From the outside, wrestling appears to be a mastery of leading yourself emotionally, physically and mentally. It's a metaphor for life, success and anywhere in life. Do you do you see wrestling this way, Troy?
I tend to pull everything from wrestling into my life because that translates over. Everything I've learned in wrestling, you can definitely take into your life and use it in in whatever area you're in or in whatever business you're in. I got into the coaching world, so I'm still in wrestling. There are so many times when you're dealing with people and working with athletes or even going on fund raising that you're taking concepts and principles from wrestling. It's constant. It drives my wife crazy a little bit. I'm always relating everything back to wrestling in everything we do. That's who I am. Wrestling has been a huge part of my life.
Are the kids picking it up as well?
Yeah, I think so. They're around it so much. They definitely grab it. I hope they do because wrestling can help teach some of the values and some of the discipline that I may forget as a parent.
We’re talking about wrestling, but very much entrepreneurship, very much discipline and how you conduct yourself mindset. When you go out to the world and you sell wrestling, maybe you're doing a fundraising or maybe you're getting kids involved or trying to get them into the sports. Essentially outsiders, people who aren't familiar with wrestling, how do you sell it to get people excited either again to donate or to get into this?
I always try to relate it to people. Everyone is a wrestler at heart a little bit. We've all wrestled with decisions or have struggles in certain things. That's what wrestling is. It's a struggle. It's a fight. Anyone on this Earth has those same issues with decisions they make, with problems they have in their life, they wrestle through it. They struggle through it. They find a way to get past it and climb up to the top. Wrestling is a natural thing. We all do. As you're trying to sell it to other people, then you look at what the values that wrestling has taught myself. That's what I see with it or I see a teacher and athletes as the discipline, the work ethic constantly going back to work when things aren't going right.
Israel, I'm interested to get your take on how wrestling is like this big metaphor for life and some of the things that you've learned and now you apply into everyday life.
The things that we learn as being wrestlers, the things that we have to endure and persevere through, it helps with everything. We have to be disciplined in your weight management. You have to be disciplined in your lifestyle in order to get the results you want. It goes hand in hand. If you want something in life whether it be in your career or in your marriage or something, you have to be disciplined. You have to be willing to sacrifice things. That's how wrestling plays in our lives.
I want to dive into it. I want to get your intel on this. With wrestling, a big thing is cutting and making weight because you don't see that as much in other sports. What is it about cutting and making weight that is transferable? When someone is right on the borderline or maybe a little overweight, what tactics or what things do people need to do in addition to making the weight? From a mindset angle, what does one need to do to make sure they hit that goal?
Weight cutting in wrestling, it gets a bad rap because the guys that are most disappointed in our sport, it's not a diet. It's not something they're going to be missing meals and stuff. It's a disciplined lifestyle. They live. It's not a diet they go on for a couple months or a couple weeks to get the weight. It is a very healthy lifestyle. When they learn to manage their weight the correct way because they start eating correctly. They know their body and they become much more efficient in their workouts and everything. They have to buy into it. They have to get that mindset of this is a lifestyle. It's not I'm making weight for Friday and then I can binge and be back up fifteen pounds. It's a lifestyle you choose to live. Once they do that, they become very disciplined. It's not an issue.
Do some guys struggle with this more than others because maybe they like different aspects of the sport and the weight thing nags them or do you find that goes away as the season goes on or where people do struggle with this?
We have a very young squad now, so they're used to doing it how they maybe did it in high school or how they were born when they were young from others. That's one of the areas we try to get in front of them right away. We know if they don't do it right, it's going to affect their performance. We've had a couple of issues with some young guys. We've had to talk to them and get their mindset changed on how they're doing this. It's a lifestyle. It's not a one-time once a week thing where you're going to drop down and you're going to climb back up. It's a lifestyle you live. It's a process.
Israel, do some guys that operate maybe not in the lifestyle yet the young ones. They're learning. Do some guys do whatever it takes? They put the suits on. They sweat it out. They do whatever. Does that affect performance in the next day?
It definitely affects on the same day. We can see their energy is not as high. A guy on our team or a guy on a different team, if they weren't doing the right things, we notice it. That's the biggest thing with our guys is when you're at our level, all of them know how to wrestle. They're all good competitors. That's why they're at this level. The biggest thing that we have to teach them is the lifestyle, the diet, the social stuff. Once they get that figured out then they have a lot of success. We're not just teaching wrestling moves, we're teaching them the fundamentals of life in order to be successful.
