CENTER — At the Wrestling State Tournament this winter the Colorado chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame took the time to acknowledge the 2019 inductees. Counted among them, San Luis Valley local John “Skip” McClure. When it comes to his philosophy on helping the sport of wrestling, McClure’s approach is a simple one: “Whatever needs to be done.”
That dedication to the sport over an officiating career that has spanned nearly 50 years is one very big reason McClure is being honored with a Lifetime Service to Wrestling award.
“I’ve always been in it for the sport and trying to help in any way I could,” McClure said. “My goal was always to just do whatever needs to be done. When we get a new Colorado Wrestling Officials Association (CWOA) president, I always tell them, ‘I’ll help do whatever I can to help.’ I kind of like to do stuff and not get attention for what I do.”
McClure has been very good at doing those things that have helped the sport - officiating, serving with the CWOA, and helping young officials get their start. He first began calling matches in Colorado in 1970 and has been on the business end of a whistle ever since.
“The thing that always attracted me to wrestling was the friendship around the sport,” he said. “Back when I started, when we’d finish a tournament, we’d go have some dinner and talk about it. We could always sit down and talk about the situations we’d had, get better and be with friends at the same time.”
A 1965 graduate of Center High School, McClure served five years in the Air Force. He first began officiating wrestling in Puerto Rico, then after a stint in Vietnam, he returned to the San Luis Valley and began officiating. He and his wife, Susan, still live in Center.
He soon became involved in the CWOA, serving as vice president and president. He also worked as an area director for 20 years, was an assistant assignor of officials, and also served on the committee to help rewrite the CWOA bylaws.
On the mat, McClure has worked all levels of district and regional tournaments, and also worked 13 state tournaments. At one point in his career, he considered retiring, and stepped away - only to return a year later. That was 24 years ago, and he’s still calling matches near his home. “The area doesn’t always have enough officials,” he said. “You help wherever they need you.”
Throughout his career, McClure’s officiating style has always been to make sure the match is determined by the wrestlers. “You have to let the wrestlers decide it,” McClure said. “That’s the most important thing. You can’t make a call where the wrong person wins the match. You never want that to happen.”
McClure today, takes pride in watching younger officials mature and knowing he’s had a hand in the process.
“I stay involved because when I first started officiating, everything we learned, we had to learn on our own,” he said. “As we moved along, then there were officials to help-other officials and help them learn. It’s been good to see how much we’ve changed and how everybody works together to make better officials.”