Nate Carr of Ames, Iowa, began serving as a member of the Board of Governors of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2019. Nate, a Distinguished Member inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003, is currently an associate director at the Cyclone Regional Training Center in Ames, Iowa.
He was a Pennsylvania state champion, a three-time NCAA champion and a two-time Big 8 champion for Iowa State University. He was also a three- time Freestyle National Champion. Nate won a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics and represented the United States in two World Championships.
He was an assistant coach at West Virginia University and was named National Assistant Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association in 1991. He was a pastor in Georgia, building a thriving ministry while Nate Jr. Wrestled for Jones County High School. Nate become the Director of Wrestling at Prodigy Training Center and the Nate Carr Wrestling Club in Ohio. He trained and developed champions on every level with Olympic, MMA fighters, college, high school and grade school wrestlers. Nate coached at Perry High School in Massillon, Ohio, from 2015 to 2018, where his son, David, was a four-time state champion and the national winner of the Hall of Fame’s Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award in 2018. David is currently a freshman at Iowa State. Nate’s oldest son, Nate, Jr., was the Georgia winner of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award in 2006 before becoming a National Junior College Champion at Iowa Central Community College and a two-year starter at Iowa State. Nate, Jr., is currently an assistant coach for Lock Haven University.
Why is it important to be involved with the National Wrestling Hall of Fame?
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame speaks to the life of this sport and everything involved with wrestling. It reveals our history through the greats and the foundation they have laid. It’s important to continue the legacy of excellence for our future Hall of Famers, both men and women. It also recognizes and shows appreciation for those who have contributed to wrestling, not only competitors but also coaches, officials and those off the mat.
You wrestled under legendary coach Harold Nichols, a Distinguished Member inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978, at Iowa State. What is your fondest memory of him?
Coach Nichols is a man that loved the sport. He gave his life to wrestling and producing champions in life. I remember the confidence he had in me.
My freshman year I was ranked fourth going into the national championships. I was excited about it. I wrestled Roger Frizzell, who is also a member of the Hall of Fame’s Board of Governors, from Oklahoma during the quarterfinals of the NCAA championships. I was leading 5-1 and ended up getting spladled and lost, 13-6. I finished the match but I could hardly walk. In the consolation round to place and be an All-American, I lost in overtime because I cross-faced my opponent too hard and was penalized for unnecessary roughness.
Leaving the auditorium that day it was just Coach Nichols and I. I said, “You know, Coach, I’ll win this next year.”
Without pause or hesitation Coach Nichols said, “I know.” Then we went and ate. It was so matter-of-fact. After that I won three NCAA titles. It’s the small things.
There was a saying when you competed that you were the fastest “Carr” people had ever seen. How fast were you?
People that wrestled with my brother Jimmy would send messages to me saying that Jimmy was faster — that put me in good company. That was definitely part of my strategy because I could use my speed and I could use my quickness to defeat my opponents.
Dan Gable’s high school coach, the legendary Bob Siddens, a Distinguished Member inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980, was the referee when I was wrestling a match against the University of Northern Iowa. Siddens yelled at me during the match and said, “Nate, slow down. You are moving too fast.”
Your wife, Linda, made quite an impression at last year’s Honors Weekend in Stillwater, Oklahoma. How would you describe your wife?
She is an awesome woman. I am always proud to have her accompany me anywhere I go. She loves people and encourages everyone in their gifts and talents. She doesn’t know a stranger.
Every champion needs a cheerleader and Linda was my cheerleader. When I was going for my third national championship she made a little book for me and it said, “On your way to your third national championship.” I read that along with other quotes that I liked. My wife was a big part of my success because she encouraged me and believed when others may have doubted. She is an unbelievable woman.
Your son, David, currently wrestles for Iowa State. What’s the difference between wrestling today and wrestling when you competed?
Social media has a lot to do with it. In my day you could hear about who won within 24 hours. Today you can watch matches in real time and see results as they unfold. Also, you can read what people are saying about you instantly. It’s a whole new world and I think that has an impact and affects athletes and their performance. In my day you could watch tapes, but it was not always accessible. Today, access to matches is much easier. It impacts how you scout and compete against your opponents.
Either way, competition is competition. Even now, you have to be ready to show up and make the adjustments. It’s still mental. It’s still physical. It’s still spiritual. Those three things need to match up – the mind, body and spirit – to hit a peak performance. It comes down to the reality that you have to step on the mat regardless of what was said and seen and be ready to give your best.