It is with heavy hearts that the Menlo community says goodbye to Lee Dale Allen, pioneer of the women's wrestling program and head coach for nearly a decade at Menlo College. Allen lost his battle with congestive heart failure today, passing away at the age of 77.
Allen was not only the inaugural head coach of the Menlo women's wrestling squad, but in 2001 his Lady Oaks were the only such program in any four-year college in the Western United States. The native of St. Francis, Kansas brought over 50 years of knowledge and experience into his Menlo tenure, one that began in 2001 and culminated after the 2009-10 season. In 2009 he was presented by the Women's College Wrestling Association as Coach of the Year.
"Today Menlo lost an incredible coach, but an even better person. Lee was one of the most amazing men I have ever know and I will forever be grateful for the time we had together," said Keith Spataro, current Director of Athletics and former men's wrestling head coach at Menlo College. "His impact on the sport of wrestling and more important the lives of every athlete he has exposed to the sport will forever be remembered. The entire Menlo community will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers."
With Coach Allen's wisdom and guidance, the Lady Oaks enjoyed tremendous success throughout his Menlo career. The program had over 20 wrestlers take home All-American honors and another four earn National Championships in the Allen era, including both of his daughters Sara and Katherine, two of the more storied Lady Oaks grapplers of all time. In addition to their incredible collegiate success, Sara won a U.S. Senior Open national title, and Katherine was a University World champion. Both daughters are resident athletes at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
"Words cannot describe the lost and love for Coach Allen, but I can tell you he accomplished so much and shifted every life he touched to be a better athlete and a better human being," said Monique Cabrera ('09), a four-year team captain under Allen. "On behalf of the Menlo College women's wrestling program and alumni, we love you Coach and will miss you, but we will never forget the global legacy you left behind."
Cabrera was just one of the many lives Allen touched during his phenomenal Oaks career. He leaves a legacy and a stamp on the program that extends to all that had the privilege of sporting Menlo blue and white. "He was a great man who supported the growth of women's wrestling and undoubtedly supported his daughters throughout their competitive journeys," said Brittany Caiole ('11), a three-time All-American under the guidance of Allen. "He will forever be the leader of the Menlo women's wrestling program, and I am grateful to be a part of the Menlo family that was coached by Coach Lee Allen."
Allen's impact spans beyond the depths of Atherton, with his legacy ranging worldwide as a legend in the wrestling world. He took part in two separate Olympic Games, taking part in each Olympic style. Allen was a member of the 1956 Olympic freestyle team at the Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, competing at 125.5 pounds. He also competed in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Italy, placing eighth in Greco-Roman at 134.5 pounds. After Allen's Olympic days were behind him, he was on the first U.S. team to compete in a World Championships, taking home a sixth place finish at 136.5 pounds in freestyle at the 1961 World Championships in Yokohama, Japan.
As a coach, Allen's imprint on the wrestling world was just as inspiring. He led the 1980 U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman team, which did not compete in the Olympics in Moscow, Soviet Union because of the U.S. government boycott of the Games. He also was head coach of four U.S. Greco-Roman World Teams: 1973 (Tehran, Iran), 1977 (Goteborg, Sweden), 1978 (Mexico City, Mexico) and 1979 (San Diego, Calif., USA). The 1979 earned a fourth place in the team standings in San Diego, with three individual medalists, one of the best Greco-Roman World performances of that time.
Yet with all of the overwhelming success as both a wrestler and coach, off the mat was when Allen might have been at his best. "Last night my dad said he'd go to coaches' service with me. I thanked him and he said, ‘of course, he helped raise my daughter and make the strong woman she's become,'" said Shareese Mulholland ('09), a four-year member of the Allen-led Lady Oaks.
Born on December 28, 1934 in St. Francis, Kansas, Allen and his family moved to Sandy, Oregon during the Dust Bowl in 1938. A star athlete in high school, Allen took home four state titles, and then excelled at the college level at the University of Oregon. Finally settling down in El Granada, California, Allen coached Skyline Collegein San Brunofor over 30 years, and helped start BAWA (Bay Area Wrestling Association), before becoming the first women's wrestling head coach at Menlo College.
Services for Lee Allen will be Saturday June 16th @ 10 AM.
Services will be held @ Community Methodist Church, Half Moon Bay, CA
In Lieu of Flowers, the family of Lee Allen would like any donations made to the Olympians For Olympians Relief Fund. http://www.oorf.org in his honor.