Where are they now? Terry Steiner

1. Let’s roll back the clock — I think it might have been your sophomore year–  You had to beat an All American… Tell us about that– My first thought is there was some fantastic depth on that team.

​We knew when we entered the Iowa Room that nothing was going to be given to us!  When Coach Gable came up to Bismarck, ND to recruit Troy and me, he made it very clear that he was not going to promise anything to us.  He talked about the Iowa Program, “I’m not going to promise you anything. It is going to be hard to make the team. It is going to be harder to be an All-American. And it is going to be even harder to be a National Champion. The fact is… Most of it is going to be up to you!  We can give you an environment, workout partners, guidance, and knowledge, but the sooner you realize that most of this will be up to you, the better off we all will be.”

As an 18-year-old kid, that is a little bit scary, but it was the TRUTH and that is what we appreciated about Coach Gable. He is a straight-forward guy.  We knew what we were getting into. We wanted to be around people that were going to raise us up and help us grow. But we knew it was not going to be easy or fun all the time.

Doug Streicher was my teammate!  I knew Doug was the person between the starting team and me.  He was the challenge that I needed. It was not comfortable, but it was what raised my level of wrestling to where I could compete.  Now as a 49-year-old man looking back, I thank god for putting Doug in front of me. If it wasn’t for Doug, I don’t think I would have become a National Champion at Iowa.

So many times, we want to hide from tough situations in life. But the truth is that being in tough situations and being uncomfortable is the only way to grow.  You cannot live your life in a comfortable zone and expect to grow. When you want to live a life like that, it is time to move on to the next chapter.

2. What was the mindset coming into Iowa and knowing it wasn’t a given that you would be a four-year or even three-year starter?

​I do not think it was on our mind much at all.  We knew that if we wanted to be the best at the time that Iowa was the place that we needed to be.  Again, we knew nothing was a given.

We knew that our philosophy on training and preparation was a mirror image of what the Iowa Philosophy was.  We didn’t know anyone. We were closest to Randy Lewis, Brad Penrith, and Greg Randall when we arrived in Iowa. We knew for a fact that how we went about our business was welcomed in that program.

3. I had heard that you and Troy liked to be the first ones in the wrestling room every day. What time did you have to get up your freshman year to accomplish that? Who were you racing?

​We both had 7:00 am class, so we were working out by 5:00 or 5:30 am every day so that we could get our workout in before we started the academic day.

We were not racing anyone!  It was all we knew. We knew we were not where we needed to be… To get to that point we needed to WORK.  We weren’t trying to impress anyone or anything like that. It was just what we knew… So that is what we did.  

I think a lot of people thought we were crazy. Maybe we were. But this is a crazy life. Having a goal of being an NCAA Champion for a couple of kids from ND is perhaps a crazy goal.  Sometimes in life, it is ok to be crazy. You never have to apologize for trying to be the best at something. NEVER!

Some people won’t understand it, but that’s ok.   You need to follow your path! Let coaches guide you, but at the end of the day, you have to take matters into your own hands.  Nobody can win the match for you when you are in the middle of that fight!

4.  Two sets of twins on the same team- what was that like? Did you room with your brother every year?

We had three sets: The Brands, The Mangrums, and the Steiners.  We also had the Streichers, who were brothers. I guess I never thought that much of it.  I never knew what it was like to not be a twin, so it seemed normal to me.

I remember a dual meet at the University of Minnesota our Junior year 1991-1992.  After the dual meet, there was a big snow storm. We had to fly back to Iowa City for a dual meet against Wisconsin.  Coach Gable would only let one Brands and one Steiner fly on the plane because he said if it goes down, he didn’t want to lose all of us.  So in Iowa Fashion we Rock, Paper, Scissored for it. If I remember right, it was both Terry’s on the flight. It was such a rough ride with so much turbulence that the only person that got any sleep on it was Tom Ryan. He slept like a baby, while the rest of us were throwing up the entire flight.  Troy and Tom slept like babies in the van ride back to Iowa City.

Troy and I roomed together every year.  We were very close; we still are. It is not only that we roomed together, but we shared the same bed!  A water bed!! …Until we were seniors in college. We did not think anything of it. It was how we grew up, seemed very normal to us.  Looking back, it probably seemed odd to many of our teammates, but to us, it was all we knew.

5. Who were your workout partners on a day to day basis? What wrestlers were in the HWC while you were there?

​That was the main reason we came to come to Iowa. We had great workout partners every day.  There was never an easy day in that room. I will try to list them. I will miss some of them, but they all played a huge part in my success. I want to thank them all: John Heffernan, Darryl Weber, Bill Zadick, Mark Reiland, Tom Ryan, Tom and Terry Brands, Mike Uker, Aaron Aure, and Eric Koble.