I've got to imagine that's tricky because you are primarily working with collegiate athletes. There are lots of temptation. You’ve got beer. You’ve got all sorts of food. You’ve got everything. What do you do to create that unit? Is it more of a discipline individually? Are teammates holding each other accountable? What is your formula for helping them get to that lifestyle or get to that mindset?
With us, we have such a young team that we're trying to build that culture. We don't have any leaders so we're trying to develop leaders as well. They get a few years go by then we will have that culture where the guys will police themselves and hold each other accountable. For now, I know coach Steiner in the past has always said, "There are three things. There's academics, there's your athletics and there's your social life.” You can only be good at two, you can't be good at all three. One of them is going to falter at some point. It's up to you on what you want to do.
There are three things and you get to pick two out of the three. That's very fascinating.
It comes down to priorities of what they want. We're not going to put the want into them. They got to come there with certain things they want to accomplish. We try to help guide them down their path of what they want. If we see them going off their path a little bit, we try to pull them back on. It's definitely a process. We do have a young group of guys, but one of the big ways for us to teach them is we have to live life. If they see us out partying and doing all this stuff, they're thinking why can't they? Even though we're not competing anymore, you still live the lifestyle. We're still as coaches. A lot of these coaches like Israel and my other assistants, they're still working out. I'm still working out. They see us doing that. We're not doing maybe the same or as much as our athletes are. They see us living a pretty disciplined lifestyle. It doesn't change from day-to-day. It's the same routine. That's what as a coach you want to see the biggest things you want to see in an athlete is you want to see consistency.
That applies to everything in life. By consistent showing up every day and putting in the work and doing it.
That's the biggest thing I look for as a coach, I want to see consistency. If I start seeing consistency not over the course of a week or two weeks not even a month, but over two three four months, then I know we're going somewhere. Until I start seeing that consistency, we're not going to go up too far. It's definitely a process that you keep reiterating to the guys. They’ve got to see it from us as well.
Troy, you wrestled for Dan Gable and the legendary Iowa Hawkeye program. Before we get there, what the process was like? Being a part of that team but getting in is its own process. What was that process like for you? Is this a hard thing to get in and get accepted?
It was interesting because I grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota. I have a twin brother and we both wrestled. Back then, there wasn't any social media. I didn't know much about the Iowa program or about Dan Gable. We lived out in the country in North Dakota. I was on a horse most of the time. I thought I was going to be in the rodeo. I didn't know a lot about Iowa wrestling.
Was it because you were out on the farm or did other people know and revered as legendary at the time or was it not yet?
A lot of the kids on the Iowa's team at the time or a lot of my teammates were from the state of Iowa. They've been around it. They've heard about Dan Gable and all the stuff. I didn't know much about college wrestling. When Gable came up and recruited us, he kept talking about the fans and the overall program. I remember him saying that the number of fans and that they get to the matches and all of the stuff. Under my breath, I was thinking like, “Who cares? I don't care about that.”We decided to go to Iowa. We got down there and one of our first big matches was against Oklahoma State, which is a huge rival at the time and still is. There were 15,000 fans.
I remember we were in the tunnel ready to run around to the floor and the crowd was going nuts. I had like goosebumps and chill going down my spine. I looked back at my brother and I said, "I guess, this is what he was talking about." You don't understand it. You never understand it until you’re there. You start understanding the history of the program and who Dan Gable was and what he had accomplished. All the athletes that he had underneath him who became great and icons in the sport. It was a neat thing. Like I said, when I first got there, I had no idea. I couldn't care less at the time. It probably helped me because I was so in awe of it. I was doing my own thing. I wasn't sure if I belonged there myself. I was trying to find a way to keep myself there.
I want to take a step back if that's the case. How did you get into wrestling? You were out on the farm, you had two sports to pick from and you picked wrestling?
