ENCINITAS — San Dieguito High School former wrestling coach Edward Cook Wiley died March 9. Wiley will be long remembered as one of those people who made an exceptional difference in the world around him.
Leadership can’t be book-learned, but how to wrestle apparently can. Ed Wiley served as an Army Ranger for three years and then attended UC Santa Barbara on the GI Bill to study physical education and play center and linebacker on the school’s football team. He graduated in 1957 and began teaching PE and coaching football at San Dieguito High School in 1958. When his athletes asked for off-season training, Coach Wiley established the wrestling program in 1960 to help them out.
“He’d never even wrestled,” said Dan Field, a former San Dieguito wrestler who returned after college to assist Wiley and then take over the program when Wiley retired in 1990. “He takes it out of a book and then goes on to win league championships.”
As a result of his teams’ success, Wiley was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (Lifetime Service Award) in 1997. He received a San Diego Hall of Champions Legends Award in 2005 and a Lifetime Service Award from the California Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2013.
“He led through love. He wasn’t a hollerer. He was patient and kind. He wasn’t a brutal guy, even though what he coached was like one-on-one combat,” said Field.
“It was super important to Coach Wiley to be a good role model,” Field added. Wrestling matches were a family affair, with Wiley’s wife Mary running the concession stand, daughter Ann Wiley Swan keeping score and stats, and son Scott wrestling for the Mustangs.
San Marcos accountant John Tucker wrestled for four years in the 1980s and credits Wiley with changing the course of his life. “I was that kid who wasn’t going to graduate. I was told I was a dummy my whole life. Coach Wiley told me that it’s not that you get perfect grades but that you try, and that if you try you can go anywhere. I was the first person in my family to go to college. Coach Wiley taught me to do my best and never give up on myself.”
Wiley was born July 10, 1929 to Robert and Cosette Wiley in Los Angeles, and passed away peacefully March 9 in Encinitas, surrounded by family. He is survived by his loving wife Mary Cazaly Wiley, children Scott Wiley (Gail) and Ann Swan (David) and grandchildren Courtney Swan, D.J. Swan and Jake Wiley. A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m. April 2 at St. Mark Lutheran Church, 552 S. El Camino Real. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Elizabeth Hospice (elizabethhospice.org) or AMVETS (amvets.org).