I never wrestled in high school. If I had I would have known at least one, maybe two, of the Iversens.
They’re a legendary family in the tightly-knit wrestling community.
The wrestling legacy began with Rick Iversen. It was not passed down to him by his father. In fact, in the beginning his father wasn’t a fan of him wrestling.
That all changed with one meet.
“My dad didn’t want me to wrestle,” Iversen said. “He thought it was kind of a nasty, brutish sport. And he came to my first match thinking he was going to tell me to quit. I won that night and he became a fan and he followed me right till the end.”
All Iversen did after that was coach hundreds of athletes, including two special wrestlers in particular: his sons Craig and Sherm Iversen, who have carried on the tradition of being wrestling coaches.
“I think it was a great childhood,” Craig said. “I think anyone that grows up the son of a coach, growing up around the gym and the athletic situation. I get to be around other coaches and role models being exposed to great leaders.”
Like their dad.
After every wrestling match I’ve attended with Rick Iversen (so, both of them) former wrestlers, coaches and friends come up to him to give him a hug and say hello. Once last Saturday’s Everett Classic – which was at Sherm’s Jackson High School – ended, I was interviewing Rick and a former wrestler came up and asked me to take a picture of him and Rick.
I felt like I was in the presence of a celebrity. After hearing his accolades – Washington State Hall of Fame, National Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame – it became obvious I was.
Rick is a wrestling legend. In fact, “legend” seems like an understatement.
“He is pretty accomplished,” Sherm said.
Rick said he doesn’t worry about the accolades. He just wants to coach. He seems legitimately proud that his sons have taken up coaching wrestling as well.
“I’ve had my successes,” Rick said. “I’ve done my thing. I’ve got a few trophies and medals that are in a box somewhere that I never look at. … And my boys aren’t in to commemorative things either. They’re into helping kids. And I’m really proud of that.”
When he was at Marysville Pilchuck, Rick started the MP Premier, an annual wrestling tournament hosted by the Tomahawks. Craig is continuing the MP tournament, and made father work a little bit to get into the tournament.
“My boy wasn’t going to let me in. He’s a jerk,” Rick said while holding back laughter. “His tournament was full. He said, ‘okay Dad bring some of your better kids.’ He just plays me along like he’s reeling me in.”
In the end, Rick was successful in getting a few of his Arlington kids into the tournament. He won’t be attending, because he will be running a junior varsity tournament at Arlington this weekend, but has another established coach, Jim Smoots, leading the Eagles at MP.
Sherm will also bring the Jackson wrestlers, making all three of the Iversens’ teams in attendance.
It’s really easy to see that all the Iversens are immensely proud of each other. Sherm talks about Craig’s accomplishments while at MP. Craig talks about his father’s hall of fame honors. Rick talks about how happy he is that Sherm and Craig are now coaches in the same league.
“I don’t have words for how proud I am of my kids,” Rick said. “My boys were never any trouble. They didn’t give me a day of grief. Not one day of grief. And now they honor me by doing what I did all my life. It’s unbelievable.”
Then I, ever the joker (which my boss loves by the way), made a comment about how I bet my mom wishes she could say the same thing about me.
Spoiler alert: I was a terror.
Rick looked at me, and, very reassuringly said: “You know something, David. I don’t have to know you any better than I do to know she would.”
And you know what? I believed him. I can see why his wrestling teams love and trust him. He seems like the NICEST person in the world.
And one hell of a coach.