Steve Wilkinson Inducted 2009
In the fall of 1970, Steve Wilkinson joined the Gustavus faculty as a religion professor and sometime during that first semester on campus Athletics Director Lloyd Hollingsworth got word that Wilkinson had played Division I tennis at the University of Iowa. Gustavus was in need of a men's tennis coach and that next spring, Wilkinson was hired as the new coach for the Gusties. Little did anyone know that Wilkinson would build the Gustavus men's tennis program into the most successful program in the history of collegiate tennis over the next 39 years. After taking over the Gustavus tennis program in 1971, Wilkinson's teams compiled an overall record of 929-279 (.768) and a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) mark of 334-1 (.997). His 923rd victory, which came against Wartburg College last April, moved him past Jim Verdieck of the University of Redlands into first place with the most victories in the history of collegiate men's tennis (Divisions I, II, and III, and NAIA). During his career, Wilkinson's squads won two NCAA Division III titles (1980 and 1982), 36 MIAC titles, and posted 10 NCAA top four finishes. In addition, his players claimed six national doubles titles, and four national singles titles. He coached 46 players to 87 All-America honors (including current ATP tour player Eric Butorac), 103 players to 226 All-Conference honors, and five CoSIDA Academic All-Americans. Wilkinson was named NAIA National Coach of the Year twice (1974 and 1984) and Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division III Coach of the Year three times (1983, 2001, and 2003).
Recognized as one of the most prominent coaches in collegiate tennis history, Wilkinson has been involved in numerous national tennis organizations having served on the executive committees of the United States Professional Tennis Association, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, and the United States Tennis Association. He was inducted into the Iowa Tennis Hall of Fame in 1974, the Northern Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 1983 and the United States Tennis Association Missouri Valley Hall of Fame in 1999.
Wilkinson has also played a key role in the fundraising and construction of the College's tennis facilities, which are considered to be among the finest in the nation. Gustavus' first-rate facilities include the Gibbs Outdoor Tennis Center, the Brown Outdoor Tennis Center, and the Swanson Indoor Tennis Center. In the summer, Wilkinson and his wife, Barbara operate the Tennis and Life Camps on the Gustavus campus. The Tennis and Life Camps, are considered to be among the finest tennis camps in the country and have attracted thousands of young people to the Gustavus campus over the past 33 years. Steve and Barb, who live in St. Peter, are the parents of two daughters Stephanie and Deborah.