April 20, 2012
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CORALVILLE, Iowa — The goal Terry Steiner pursues is multiple Olympic medals. The mission he pursues is contributing to the success of women.
Steiner, a three-time University of Iowa wrestling All-American, and the outstanding wrestler at the 1993 NCAA National Championships, returns to Iowa City this weekend as United States national team coach for women’s freestyle wrestling.
Steiner has been in that position since 2002 and has led the United States women’s teams into the Olympics in 2004 and ’08.
“We have a very simple goal as stated by USA Wrestling and the USA Olympic Committee. They want medals,” Steiner said Friday at a pre-event press conference at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. “Our mission better be a lot larger than that. I want to see these athletes 10 years, 20 years down the road in successful lives, careers and marriages, and hopefully I can use the sport of wrestling to move them forward so they can utilize what the sport has given to all of us.”
Steiner lettered for the Hawkeyes from 1990-93. Although an individual Big Ten title eluded him, Steiner placed third at 150 pounds at the NCAA Championships in 1991, and followed that by placing fifth in 1992, and first in 1993, when he used a takedown at the buzzer to defeat Penn State’s Troy Sunderland, 8-7, in one of the most memorable finishes in NCAA wrestling history.
This weekend Steiner returns to Carver-Hawkeye Arena, site of some great collegiate memories.
“Being back here and knowing what wrestling means to this community and this state and this university; it’s exciting and I knew that coming in,” Steiner said.
Steiner brought the Olympic women’s wrestling hopefuls to Iowa City to train for a month at the end of 2011. On Dec. 2, some of the female wrestlers competed in an exhibition bout before the Hawkeyes wrestled Illinois.
“The one thing we talked about on the way here was you’re going to see there’s a great appreciation for the sport of wrestling, and it’s always helpful to anyone when they know that what they’re doing is very much appreciated,” Steiner said. “When I was getting recruited here as a high school athlete, coach (Dan) Gable talked about the Iowa fans and the importance on wrestling, and it’s really hard to understand that as a high school athlete. But once we stepping into the arena for the first time and there were 10, 12, 15,000 people, you get an idea real quick. And on a daily basis to go in and do what you’re doing, and know you’re being appreciated, and that’s one thing this place highlights more than anything.”
The United States women’s team will compete in four weight classes at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Steiner said that when USA Wrestling hired him, the organization was looking for a coach and an advocate.
“I knew I had to be able to have a backbone about it and be able to stand up and fight for these girls,” Steiner said. “Coaching is coaching, educating is educating, motivating is motivating, no matter what level you’re at. It’s been very rewarding for me.”
The U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials begin Saturday at 9 a.m. (CT) with Session I. The women’s freestyle team will decide its representative at 55kg and 72kg on Saturday, and 48kg and 63 kg on Sunday.
“Wrestling is good for everyone,” Steiner said. “We pride ourselves as a wrestling community that wrestling is a sport for everyone. It truly is a sport for everyone.”