IN MEMORIUM: John Van Aalten
posted on 11/20/2008

John Van Aalten, who recently passed away at age 93, was a volunteer head coach at the West Side YMCA in NYC and was Abie Grossfeld's primary coach before he went to college. Under him, Grossfeld made the 1955 Pan American team and the 1956 Olympic team. Van Aalten also coached Pat Bird who placed 2nd on rings at the 1960 NCAA Championships who later served as the Head coach at the University of Minnesota (before Fred Roethlisberger).

Among numerous others, Van Aalten, coached John Pesha who won 24 National YMCA titles. In all, his teams won several YMCA National team titles. Van Aalten immigrated to the U.S. after World War II where he had served as a Commando. In 1940, he was primed to make the Netherlands Olympic team when WWII broke out and those Games were cancelled. He was a wonderful person and never was compensated financially for the 25 years that he spent coaching.