Bret Sharp of North Liberty, Iowa, began serving as a member of the Board of Governors of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018. He is the founder and owner of Sharp Investment Properties, which is involved in every facet of real estate, including high-end custom residential construction, residential remodels, commercial build outs, flips and long-term investment properties. Sharp wrestled at Drake University before it dropped its program, and he qualified for the NCAA Division I Championships at heavyweight as a sophomore in 1990 and as a junior in 1991. He transferred to Augsburg University and placed third at the NCAA Division III Championships as a senior in 1992. Sharp is a member of the Augsburg Athletics Hall of Fame.
Why is it important to be a part of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame?
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame is crucial to the wrestling community as it works diligently to preserve the sport’s history, recognize extraordinary achievements and inspire future student athletes.
It’s an exciting time to be on the board as I get to see the growth of the Dan Gable Museum and training center in Waterloo, Iowa. With this new center, we’re able to not only market to teams and individuals and reach coaches and student-athletes in a professional environment to foster their immediate growth, but also help them understand, acknowledge and appreciate the history of wrestling.
There’s always been a hidden brotherhood, an innate networking and family that underlies the wrestling community. It’s one that’s not matched by any other sport. I believe the National Wrestling Hall of Fame organizes us, brings us together and promotes the wrestling family through print media, online accessibility and two first-rate facilities in Waterloo and Stillwater, Oklahoma.
If you’re an old wrestler, a current coach or even a student-athlete, take time to visit one of these places to get a greater appreciation and love for our sport.
How did wrestling prepare you for the daily demands of your profession?
One of the biggest demands of being a successful builder and developer is creating an effective team, setting timelines and goals for each project, and holding people accountable. That’s how we build a high-quality product in a very efficient time frame.
I run my business like I would coach a wrestling team. Each of our sub-contractors is treated as an individual, yet they are expected to contribute and be a part of the greater success of the team. A majority of my sub-contractors are wrestlers, so they bring the intensity and focus needed.
What were your feelings when Drake University dropped wrestling after your junior season and why did you choose Augsburg University, a Division III program, for your senior year?
Anytime you have time and energy invested in anything it’s hard to see that be dismantled or discontinued. It was a very hard decision to leave Drake as a scholarship athlete, but it was the right decision for me.
Two of my teammates, Gary Kroells and Bill Gabler, were from Minnesota, and they had committed to Jeff Swenson at Augsburg. Augsburg had just won their first national championship and we were all very excited to be part of a team like that. After speaking with Jeff on the phone, I said ‘before I can commit to coming to your program, you are going to have to drive to Iowa and meet my parents.’ Without delay, he said, “I’ll be there.” My parents and I were extremely comfortable and impressed with his demeanor. It was one of the hardest yet most gratifying decisions in my life.
I’m proud to say that we were the first Division I guys to transfer to Augsburg, and be a part of building a dynasty program. Being a part of a highly successful program with continued long-term success is awesome regardless of the level. I think so many times kids are told that it has to be a Division I school or nothing, and I think that’s just an unhealthy way for coaches, parents and others to think about what is supposed to be a sport.
You collect unique wrestling memorabilia. What do you look for when you purchase a wrestling artifact?
I’ve always liked the story and the history of things. When I’m searching for collectibles, I look for not only the story but also the uniqueness of items. I have two of Dan Gable’s original high school warm-ups that are signed. His sophomore warm-up is signed “Dan Gable first state championship” and his senior year warm-up is signed it “Dan Gable 64–0.” I have a Jeff McNutt original painting of Rulon Gardner, a multitude of autographed original pictures and many other items.
Why was wrestling the right sport for you?
I don’t think there’s a more demanding sport then wrestling. I love the Dan Gable quote, “Once you have wrestled everything else in life is easy.”
The one-on-one competition, coupled with the extreme discipline of weight cutting, definitely gives you special skills that many people never develop. Becoming a successful wrestler gives you a mindset to tackle things head-on, gives you the focus to consistently work through the hard times for a goal and a never-die attitude for success.