CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – It’s been 20 years since Dan Gable was the University of Iowa’s head wrestling coach, 20 years since the beginning of what Gable calls the promotional phase of his life.
“I wrestled competitively, I coached competitively, and now I promote competitively,” he said.
What Gable mostly promotes, besides his own books, is amateur wrestling. He says he has about 50 speaking events a year. Circumstances took me to one of them last week, in Cedar Rapids.
Gable was there as a motivational speaker. Nearly all of what he draws on is people-related and/or wrestling-related.
Something that stood out to me during his 45-minute address was his strong desire to see girls’ high school wrestling get sanctioned as a high school sport in Iowa and every state.
In a follow-up phone call Tuesday, Gable freely admitted he wouldn’t have felt the same about that issue 20 years ago.
“It took me quite a while to understand it and become convinced,” he said. “Some of my best friends and some of my former wrestlers were put in roles of coaching females, and I got in a lot of conversations with them.”
His eventual reaction to girls competing in what had long been a males-only sport:
“Wow, it’s a good thing. It’s pretty fantastic, actually.”