We lived out in the country. We never lived on a farm. We have a hobby farm. We have horses. My parents kept putting us in these team sports like baseball and football. We didn't like it. We were very shy at the time. We didn't like being around with other kids was what it came down to. We were uncomfortable. I had a couple of uncles who were about ten years older than us and they got us into wrestling. I don't know if we liked it because it's a hard thing to do as a young kid is to step out on a mat by yourself. At the same time, we were used to that one-on-one battle because we had it every day being a twin. It was comforting in some sense. My brother and I won very little at a young age. Our first four or five years in the sport, we hardly won. It wasn't that we stuck with it because of the success we had. It was more of we were comfortable being in a one-on-one setting. We had some coaches who kept it entertaining for us and kept us in the sport. Once we started having all the success, then it took off.
Especially now that you guys are into coaching, it's very individual as you talk about. You didn't like being around other kids. It was very introspective. You mastered yourself essentially. Yet in coaching and even in part of wrestling, you are part of a team unit even though you are battling or wrestling one-on-one. That's an interesting dynamic. Israel, how do you see it as different because you're now into coaching? You wrestled for Troy. What does that jump from that individual aspect into team building, in recruiting and building a biz? What is that dynamic like for you now?
With our guys, you take care of yourself and individually then the team takes care of itself. We have ten starters and each guy is doing everything right in their own preparation, then the team will take care of itself. As far as team building, it's over there and the recruiting. we're looking for guys that are living the lifestyle. We're looking for guys who want to wrestle twelve months of the year. We're looking for guys who have the same passion for the sport as we do. We were there 365 days. We were always thinking about it. When we're talking to kids and we're filtering the process of who we want to bring on our team, that's what we're looking for. Those are the questions we're asking. We're trying to see what a kids' mentality is.
I'm a big fan of the recruiting process. I don't know much about it. A lot of people in the business world, we have to recruit team members. We have to recruit people to buy our products and services. Fresno State, recruiting, let's say you're going up against an Iowa. How do you battle maybe programs that have more funds or more notoriety? What is your USP? What is essentially the pitch to get someone to want to come to your school, Fresno State, versus somewhere else?
In our first year here, we don't have anything established. We were the top twenty recruiting class in the country, which is unheard of. In this recruiting class that we finished, we have two or three guys that are ranked top two or three in the country that Oklahoma State, North Carolina, all these schools are recruiting. We got them. We have a top ten, fifteen recruiting class coming in 2019. The biggest thing is that kids have got to see your passion. Your passion for what you're doing, what we're selling and give them the pitch. If the kids feel that passion, then they want to come on board. We have such a rich area in the Central Valley for wrestling. Our first year back, we were number five in the country in attendance.
These kids are going to wrestle in front of 5,000 fans from the valley. We went head to head with Oklahoma State, University of North Carolina and Iowa State. These kids want to be part of something that we're passionate about and they have the same passion. We're not pulling guys from New Jersey, Pennsylvania. We have great talent here in California. We want to keep our top local talent home. We're giving them a reason to stay home.
Have you come to the conclusion that you are going to focus on the left coast? You're going to focus on the West Coast? Dominate that or put your passion there? Not necessarily exclude them, I'm sure you would take them, but in terms of resources and flying back and forth and doing it, is that the strategy now?
You look at all the top programs in the country and I don't think it's just wrestling. It crosses the board with football, basketball or everywhere. You have to build from within. I feel you have to build from within because it's not only that your scholarship dollars go further because of in state and out of state tuition, but it's your fan base that you're trying to build. They want to come and see their own people competing against some of the top schools. In the sport of wrestling, you look at Penn State, who is probably the top program in Iowa and Ohio State. For the most part, Penn State has Pennsylvania kids. Ohio State has Ohio kids. Iowa has Iowa kids. We're fortunate here in California to have a strong Central Valley and the whole state. We have 27,000 high school wrestlers in California. If we can't find 30 of them, we're not looking too hard. There are good kids here who don't have opportunities and a place to go. We're going to try to keep our top kids in Fresno. If we have to go cherry pick a few from elsewhere, we'll do that. We'll go where we need to, but we feel we can build this thing right from California and we have to. That's where our fan base is going to come from. That's where our funding is coming from. That's how we're going to get this thing built up.
I’ve got to ask you, Troy, you jump into this program, Fresno State. The program was cut before you got there. Years passes by and then you take the gig when the program comes back where they were about to do it. You could probably take any gig and it would be a lot easier for you to walk into an established program. I want to know why. Why did you decide you're walking in and you've got to essentially build this thing from scratch?
