Grappling with Outdated FacilitiesPosted Oct. 5, 2010
Bill Drypolcher wasn’t just a two-time varsity letter-winner at 160 pounds; nor was he just a Mid-American Conference wrestling champion in 1966.
He was also the guy who cleaned the mats before practice.
The 1967 graduate of the College of Business Administration came to Kent State because legendary 42-season coach Joe Begala “gave him a chance.”
“I was not a state champion, and he brought me to school by giving me my out-of-state tuition and room and board, and I was thrilled at that,” Drypolcher says. “And every year, as I got better and better, he gave me more. And I was thankful for that. I came from a very middle-class family, and they probably could afford one guy in school, but they had four.”
So when he needed more income to make ends meet, Begala offered him that job cleaning up. “I had to do what I had to do,” Drypolcher says. “And so I felt I got a lot out of that and my experience at Kent State.”
After graduation, Drypolcher was drafted into the military, where he served in Vietnam and became a U.S. Army Ranger School instructor. But it was upon his discharge in 1970 that his career took shape. After earning an his M.B.A., he moved with his wife, Trudy, to San Francisco, a city he’d fallen in love with after visiting a fraternity brother who lived in the area.
By 1978 he’d earned a real estate license and launched Zephyr Real Estate, which began with four people and now comprises six offices with 270 employees — the largest independent Realtor in the city, with $1 billion in yearly sales.
For decades, Drypolcher found himself disconnected from Kent State. But that changed after a visit from university athletics officials — and the launch of www.kentstatesports.com, the official website of the Golden Flashes, where he keeps up with his former team.
“I follow Kent State on the Internet. It’s a good tool — I don’t need to be there all the time,” he says, noting it’s considerably more convenient when compared to his last visit for the MAC wrestling championships, when 22 inches of snow fell.
Tracking the team on the Web has given him high regard for Wrestling Coach Jim Andrassy, who he felt had potential to make the Flashes into a nationally ranked team. And through visits and conversations with the coach, Drypolcher learned he could assist in that effort.
“Bill stepped forward as the lead contributor to two important projects: renovations to the wrestling room and locker room,” Andrassy says. “Those improvements have aided our recruiting efforts, which, in turn, have boosted our national profile and performance.”
Indeed, in the past two seasons, the Kent State wrestling team has placed in the top 25 at the NCAA tournament. And watching the program’s success has led Drypolcher to increase his contributions to the team and the university’s Centennial Campaign — most recently in the form of a $500,000 bequest to fund a wrestling endowment, which he also hopes will encourage other alumni to give back.
“The important thing is I feel good about helping the kids and the coaches and the school,” he says, “because they were there for me.”
This story originally appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of the Kent State Magazine.