2010_Dennis_Nelson4.jpgDennis Nelson grew up in Knapp, Wisconsin, and attended nearby Menomonie High School. While at Menomonie High he competed in football, wrestling and track. He was captain of all three sports as a senior and received the National W Club award, Following his graduation in 1971, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where he majored in Industrial Arts. Dennis was a four year starter in football and wrestled one year for the Blue Devils. Staying an additional year, he began work on his Masters’ degree and served as a graduate assistant for the football program.
After graduating from Stout in 1076, Dennis’s first teaching job took him to Woodruff High School in Peoria, Illinois; where he taught Industrial Arts and was an assistant coach in football and wrestling. His stay at Woodruff was short and he moved to Antigo, Wisconsin for the second semester. Near the end of that year, he accepted a teaching and coaching position at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School for the fall of 1977. The move to Rapids proved to be a great fit for Dennis and he has remained there for the past 33 years.
At Rapids, Dennis continued to teach Industrial Arts and coach football and wrestling. He started a Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle group which he led for 28 years. His work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes proved to be an important part of Dennis’s role at Rapids. He enjoyed working with many of the athletes on a spiritual level and found it very beneficial to his own spiritual growth.
One of the best things about the move to Wisconsin rapids was that Dennis was able to be a part of a great wrestling program and coach with Lewie Benitz, a very successful wrestling coach who happens to be his uncle. Denis was introduced to wrestling as a youngster by his Uncle Lewie and truly enjoyed the opportunity to coach together. Things got even better when Scott and Shane Benitz, his cousins, joined the staff. He considers it an honor to have been on staff for 18 of Rapids’ 19 state championships. Most people would recognize Dennis as the guy running around making sure all the mats, clocks and scorers are set up for tournaments, especially the WWF State Greco and Freestyle tournaments held at Rapids each year.
He also served as a WIAA official for several years during his tenure at Rapids.
Outside of wrestling, Dennis was recognized as the 2006 Assistant Coach of the Year by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association. He was selected twice as Teacher of the Year for Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools and received the Herb Kohl Fellowship award in 2001. Dennis served on the state board of the Wisconsin Technology Education Association from 1997-2007 and served as the president from 2004-2006.
Dennis and his wife Jane, along with their two daughters, Rachel and Veronica, live in Wisconsin Rapids.