For most elite wrestlers, the challenge of working their life (school, family, job etc"¦) into their wrestling career is a daily struggle. Wrestling is priority #1 and everything else tends to suffer. Typically, when a wrestler is done competing, they have to make up for lost time in the so-called real world. The choice of deferring their career path in order to fulfill their dream of becoming an Olympic champion has set them back. This turns out to be a struggle equal if not greater than their challenges on the mat.
Ryan Tobin was exactly opposite.
"I had straight A's throughout high school," said Ryan. "The question wasn't "if" I was going to college it was "where." I don't know if school necessarily came easy for me or my grades reflected the amount of hard work I put into my studies. I always rose to the challenge when it came to my schoolwork and athletics; I wanted to distinguish myself as a student-athlete."
"I was a late bloomer as far as wrestling was concerned," said Ryan. "I didn't have programs recruiting me out of high school and that was fine. My choice in the college I went to was not solely about wrestling. It was about planning for my future; where could I have the best opportunity for life."
"I chose Nebraska as the college I wanted to attend and I walked on their team. I guess you could say I recruited Nebraska they didn't recruit me!"
This is just a sampling of Ryan's achievements:
Ryan was a three-time NCAA All-American (placing 8th, 3rd and 4th)
Ended college with a 3.75 G.P.A.
Three-time NWCA Academic All-American.
Selected as a two-time GTE 1st team Academic All-American. This recognizes the top eight athletes in all sports NATIONALLY for their academic and athletic achievements. This is a very prestigious award and very few people will ever hold this honor.
Ryan also earned an NCAA Post Graduate Scholarship
"After college I wanted to make a push for the 2000 Olympics but cutting weight kind of took it out of me and I didn't feel like pursuing wrestling at that time," said Ryan. "I continued in wrestling by coaching at Nebraska and helping Brad Vering, (2004 Olympic Team member) win a national championship."
"While I was coaching, I was also in graduate school at Nebraska, completing my MBA (Masters in Business). After I finished my MBA I continued to coach and went straight into law school at Nebraska as well."
In 2002 after Ryan finished law school he decided to commit to training for the 2004 Olympics and moved to Venice Beach, CA to train with Markus Mollica at the RAW training center in El Segundo, CA.
"While training in California, Ryan was extended an opportunity to wrestle for the Texas Shooters in Real Pro Wrestling. RPW is the first professional wrestling league for REAL wrestling in the history of sports and television.
"It was great to be part of wrestling history and give back to the sport," said Ryan. "I really hope RPW succeeds, it will be great for wrestling." Ryan was also one of the original athletes in the Real Pro Wrestling pilot shot in 2002.
"After about six months in California I had the opportunity to become a resident at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs, CO," said Ryan "The OTC is the best training facility in the world, with the best coaches and training environment. I committed to training there in pursuit of fulfilling my dream of becoming an Olympic champion in 2004."
"While training full-time I also studied for the Bar Exam about six hours a day. It was a big relief to pass the Bar and get that out of the way."
After a year at the OTC, Ryan decided to take a coaching position with the University of Pennsylvania. "There were some coaching changes at the OTC and I felt I had a better opportunity at Penn," said Ryan.
Ryan gave it his all but fell short of his goal of representing the USA at the 2004 Olympic Games. His competitive career came to an end at the final Olympic Trials, just a few steps away from making the team.
"While at Penn I had great opportunities to network and explore possible career paths after wrestling. It came down to 3 choices for me: stay at Penn and continue to coach, move to South Dakota and do tax law or move to Colorado and do real estate development. I fell in love with Colorado when I was there training, so I chose to move to Denver, CO and do the real estate development."
Ryan pursued his athletic and academic goals for many years. He worked extremely hard (and smart) in both disciplines and blazed a trail of success in both areas.
My challenge to all that read this article is this:
Kids "Set your goals like Ryan did and try to follow in his footsteps and you will have a grate role model to follow.
Coaches and Parents "Set goals for your kids on and off the mat that will allow them to be champions in all areas of life; Use Ryan's template as a guide and you will have a solid foundation to grow on.
Ryan is an example we should all follow"¦He is a successful: scholar, athlete and individual.
Coaches Corner with Ryan Tobin
For the kids:
Work hard and have fun.
For the parents:
Don't push your kid too hard. The drive comes from within them not you.
For other coaches:
More isn't always better.