It’s More than Just Wrestling


I am often asked why I volunteer my time to the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. Why and am so passionate?

That’s easy:

I get to watch Thomas Gilman win a World Silver…
Or I get to watch the HWC athletes work out…
I get to see the HWC help the collegiate team!
That’s exciting right?

Last week put a couple things in perspective for me.

We planned the HWC Des Moines Golf Outing for months. Many people came together to acquire sponsors and organize teams.

The result was a record setting golf outing. The entire coaching staff attended. Almost all the HWC wrestlers came out to Des Moines. Bob Nicolls, the gentleman who has promised a large donation for the new wrestling facility, was generous enough to join us.

Coaches Brand(s) and Perry announced the newest HWC athlete: Boris Novachkov.

Hard to get better than that…  But it did.

I received a random email from a mother in Indiana. Her son Connor’s 8th birthday is coming up. He wanted to send a party invitation to Thomas Gilman, but didn’t know how to reach him…

I gave her the address. I also asked her to email me a copy of the invitation…

Here is the invitation:Connor’s Birthday Invite

When it came through, I was on the Golf Outing with Thomas. I showed him the invitation and he was blown away…

He had a huge grin… He had to look at my phone twice… All he could say was, “Wow”.

I’m not an athlete, I will never know what it’s like to be looked up to in that way… But standing next to Thomas as he looked at that invitation.  I FELT IT!!

I thought back to that question that people ask me all the time… “Why do you volunteer all this time to the HWC?”

I want to make sure that the fans of HWC can help wrestlers like Thomas be hero’s to young kids.

So after the outing I reached out to Connor’s Mom again. I asked why her son was a fan of Thomas Gilman?

Here is what she wrote:

“…Connor is obsessed with wrestling… but Thomas solidified his spot as Connor’s favorite at Big Tens this past year. Our tickets were in the Penn State section. We had Penn State shirts on. When Connor asked Gilman for his autograph he gave Connor a hard time about his shirt. But he gave Connor an autograph and posed for a photograph. Connor mailing his birthday invite to Thomas…  

When we walked away Connor said, “When you were taking the picture Thomas was squeezing my neck. He just kept squeezing it Mommy.”

I looked at him and he had the BIGGEST, goofiest smile. He said, “That was pretty much the best thing that ever happened to me”.

I said, “Thomas Gilman picking on you is the best thing that’s ever happened to you?”

He said, “Yep, it was awesome!” And he laughed and laughed.

Since then he’s been obsessed. He has watched every match Thomas has ever wrestled. He got up at 4am to watch him in at World’s before school. He even saw a video clip that was showed the brand of sandals Thomas wore. Connor traded his gold tennis shoes for brown sandals… to match his hero: Thomas Gilman.” Connor and Thomas at the Big Tens…

That’s why we do what we do. For the HWC, for Thomas Gilman, for the Fans and Alumni, and for little wrestlers like Connor.

It is more than wins and losses.

Feels great to be a Hawkeye Fan!!

If you are a current HWC donor–Thank you very much. If not, please consider it. The HWC is a not for profit 501(C)(3) .Help us provide resources for our athletes so people like Thomas Gilman and others can pursue their dreams and be heros to many!


Click Here to Donate


Randy Novak, President Hawkeye Wrestling Club

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