Gary Barta, University of Iowa director of athletics, enjoys a light moment at the FryFest news conference Thursday.
April 21, 2011
CORALVILLE, Iowa -- You know you're a big deal when a call from current University of Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands is ignored, just so you can be introduced.
That happened Thursday morning at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, when Josh Schamberger, president of the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, sheepishly ignored an incoming call from Brands in order to introduce Dan Gable, who will be honored at FryFest in less than five months.
"I can guarantee you that we're going to top that first year with Hayden (Fry)," Schamberger said. "We're going to top that last year with coach (Forest) Evashevski and we're going to top that Hokey Pokey. This year on Sept. 2, you Hawkeye fans are in for a treat; something that will be remembered for the rest of your Iowa Hawkeye life."
Also being recognized at the 2011 FryFest will be the 75th anniversary of the Scottish Highlanders and the 25th anniversary of the UI women's field hockey national championship team of 1986.
"Hayden Fry would agree. We're not selling sizzle, this is truly steak," said Kelly Hayworth, Coralville city administrator. "Dan Gable is unparalleled as a wrestler, Olympian and coach. Coach Gable is without a doubt Iowa's greatest sports figure and we intend to celebrate him and all that he has achieved."
Schamberger, Hayworth, Gable and University of Iowa director of athletics Gary Barta spoke at the 30-minute news conference.
"I can guarantee you that we're going to top that first year with Hayden (Fry). We're going to top that last year with coach (Forest) Evashevski and we're going to top that Hokey Pokey. This year on Sept. 2, you Hawkeye fans are in for a treat; something that will be remembered for the rest of your Iowa Hawkeye life."
Gable, a graduate of Waterloo (Iowa) West High School, was 64-0 as a high school wrestler and 118-1 as a collegian at Iowa State University. He won the Olympic gold medal in 1972 at Munich, Germany. Gable joined the UI coaching staff in 1972 as an assistant to Gary Kurdlemeier and he took over as head coach in 1976. From 1977-97, Gable compiled a career record of 355-21-5, coaching 152 All-Americans, 106 Big Ten champions, 45 national champions and 12 Olympians. The Hawkeyes won nine consecutive NCAA championships from 1978-86.
"This is a big honor because Hayden Fry came in about the time I took over as well," Gable said. "It goes back a long time. I owe a lot to (former director of athletics) Bump Elliott and Gary Kurdlemeier."
Gable benefitted from coaching several combination football player-wrestlers, including Doug Benschoter, John Bowlsby, Rollie Kane, Bruce Kittle, John Oostendorp and Mark Sindlinger.
"This FryFest is a big deal in my life," Gable said. "I know that this is Sept. 2, and it's the first football game. In my life, I always know that the next season is wrestling, so that's why it's a big deal."
There will be another recognition banquet for Gable on June 4, and Barta admitted to feeling pressure being part of that event.
"In life, when you do something, I don't care if it's wrestling, if it's athletics, if it's running your business -- whatever it is you do in life," Barta said. "If you can make the argument that you're the best in the world at what you do, you don't get an opportunity to be around people who can say that. Clearly in the case of Dan Gable and the sport of wrestling, we can say that."
After retiring as head wrestling coach at the UI, Gable served as assistant to the director of athletics in charge of performance enhancement at the UI until fully retiring in January. Gable resides in Iowa City with his wife, Kathy. The Gables have four daughters : Jenni Mitchell, Annie Gavin, Molly Olszta and Mackenzie, and six grandchildren.
Gable said he has a vision and has set his post-retirement goals beyond the sport of wrestling.
"I'm not finished yet. I always say the best is yet to come," Gable said. "If that's the case, then it has to be pretty high. I don't just represent the Hawkeyes -- and I know everybody wants to stop there -- but I've been lucky enough to be able to represent the Cyclones and grow up around the (University of Northern Iowa) Panthers and be watched by the state of Iowa and by the United States and the world. The one thing I think I can bring to this FryFest is that it's not just about within the boundaries of the United States of America."