Saturday, August 9, 2014


Clearing clutter, I dig into a dusty cardboard box with crushed corners and splitting seams.  Tape, no longer sticky, dangles freely from edges.  The box contains mostly junk you might find at a garage sale.  A Barry Manilow cassette tape.  A deck of cards from the defunct Stardust Casino in Las Vegas.  A stack of unused greeting cards rubber-banded together.  I wonder why anyone would keep this rubble, and then I remember that anyone, is me.

I find a wooden plaque at the bottom of the box.  It reads:  FIRST PLACE 7TH GRADE INTRAMURAL WRESTLING.  ORINDA REC. DEPT.  There is no year, but I know the plaque is mine, and I know 7th grade was 1969.  I've stumbled onto my first wrestling award from my first wrestling event.  I pluck it out.  I sit down.  I hold it gently.  My work stops.

I was terrified to step on the mat that first time.  Now, as I look back through all my years of competing and coaching, I recall many very young wrestlers who were terrified the first time they stepped on a mat, got hammered, and quit the sport.  I was fortunate, somehow scoring 3 pins in that intramural tournament (bad wrestling always ends in a pin, doesn't it?), and wrestling stole my heart.  Forty-five years later, I'm still in love.

I consider all that I've experienced in 45 years as a wrestler and coach.  Countless relationships forged through the shared bond of wrestling.  Thousands of wins.  Untold losses.  An endless supply of stories locked in my past, waiting to be told:  Championships. Disappointments.  Wrestlers.  Managers.  Coaches.  Friends.  Marriages.  Births.  Deaths. Tragedy.  Hope.  Redemption.  Love.  All things that people experience, but for me, all viewed through a wrestling lens.

A simple, junior-high-woodshop crafted plaque.  A dart-hole suffered while hanging in a den, decades ago.  An illustration of an illegal slam, as two brief-clad men battle inside the ropes of a professional wrasslin' ring.  It seems silly, on its face.  But it's not.  It represents the genesis of my life in wrestling.  On that fateful day 45 years ago, had I been the one pinned, instead of the pinner, everything would be different.

We all have clutter.  We all keep cardboard boxes filled with junk.  Some of us may even be packrats, or worse, hoarders.  Why?  Maybe we all drag our clutter through life because somehow, down deep, we know our plaque is there, waiting to be uncovered.



by Cael Sanderson at

1. Foundation sport. Wrestling is the perfect foundation for all other sports. Wrestling is balance, agility, hand –eye coordination, flexibility, positioning, strength, speed, explosiveness, footwork, hustle, mental focus, mental toughness, core strength, concentration, competition, and endurance. Wrestling will make our youth better at all other sports.

2. Fun. Wrestling is a game. It is the most basic and instinctual game. Toddlers wrestle. The sport of wrestling is the ultimate competition where two individual take their individual strengths and match them up against . . . read more


This morning I went to the local grocery store wearing my favorite Hawykeye t-shirt.  A man, roughly my age and sporting a ball cap and thick 1970s style mustache, was leaving the store as I was entering.  He noticed my shirt and blurted, "Hey, Dan Gable . . . Iowa State!"  He flashed a quick, spirited grin, and was past me, headed for his pick-up.  

The man's statement caught me off guard and seemed entirely out of place.  I followed him with my eyes, wondering who he was, and how he lives in Washington and knows anything about Iowa, or Gable.

Dan Gable coached the Iowa Hawkeyes for more than 20 years, but he previously wrestled for Iowa State.  These facts are often confused by regular folks, or by casual wrestling fans outside of Iowa.  This fellow noticed my Iowa Hawkeye shirt, but cited Iowa State, assembling both pieces of the puzzle.  He must, I thought, have actual working knowledge of Gable, and his recollection was not just a random synapse firing on some ancient, mainstream Sports Illustrated story.

Washington once boasted 27 college wrestling programs.  We used to be like other states, where you could regularly encounter folks wearing worn out college wrestling shirts, or everyday guys with cauliflower ears.  We now have just one junior college wrestling team, and sadly, after a genocide of sorts, we are virtually cleansed of any reminders of our sport at the higher levels.

So, when a fellow in Washington says, "Hey, Dan Gable . . . Iowa State!" it suddenly takes me back to a richer wrestling time in our state.  It feels good, if only for a moment.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014


by Steve Cooper,

“More enduringly than any other sport, wrestling teaches self-control and pride. Some have wrestled without great skill—none have wrestled without pride.” ~ Dan Gable

Today’s workforce is extremely competitive. When comparing resumes it’s easy to get lost in all the bullet points of software literacy and past responsibilities. If you really want to separate two seemingly qualified employees, bring them in for an interview and ask a simple question . . . read more