By Tim HippsOctober 6, 2008
USA Wrestling, the national governing body for amateur wrestling in the United States, has named Van Stokes, Man of the Year.
Stokes, director of recreation and deputy director of morale, welfare and recreation at Fort Campbell, Ky.,
is the second vice president of USA Wrestling and represents the armed forces on USA Wrestling's board of directors.
"I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this recognition," Stokes said. "I am truly grateful for all the opportunities I've had to work with the dedicated leaders, coaches, athletes and volunteers in this organization. USA Wrestling embodies what is best about the Olympic spirit."
He received the award this summer at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
"This award is the highest honor we give within USA Wrestling," said Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling's director of communications. "It covers the entire gamut of the sport - from leadership to any other area where someone can make a major impact. Van Stokes has consistently been one of our strongest leaders and one of the most committed volunteers we have.
"He makes a difference in wrestling on a daily basis, and we're very proud to recognize all he's done for us," Abbott added.
Stokes is serving his second term as second vice president of USA Wrestling. He has also served two terms as the organization's treasurer.
At the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling, Stokes teamed with Takedown Wrestling Radio host Scott Sasber to call a live webcast with audio and visuals for NBCOlympics.com.
He has been active on numerous USA Wrestling standing committees, has served in leadership positions on international competitions, and was the U.S. Wrestling Team leader at the 1995 Pan American Games in Argentina and the Conseil International du Sport Militaire's 2007 Military World Games in India.
Stokes began working as a television sports announcer in 1990, covering different Olympic sports for ESPN, FOX, and other networks. He has handled numerous events for USA Wrestling, both for national television broadcasts and Internet webcasts, including the 1995 World Championships and several U.S. National Championships.
Stokes was an assistant producer for the World Wrestling Championships in 1995 and 2003, as well as the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
His first love as a teenager was baseball, but he was a 3-year letterman at running back for Marietta College's football team in the NCAA Division III Ohio Athletic Conference from 1967 through 1969.
"But I really have a joy for calling Olympic-style wrestling," said Stokes, who never wrestled because his high school did not have a team.
Tim Hipps works in the Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Public Affairs Office.