Then you had Randy Lewis, Brad Penrith, Greg, and Steve Randall, Mitch Kelly, and Scott Williamson.  Those guys just played with me for a long time. And of course Royce Alger, but he said he never used his weight?  They all were great mentors, sometimes you learn what to do from them, and sometimes you learned what not to do.

6. I recently heard a story from Tom Brands about how long it took him after he arrived in Iowa City to get a takedown on Randy Lewis… It was a long, long time. (For the record Lewboo says it was at a pig roast. He had 15 “soda pops’, it was in the grass, and it was raining. He was up late the night before etc.) Tom doesn’t disagree, but he maintains it was still a takedown. With that said, tell us about the time you got your first takedown against a really good wrestler in the Iowa room?

​I know it took TOO LONG!  I cannot remember when that moment was, but I do remember getting my tail kicked a lot.  There were many days I had doubts if I was ever going to accomplish what I wanted to.

One weekend that made a significant impact on me was during an Iowa Football weekend.  I came in for a workout with Greg Randall, who at the time had moved to Minnesota to be a part of J. Robinson’s staff. Greg was still training for the USA Team.  Greg and I went through the entire workout, and Coach Gable just happened to walk in and watched 3/4 of the practice. Afterward, in true Gable Fashion, as I walked past him to go to the sauna, he said, “you are going to have to get a lot tougher than that if you are going to get where you want to.”  

It hit me like a ton of bricks.  I went home. I could not eat and could not sleep. It bothered me a lot. What my coaches thought meant a lot to me.  I can handle a loss, but I could not handle my coach questioning my toughness, character, and integrity of my wrestling.  

The next day, Greg and I came in again for a workout.  On that day, I had a little bit more fire in my step, a little bit more purpose, more intensity, and focus.  Greg and I had a great workout. It went back and forth, but I had a better day. Again as I walked out of the room into the sauna, Coach Gable looked at me and said, “the difference of night and day”!

Those are the moments that you never know when they are going to come. You never know when you are going to have that conversation or moment in time when you start to see progress.  That was one of those days!

I talk to my team about an analogy like this… When an artist is making a sculpture… He starts hammering the piece of rock.  He can strike the rock 1000 times before he sees anything happening. Then on that 1001st hit, a piece of the stone falls away. Then he starts to envision the piece of art. But it wasn’t the 1001st hit that did it.  It was the 1000 times before that when there were microfractures throughout the piece that made the difference. The piece of art was being formed long before you could see anything happening. You have to have faith in the process. You MUST fall in love with the process of learning, of growing, of struggling.  If you fall in love with the process, what can be accomplished is limitless. Enjoy the good and bad days. They are all a part of the journey.

7. How about we discuss wrestling– “Womens” Wrestling!  We had our annual HWC Banquet on June 1st. I told our Women wrestlers that I did not know how to refer to them– The HWC Women wrestlers? The HWC Girls Wrestlers? The lady wrestlers from the HWC? They said they didn’t care– it’s all good. They are just happy to be called Wrestlers. How do you refer to them?

​Interesting you bring this up!  I have been the Women’s Freestyle National Team Coach for 17 years. For the first 16 1/2 years, I did not put much thought into it.  I called them what felt normal to me. I would call them in and say, “Girls Bring it in.” I sent an email to the Sr National Team and copied some leaders around the program. I address the group as girls.  It was brought to my attention that this may not be appropriate. In this day and age, there may be a better way to address them. Instead of trying to guess, I just asked the team how they would prefer to be addressed.  We came to an agreement that we all need to take responsibility for moving things in the right direction. So as of January 2019, I address them as Ladies.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much I have learned from these ladies over the years.  You come in thinking you are going to change their world and maybe you have a small piece in that but what you realize is that they have changed added so much to your own and not just mine but the influence they have all had on my daughter and wife.  It is just incredible.

8. You are a big part in the development and popularity of the USA Women’s wrestling team and movement.  Thank you for that! How can you explain the rise in popularity?

As you know, we have high-level women in our club. It’s incredible to me how the fans have embraced them.

I knew long ago when I accepted the job as the Women’s National Team Coach that USA Wrestling was not just looking for a coach.  I knew they were looking for an advocate. They were looking for someone that would stand up and fight the battles that these ladies were facing, so they did not have to do that anymore.  At the time, my daughter was 1.5 years old. I was struggling whether to accept the position or stay on the college track.

My wife said to me, “I hate what you are thinking.”  

I said, “It’s not the first time.”

She told me a story about sitting in a gymnasium in rural ND in her hometown in the late ’60s or early ’70s. She was listening to people boo, ridicule, and harass.  

She asked me, “What do you think I was thinking?”

I said, “I have no idea.”

She said, “I was watching a girls basketball game. I thought, ‘This is the beginning of something. They need someone willing to stand up and fight for what is right.”  