Sometimes I ask myself the same thing. The thing that attracted me to it is there's not many times in your life where you get to take something from scratch and start it. We're always telling our athletes, my own kids, don't be afraid to do this and go after things. You're always preaching that as a coach, as a parent. In this situation, I had to look in the mirror myself. You're telling people this all the time, but you have a situation here. Why aren't you jumping on it? I looked at that and I have an opportunity to start something from scratch to see what I can do as a coach. Either I'm going to fail miserably or I'm going to succeed, but it's going to be on me and on our staff and what we can put together. You don't get opportunities like that many times in your life. That's one of the selling points to the recruits too. You can be a part of something very special here. You go to Iowa, they're already established. You go to Oklahoma State, it's already an established program. You can be successful there. I'm not saying you can't be successful, but you're just another guy. Here at Fresno, you can be a part of something very special.
Israel, I'm interested to get your thoughts in wrestling because I'm an outsider. I haven't wrestled. No brothers to wrestle either. It hit me this way what you said. It was "Take a perceived weakness." The perceived weakness is you are starting from scratch. There's no momentum. There's probably less resources starting from scratch and turn it into a strength, which is be a part of something. Is there a big component of wrestling that is that way where you take what someone may perceive as your strength and you use that and you transform that into a strength?
The sport of wrestling is very unique where it's all shapes and sizes. You don't have to be a 6'4" and 250 pounds. You can be 5'1" and weigh 125, you can still compete in Division 1 college athletics. It doesn't discriminate. It takes all shapes and sizes. That's one thing with the sport that you can do. With that, there's not one thing that's going to make you win. It's not strength. It's not speed. It's not technique. It's not the mind, it's a combination of all of it. You have to work with the hand you're dealt with. The built that God has given you, you're going to use those and figure out a way to be successful.
We tell our guys the biggest thing I look at as a coach for my athletes right now is I want them to put points on the scoreboard. How do they do that? I don't care. Each guy is going to be different. Some guys are going to get it by taking the guy down. Some guy is going to get it by being on top of a guy and turning them. However, they get those points, it doesn't matter. I want them staying busy during a match putting the points on the board. You have to go with the hand that you're dealt with and you can't make excuses because you have attributes that other someone else doesn't. You have to make them work for you.
What I heard was find a way. You're the coach. You're the leader essentially. What I heard is you're not telling them what to do, but you're giving them the autonomy. You're giving them the opportunity to figure it out. That parlays so much into business. Did you used to always do that or were you more tactical in their face like do this, do that when you were first starting out?
We still are very technical, but it's different for each guy. One guy, if he hits a single leg and he's having trouble finishing a single leg, we'll help him adjust those technical points, so he can score on the single leg. Another guy is going to score with being on top of a guy with the arm bar and you work with him on doing that. You have to work with each individual and you have to know each individual. That's very unique about the sport. It's not like we're in football where you throw another guy in and he's doing the same thing. It's a scheme. It's different on that regard.
We tell our guys do what you do at the highest level. We're not going to change your style. We're not going to change the way you do it, but whatever you do, we're going to develop you to do that at the highest level against any opponent in the country. That's what we preach to them. This guy does this or this guy does is that. It doesn't matter. Whatever you do best, we're going to make you be able to execute that against anybody in the country.
When did you come to know that was the style of coaching management? Is that something that was baked in to both of you early on? This was an effective way. Has it changed throughout the years?
I've been around so many different types of coaches and athletes that you can't pigeonhole them into one thing because what works for one athlete is not going to necessarily work for another. There are certain principles that you have to get across and they have to understand. You have to be very flexible in working with the different types of athletes because there are so many different attributes guys have. You have to be able to work with that and shift your mindset a little bit too. Because if I teach everything that I was successful with, if that's all I teach, it's not going to work for someone else probably.
The reason why I ask is like for me in managing a group of people, managing a team I used to come from a different style when I was younger. It could work, but it's not as effective as what I'm doing now, which is very similar to what you're doing. I'm telling people I don't have the answer. I can appreciate you doing that. You're empowering the individual to figure out the solution. It makes for a better team dynamic. It makes for better results. You may stumble along the way, but I hear that with how you're grooving the athletes.
