FEB. 6 OFF THE MARK COLUMN — MARK SPENSLEY, CO-PUBLISHER
If you’ve spent any amount of time in a wrestling room, especially in this great state, you know who Dan Gable is. Unless you’ve been living in a hole for the past 40 years, you probably know who Dan Gable is, regardless if you are a wrestling fan or not.
Last week I had the opportunity to listen to coach Gable speak at the Monticello Chamber Banquet, and to say I was excited to be in attendance would be an understatement. I have been looking forward to this since the day it was announced.
You see, coach Gable is my hero. So much so that when I first took up wrestling in grade school, I tried to take on his persona. While I didn’t do him justice by any means, I finally felt like I had a sports hero in my life I could look up to.
I first learned about coach Gable in sixth grade, but didn’t really understand much about him until middle school. I was a small and unconfident kid growing up, scared of my own shadow. I discovered myself through wrestling. The more I wrestled the more confident I became in myself.
Being in the wrestling room as a seventh-grader felt like being at Disney World. It became a mystical place for me, a place where I could compete and be successful with my peers, even the guys who where bigger than me.
I wrestled the smallest weight class that year and most of my workout partners were guys in the two or three weight classes above me.
Often I pretended to be Dan Gable when mixing it up with the heavier wrestlers and I would imagine that’s what he did to get better.
As I entered high school my thoughts were always about wrestling for coach Gable and the University of Iowa. What I didn’t realize at the time was how hard I would have to work in order to achieve that goal.
And as I started maturing and moving on through my high school career, those goals started taking a back seat to other distractions. Friends, girls and weekend shenanigans started to take precedence.
One thing coach Gable talked about last week was the amount of time he put into his sport to get where he is. He estimated he had worked out over 10,000 hours before his first collegiate meet. Can you imagine?
I can assume that I probably wasn’t talented enough to wrestle at the level of Division 1 in college but I will always wonder why I didn’t put in the effort and the time to attain my goal.
Why did I get so easily sidetracked? Why didn’t I take the one thing in life I was really good at and take it to the next level?
I don’t have many regrets in life but the one that has stayed with me all these years is I didn’t work hard enough to give myself a chance to get to the next level. To wrestle for coach Gable, to run through brick walls for this man I have so admired.