She continued, “You have a young daughter. What if she wants to follow in your footsteps?  

Right then, I knew it was the right thing to do because what our parents gave Troy, my sister Trasi, and I was Opportunity!  I wanted to give my daughter the same open doors to do whatever it was that she wanted to do, if it was good for her.

I accepted the job the next day!

I knew that getting people onboard would take time.  I knew that I could build confidence in those that already embraced it, but I knew that to change the minds and hearts of the masses would be a generational change.  It is here.

Randy, I look at it like this:  Women’s Wrestling is like Religion.  You cannot talk someone into having faith.  You can talk and talk, but what you really have to do is help them see the Value in it.  Once people see the Value in it, they jump on board. My job has been to help people see what they already knew.  Wrestling people know the value of the sport, and the impact it has had on them, their kids and families. This sport has been good for hundreds of thousands of young boys. Why can’t it be good for young girls?  Why do we want to limit this sport to half the population? It’s a sport that fights for attention, media, sponsorship, etc… Let’s invite the other half of the population into our great sport. It can only ENHANCE the sport of wrestling as well as many kids lives.

9. Recently the NCAA  recommended Women’s Wrestling as an emerging sport, which is a crucial step. How do you see that unfolding– what do you envision that collegiate Women’s wrestling will look like five years from now?

​It is a HUGE step in the right direction for both the overall sport of wrestling and women’s wrestling.  It is hard to know exactly how it will unfold. I know we are the fastest growing sport at the high school level for the past four years. We have had 29 years of continual growth.

I think eventually, to be relevant in the college scene, you will have to have a women’s program.  We have proposed a fall, one-semester sport! So it fits the international schedule. We proposed FREESTYLE as the style to be wrestled at the college level.  

I think sports, from time to time, have to reinvent themselves. I believe that by adding women to the current programs is going to give wrestling an entirely different feel. And it is for the better.

People have said, you say all this because you are the women’s national team coach. You are a women’s coach!  I am a wrestling coach. I am a wrestling guy. I happen to be in charge of the women’s program. I want what is best for all. Sometimes that may not work. But for wrestling, adding women’s wrestling to your athletic department is not going to hurt your men’s program.  It will balance it, it will enhance it, and in some cases, it will stabilize it.

10.  What is a typical day like for you as USA Wrestling Women’s coach?

​Always Interesting!  It is challenging on so many fronts.  The #1 job is to prepare our elite team.  But unlike a college program, you are not with your team 100% of the time.  We have some of our team here in Colorado Springs, some in current women’s college programs, and others in RTC’s Programs like in Iowa City.  The job has changed over the years. My first 15 years, most all of our #1 athletes trained in a centralized location. Now we are starting to de-centralize. With that, the job changes from a 100% hands-on job to both hands on and managerial job.  

My job, as I see it now, is to set the tone!  Put athletes in locations that are best for them. Give them the tools and guidance they need from the national office and let them do their jobs.  It’s a tough adjustment because I am a hands-on guy, but I also realize that the only way to grow is to get more quality coaches around our elite athletes.  

The job is to help people see the path and keep them united on the long term vision and goal of the athletes and the program.

When I first started, I was a wrestling coach. The longer I am involved, I realize more and more that my job has become a Women’s rights, civil rights, and human rights job.  

I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.  I don’t feel like I have worked a day in my life.  I feel very fortunate that at a young age, I found my passion.  I knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted to spend my life. To be around some of the greatest athletes and people in the world is a privilege and an honor!  

I do not take my job lightly as I realize that someone’s dreams are possibly hanging on me being at my best to assist them.

11. Do they ever have open practices at the Olympic Training center? I know a lot of fans travel to Colorado Springs and would be interested in that.

​Every practice is open!  We welcome everyone! One thing that made a significant impression on me in Iowa Wrestling… I knew what I was doing wrestling for the University of Iowa was appreciated and valued.  I want these athletes to see that they are appreciated and valued and that they are a huge inspiration to a lot of people.

12.  Tell us about your family, your hobbies. What do you do when you are not coaching or thinking about wrestling?

​I have a wonderful family that doesn’t get enough credit.  My wife, Jodi Zueger and I have been married for 20 years! We have one daughter, Raven Grace Steiner, who is 18 years old and just graduated from high school.  These two have had a massive effect on my coaching career and have also been greatly influenced by the athletes in this program.

Jodi is a 34-year flight attendant for Delta Air Lines.  She is from New England, ND and went to school at NDSU.

Raven is currently deciding on either Iowa or Colorado for college.

Wrestling is our lifestyle!  We enjoy water and snow, but we do not get to enjoy it enough.  We both travel so much our jobs that downtime is a welcome time.

Go HAWKS!

Thank you Terry! Best, Randy Novak

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