to wrestling and want to be “part of something.”

“We are one of the smaller schools and we had 27 kids come out, which is a good number,” Dolloff said, referring to Mountain Valley’s 2022-23 team. “Women’s wrestling is going to become huge here. I can tell you that right now.”


Pelletier said that athletes coached by Dolloff know they have someone in their corner — on the mat, on the field, and beyond.

“His biggest strength as a coach is the connections he makes with his athletes,” Pelletier said. “He builds relationships that last well beyond high school. Anyone that watches him coach, and sees him interact with his athletes, can see how much he cares for every single one of them.”

Dolloff said that coaching at Mountain Valley has been an honor. 

“As far as a benchmark, me being the head coach at Mountain Valley High School was humbling and it was just beautiful. I got to coach at my alma mater … (My induction) will be the highest honor I have received,” Dolloff said.

“I just want to thank my grandparents (Chester and Mariette Dolloff). They both passed away, but they took us in when my mom passed away and raised us. I know they are proud of me.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.