I grew up with a twin brother and we are very much alike in a lot of ways, but on the wrestling mat, there are things we do different. I can't do some of the things that he did. He can't do some of the things that I did. He doesn't in a live situation when we have to perform. You have to be able to work with everyone.
We get asked that a lot too in the recruiting process by athletes and parents like, "What are your guys’ style? Are you going to change my kid's style and some of that?" That's what's great about Troy and our staff is Troy does things very well. I do things different. We have two other coaches who are high-level coaches and they bring a different flair in their wrestling. Whatever the athlete has gravitated towards and which style, then that coach will work with it. It's not based on weight classes. It's not based on anything else and also with the personality.
My personality works well with other athletes and Troy works well with certain athletes. Our styles and our personalities click with different guys on our teams and that's how we work with an individual. Troy gives us the freedom. It's not all about, “It’s my way. I'm the head coach. This is how we are doing it.” Whatever it takes for our team to be successful, Troy gives us free reigns to work with athletes. He gives us a lot of input and say in the program.
I'm curious to understand your guys' dynamic. You are the leadership of the team or the coaching staff essentially. Some people equate this to partners or maybe execs as part of the business. How do you decide who's doing what? How do you divide and conquer? If you resonate with a couple of athletes, you're going to go talk to them, motivate them and get them inspired. From a tactical standpoint, how do you decide who's doing what? How do you allocate?
As a head coach or one who is trying to put this thing together, there are certain skill sets I know I don't have. I want to bring guys around me and surround myself with better people that have those skill sets that I don't have. I have tried to put a staff together that can all work together and we can cover most of the bases with the people that I have there. You work with the athletes. From a personality standpoint like he was saying or a technical standpoint, which one would work better or pull a man like if I'm working with some guy and I said, "EZ, come over here or Jason, come on over here and work with Joe on this situation." He will do better than I do. He'll explain it better than I can. You’ve got to drop the ego a little bit and let other people work.
Troy and I share office. We're always constantly communicating. I know what our program needs through our conversations and through our interactions. Troy gives me free rein to do what I need to do to enhance the program. He trusts me that I'm going to make the right decisions. If I need an answer or I'm not sure about some, I will turn to him. As long as we're putting our best foot forward and we're trying to bring the program forward, then Troy is just saying, “Do what you’ve got to do. Do what you need to do and what you feel is best.” That's what I like about him. I've been under head coaches that micromanage and are dictators and I didn't like it. It doesn't allow me to grow as a person and as a coach. Troy does a good job with all our coaches to play in our strengths. I do a lot of the recruiting. I help Troy with a lot of the fundraising and speaking. It's the same message. I know Troy's vision of the program and that's why they hired me. It's easy to get people on board because we have the same vision, or I believe in the vision that Troy has for our program.
I want to talk about fundraising. You've got a budget from the school. You get some funds from the school, but it's not enough so you go out and fundraise.
It's enough. We fundraise for a different avenue.
Give me that avenue.
We call it the Valley Regional Training Center
. It's an Olympic Development Program set up by USA Wrestling. Anyone can have a regional training center around the country, but there are certain things you have to do to keep a regional training center. You have so many athletes compete at the US nationals. You have so many athletes compete at the U23s. You have to open it up to high school kids in the area that meet the criteria to get into it. We've set that up in Fresno. What it allows us to do is bring in some post grads, post-collegiate and they are using Fresno or making Fresno their home base. They train there. They are with our athletes.
For our college athletes, they're at this level and they're working out with guys that are a higher level. It takes the level of the whole room, the whole program up. If you look at the top programs around the country, they have a strong regional training center. Most of our fundraising is going towards that. We will still help the university with trying to get scholarships and donate it, but for the most part our efforts and fundraising are for this Valley Regional Training Center. That allows us to go get these post-collegiate who are training to make a World and the Olympic team. We try to give them a living stipend. We cover their expenses to certain tournaments, both domestic and international. That's where the fundraising efforts are going.
It helps benefit the program because you can say, "You can come here. We've got access to this facility, you can wrestle other guys."
