CEDAR FALLS — Gene Doyle replaced one legend, and worked side-by-side with another for 40 years at Cedar Falls High School.
He probably never considered himself one, but many utter his name as one of the all-time greats in Cedar Falls High School athletics history.
Sunday, two years after the passing of Pat Mitchell, Cedar Falls lost another great one when Doyle, 77, died at the Cedar Valley Hospice Home in Waterloo after a short battle with cancer.
“He did so much for us,” Tiger athletic director Gary Koenen said. “Track, football, wrestling. All those years I saw him coach I never saw him yell or get mad at a kid. Very calm. He didn’t have a negative word to say about anyone and that was just Gene.
“He remembered every kid and tried to make sure every kid was successful in whatever they did.”
For 40 years Doyle and Mitchell paced the sidelines together at Cedar Falls helping the Tigers to 25 state playoff appearances and five state championship games in football.
“He and Mitch were hip and hip,” Koenen said. “Both passing so close together really is an end of an era for Tiger athletics. They were quite a dynamic duo.”
When he wasn’t assisting Mitchell on the gridiron. Doyle was one heck of a wrestling coach and that is where he stood out on his own.
The Toledo (Iowa) native played football at Iowa State Teachers College, before starting a coaching and teaching career at Keota for four years, Dubuque Senior for another eight before landing at Cedar Falls in 1974.
Doyle served as Hall of Fame coach Keith Young’s assistant for the wrestling team for 14 seasons, until taking over the head job in 1986.
The program continued to soar under Doyle as he compiled a 241-52 dual meet mark over 16 seasons, while winning traditional state championships in 1993, 1997 and 1998, posting six top-five finishes and also claiming the 1993 state dual crown.
Doyle coached 43 state medal winners, including 10 state champions. including one of Iowa’s 82 three-time state champions — Josh Budke (1995-97).
Doyle was inducted into the Iowa Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma in 2011, and he entered the Iowa High School Hall of Fame in 2012.
The Cedar Falls wrestling program, now headed up by a two-time Tiger state champion Michael Kelly, tweeted Sunday, “A great ambassador for the sport of wrestling & for#TigerNation. His legacy lives on through multiple lives he has touched.”