Jay Borschel, winner of four state titles and a 163-1 record at Linn-Mar, took some time to answer some questions for us.
1. Ok– You graduated from Iowa in 2010. Went 98-10 while there and capped your senior season undefeated and NCAA Champ. What happened since then? What do you do now and tell us about your family?
I am married to Jillian, my partner of 14 years. We have three children, Milo 5.5 years, Wilhelmina 3.5 years and Morrison 1.5 years. We are a very active young family and have a wonderful home in Marion, Iowa. Managing a family has been one of the most difficult challenges to date as the transition from such an individualistic and selfish role doesn’t play nicely with what is best for a spouse and children. I am fortunate to have such an understanding wife who accepts my failures and challenges me to be my best. Professionally, I was hired by Stryker after graduation and began working in hospitals as a customer support specialist. I love working for the company as the values closely align with my time at Iowa (integrity, accountability, people, performance) and everyone exudes passion in their role. I currently work as a Regional Supervisor for our on-site service division and manage the operations and talent in the upper Midwest area.
2. I’m pretty familiar with a college wrestlers schedule… Morning workout, classes, an afternoon workout, homework, sleep, repeat. What is Jay’s schedule like today?
I occasionally have to travel for work, but on many days I work from my home office. Without a commute, this allows me a flexible schedule to get plenty of sleep, walk kids to school, workout, cook meals and have a ton of quality family time.
3. Someone ( Morningstar) told me that you always said “stay weird” What does that mean to you? Do you still “stay weird”?
I used to think it meant, do weird things and make people laugh. I suppose it was my outlet in a sport that is demanding and taxing on the mind and body. Today I’m more inclined to believe it means to think differently and be different than the status quo. I think it is important to question everything, speak up, go outside the area of what is assumed, try and fail and continually adjust. To be the best at anything, you have to be fanatical. You have to create an edge and do things that others cannot, will not or wouldn’t think about. The world’s most successful entrepreneurs, artists, and athletes don’t follow the playbook of those who came before them, they are creative, obsessive and willing to play in those areas of “risk” that others stay away from.
4. The NCAA has drastically changed the rules on transfers — not only in wrestling but many sports. As someone who lost a year of competition, how do you feel about the new rules?
I am not very familiar with these new rules; I’m very happy with the way my life has panned out and don’t for a second dwell on what happened. I am in support of rules that benefit student-athlete welfare so if the new rules allow the SA more flexibility to make changes that support their goals and graduate on time with a meaningful degree, more power to them! It’s easy to demonize the SA but we have to remember they are young people with limited experiences and an athletic department is full of adults and millions of dollars. If an SA has an issue with the program or institution, both parties are better off cutting ties as the young person has much more to lose. I think this keeps the focus and accountability on the institution/program to deliver the most engaging and enriching experience possible. The next rule I’d like the NCAA to change is to #freethesauna.
5. As a Junior you did not place at NCAA’s–then as a Senior you win it all and were undefeated. What changed that allowed you to have that success your Senior year?
The simple answer is that I finally was able to start translating the language of wrestling. I began to understand my skills and thought about my efforts in an elevated way. This gave a new found confidence as I moved from seeing the sport as mindless execution to a strategic art form. I was able to transition from the physical realm of doing what I was told to the spiritual and doing what I must for myself. I was only able to realize the smallest evolutionary understanding but grateful to see behind the curtain. A more difficult answer would find me explaining the necessity to stop making excuses and taking the easy way out. Maybe I picked easier partners than I should have. Maybe I only gave 95% effort. Maybe I was letting too many outside influences affect me. This was all true but until I confronted these issues and took control I didn’t see the final successes. Ask me on Twitter and I’ll elaborate further.
6. What’s your opinion of college wrestling today? It seems like more true freshman are winning national titles or are coming into college ready to compete with the best. What do you attribute that to?
The access kids growing up today have to wrestling is unprecedented. When I was growing up, if I wanted to interact with an Ironside, Williams or Gable I had to physically go to their competitions or camps (or record a meet on IPTV and hope the VCR didn’t eat the tape). In just a few short years the internet is over-saturated with whatever content you want to consume from wrestlers across the world. This has allowed young wrestlers to follow and communicate with their idols via twitter or watch whatever technique or style they desire. This coupled with more access to high-level training, not just in the hotbed pockets but nationally, you have eighteen-year-olds stepping on campus ready to win immediately. They’ve won age level world medals and have been training with the best for many years. These young guys step on campus and don’t need the same grooming as they used to.
7. If I asked to see your national championship bracket, where is it?
If you asked me a month ago, it was in a stack in the basement with my other brackets (the state brackets still reside there). I’m happy to report I recently hung it up in my home office! I’m the only one who looks at it but at least the dust is cleared, and it sees daylight.
8. Got any interesting Tom Brands stories? I always thought I heard them all until I ask someone new?
I’m sure everyone has heard most stories of relevance, but the memory that sticks with me most is from my freshman year at Virginia Tech. It was probably only the second or third week of school, and I was sitting in Sunday evening study hall when I saw Tom walk in and ask to take me out to the hallway. He educated me on the origins of the word “sin” and how in archery it defined the archer who was not hitting the bulls-eye. I had been sinning those first few weeks, and it was the first time in my life I can remember being humbled in a meaningful way. In the moment I was scared beyond description but ultimately realized I was not living up to expectations and if I wanted to succeed I needed to be constantly inspecting those expectations and goals I had. It is still a great moment for me to think back on and keeps the ego and current state aligned with expectations, priorities, and goals.