It all ties together because to recruit the top athletes, a lot of them have aspirations of going on and trying to make a World Team, an Olympic team which in the sport or wrestling, it's the height of our sport. That's the highest level you can go to. We want to make Fresno a place where it's a one-stop shop. They can come here. They can get their education at Fresno State. They can wrestle their collegiate years there, win an NCAA championship and if they have aspirations, they can go on to try to make the US World Team or Olympic team and compete for the US. We are trying to create an atmosphere where it can be a one-stop shop and it's a win-win for everyone. It's a win-win for the post-collegiate who are there training. It's a win-win for our college athletes because they have these guys that are at a higher level. They have already won through the college system. They understand it. They're like mentors for them. They can jump on their coattails and follow them.
The people who donate or who are a part of it, is it primarily people inside the wrestling community who are donating back to the center?
It's anyone that can see our vision and what we're trying to do. If people are interested in helping that out, then we can get some donors. For the most part, it's wrestling people, but we're trying to pull in other people that maybe they see our vision and see the benefit of what this is doing not only the guys who are going on to make the Olympic team, but for our college program and for our youth. We're working with the young guys coming up. It's definitely a win-win for our sport. We try to sell our vision.
I want to talk about the mindset. You talk about the guys at the center now that are post-collegiate. They're working up to Worlds and then the Olympics. Israel, you said it earlier that at your level even in the college level, all the guys have the skills. I'm sure some are more gifted than others. I'm curious about the world level and the Olympic level. What is the difference if most of them have the same skills? What do you see as the differentiator for those guys?
It's definitely the mind. There's no doubt. I was in Budapest for the World Championships. I was in the back where all the athletes were warming up. I was watching and I was like, "All these guys are very good." You watch them and technically their drill on their holds and warming up. They're all good. What separates them? What separates the guys that win at this level?” It's that mindset that they are able to free their mind up. They'll let themselves compete and not hold back, not be tentative and go after it. Leave it out there. I was an athlete. I never made it quite to that level, but it's very similar. When you when you get into that zone, you don't see anything else. You don't hear anything else. You're going after something and you're not going to let anything stop you. When you can get to that point mentally, it's a pretty neat thing.
Israel, what is that process look like to get to that point?
We have a regional transfer athlete, who is also one of our coaches, Joe Colon, who we brought onboard. He was always one of the top US guys and always fell short of making that team. He'll tell you a lot of it was his self-discipline, his social life and something like that. We brought him on board because we knew a lot about him. We wanted to have him on our staff, but he was also competing. Since we brought Joe on board, we gave him a clean slate. He came from University of Northern Iowa. He started living a healthy lifestyle. His preparation was good. One thing with Coach Sanders programs and what we do is when our guys step on the mat, they'll know that they're prepared. The wins or losses will come, but we're going to do everything in our preparation to do the right things. You're going to be as strong as you can be. You're going to be in most condition and your weight will be under control.
We brought Joe in and we gave him that structure. Joe before that wrestle and he always had that doubt because he knew he wasn't doing everything right in his preparation. Since he's been with us, he's had the best year in his career. He's 28 years old. He won the US Open. He made the World Team and he won a World bronze medal. With Joe's preparation, what it was with us, he knew every time he stepped on the mat, he wasn't going to get tired. He was as strong as he can be. He was prepared. Mentally, he knew that he can let it all go. He didn't have to hold anything back so that's all he was missing. He always had the ability, but once Joe started doing everything right in his preparation and devote everything in his life to winning that world medal, everything clicked for him in Budapest. We brought a bronze medal back to our regional training center.
Another thing I hear in that is stepping into the environment. The mind allowed him once he owned up to it and he set a vision for himself. He stepped into your world, the environment. You protected him. You gave him that peace of mind and you allowed him to free up to be who he was. That applies a lot to life. Getting to that point to make that decision and then taking the action is mission critical.
Once you step on and if you've known you've prepared everything, then you're okay with the outcome. If you've devoted everything in your life to prepare yourself for that moment, then the outcome is secondary. You go out there and enjoy the moment.
Speaking of that, when it's a solo sport, it's a win or a loss. Is there a draw?
There are no draws. Entrepreneurship is very much like that. Investing is like that. There's no middle ground. How do you or how did you handle defeat?
Everyone wants to win. No doubt. Every time we step on the mat, we want to win. Every time in my life and whatever I'm doing if it's in business or something, I want to win. People are competitive. Every time you have defeat you have to step back and analyze what things went well and what things you didn't do so well. Then you’ve got to make adjustments and keep moving forward. The biggest thing is you keep moving forward because if you stand still, you're going to get run over. You have to keep moving forward as you're analyzing and keep making adjustments. Our athletes sometimes when they come in, I talk to them about using the marathon as an analogy. I'm not going to run the race with you, but I'll come in at a few checkpoints or at mile three, mile six and mile eight and if you're a little off course, if you need to make an adjustment, I'll help you. For right now, just work. Go and do what you do. Do what you know how to do right now, I'll come in and tell you how you need to make the adjustments. If you have a defeat you have to learn from it and move forward. You have to keep moving forward.
Coach Israel, the guys that take defeat hard, how do you help them realize this is just a moment and help them get better?
I always tell our guys even my own kids, I have three boys, failure is good. You've got to fail forward, but it's how you overcome that and move forward is what's going to define you. If you're going to dwell on that and you're going to have negative talk about yourself, then you're never going to move on. Look at what you did good, what adjustments can we make and let's move forward. We had a tough loss that we feel that as a team we should've won. We could have dwelled on it. We could have been upset, but there's still a lot of wrestling left in this season and these kids' careers. We've got to move forward. We had to make the adjustments and we’ve got to continue on.
Coach Troy, coach of champions, you yourself is a champion, what do you know now that you wish you knew back then or what would you tell yourself as a young wrestler coming up?
When I was young, I took defeat too hard. It comes across like I don't care if I lose, but I took it too hard as a young athlete because I held myself back. I dwelled on that too much. It kept me from moving forward. It hampered my growth because I couldn't let go of the defeat. You have to look at it as learning moments. It's not necessarily a defeat. You don't lose, you just learn. As a young athlete, I did that a little too much. I focused so much on the defeat and it put me down as a person. You can't do that. You're great for even being here. That's why I tell our guys, "You're here for a reason. You're not going to be perfect. Don't worry about that. I want you to give effort every time you're out there." If they can do that, they're going to be fine. That's the biggest thing. If I was to look back or give myself advice if I could do it again, "Just keep learning and keep moving forward."
Israel, because you wrestled, now you're a coach as well, what do you wish you knew now that you're on the other side of the fence?
Growing up in high school and in college and even in my post college careers, you can always do more. There's 24 hours a day. You can always find something that gives you the edge. When I was younger, you can always do more. Whether it be mental preparation or whether it be physical preparation, there's always a little bit more you can do to get you there.
Sometimes we get these defeats in life or were in a slump and when you've got an athlete that their head’s not in the right space, how do you help them get out of that? What are the actions or what are the things that you do to help them find the way out?
One is you make them realize it's just one moment that you lost. You go back and to help them get out of it, sometimes you’ve got to keep working through it. When you’re in a rut, you keep working through it. You’ll come out of that rut, but you’ve got to keep going forward. Sometimes you take them back and you show them matches or you show them situations that you were successful and they felt great. Let them watch themselves succeed because they've got to see it again in their own mind because they're putting themselves down. They're defeated mentally, so you got to get their mind reset a little bit. Sometimes by watching them succeed, have them go back and watch the matches that they've had great performances and it helps them come out of that rut a little bit.
You got any special processes to get someone's heads right?
No, I've heard someone say before that, "Wrestling is the action of man versus man."He said no wrestling is more man versus self. In your own head, that's the battle of you with your own thoughts and you with your own preparation and your life. That's not in wrestling. When you're in a marriage or you're in work or business, it's what you can get the most out of yourself. That's how wrestling relates to everyday life. It's the wrestling and the struggle with yourself.
I know we're talking about wrestling but so many parallels here to life, to business, to being a better you. I appreciate you both taking the time here. I'm excited for what you guys are up to and to see the program grow. For folks who are wrestling fanatics and loved the conversation, where can people keep up with the center, where can people keep up with Fresno State Wrestling, where would be some places to look for you guys?
We have Fresno State Athletics. They can get on the Fresno State Wrestling, GoBulldogs.com
. You can catch us there. We also have ValleyRTC.com
. It would take you to our regional training center website.
We're on all the social media platforms with Instagram
, or Facebook
. We're constantly updating that. We've got to keep our fans engaged and involved in some of that. All the social media platforms, we're pretty involved in that.
Coach Steiner, thank you. Coach Israel, thank you for being here and imparting the wisdom. I wish you guys the best.