By David Krueger Herald Writer
Some families pass down recipes. Others hand trinkets and other family heirlooms from generation to generation.
For the Iversen family wrestling has grappled its way through the family lines.
This season, three Iversens — brothers Craig and Sherm and their father Rick — all head Wesco wrestling programs. They’re a living example that wrestling with your family members isn’t always a bad thing.
Just the other day a pair of Iversens were talking wrestling, and a match broke out.
“Dad was showing me moves on the living room floor just last week at Christmas,” Sherm said.
And when Rick Iversen talks wrestling, people listen.
The eldest Iversen started wrestling for Sedro-Woolley when he was in high school, back when there were only three wrestling programs in the state: the Cubs, Fife and Stadium of Tacoma.
Iversen didn’t win a title in high school and that “tore (him) up,” so he went and won a community college championship at Skagit Valley College. Then he went to Western to wrestle and his first year there the wrestling coach abruptly left and left an interesting situation for Iversen.
“I was the warmest body to coach,” he said. “I was the most mature of the kids around and they came to me and said, ‘Would you want to coach?’ Did I want to be a player-coach?”
He said yes and a legendary coaching career was born. Iversen is in the Washington State Hall of Fame, as well as the National Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame.
While coaching at Western a couple other Iversens began roaming the gymnasium during wrestling practice: Craig and Sherm.
“Craig and I grew up with it,” Sherm Iversen said. “When Dad was coaching at (Western), Craig and I were always hanging out at the gym and we ran around every hall at that college.”
Rick Iversen was careful not to push wrestling on his kids. If they wanted to do it that was fine with him, but he just wanted to make sure Craig and Sherm did what made them happy.
“I’ve seen so many coaches make the mistake of trying to relive their lives through their kids. I told my boys if you collect butterflies I’ll be a fan,” Rick said. “And I meant it. They chose to wrestle because they’ve been around it. They were never forced in.”
Craig and Sherm said they both were eager to participate in wrestling, in part because they grew up around it. They wrestled for Rick at MP before their own wrestling careers took them into coaching spots.
Sherm graduated in 1983, and wrestled for a couple years before he got in a car accident prior to his junior year.
“It pretty much ended my wrestling career,” Sherm said. “But I stayed involved and was able to grow with the sport. I tried to wrestle again in college and couldn’t get around my injury, so I started coaching.”
Meanwhile, Craig tore up the mats at Marysville Pilchuck. Before graduating in 1988, he was a two-time state champion in the 168-pound weight class and ranked nationally coming out of high school. After wrestling at Central Washington, Craig became a head coach at Burlington.
A few miles down the road, Sherm took over the wrestling program for Sedro-Woolley
“Our first coaching jobs came at the same time,” Sherm said. “… and it was a big rivalry. That was fun.”
Four years later Sherm, who had been an assistant coach for Brent Barnes at Lake Stevens for five years before becoming a head coach, moved to Cascade. Soon after, Craig took up his father’s mantle at Marysville Pilchuck.
He filled his coaching staff out with some familiar faces.
“The entire staff is Marysville grads and they all wrestled under my father,” Craig said. “And I believe they’re in it because they had a great experience.”
Rick Iversen, who is constantly met by former coaches and wrestlers after meets, has passed coaching talents along to more than just his sons.
“At one time I had 50 people in the state coaching wrestling that had wrestled for me,” Rick said. “And now I’m coaching again, and a lot of those people have retired.”
This weekend Craig will host the MP Premier, with about 17 teams — including Arlington and Jackson — coming to Marysville Pilchuck for the wrestling tournament. The event was started by Rick back when he was the coach for the Tomahawks.
“We do believe it’s one of the premier invites in Snohomish County,” Craig said.
This year, Rick had to lobby his son to get a few Arlington kids in the tournament he began.
“My boy wasn’t going to let me in. He’s a jerk,” Rick said with a big smile. “His tournament was full. He said, ‘OK Dad bring some of your kids.’ He just plays me along like he’s reeling me in.”
The Iversens have a history of wrestling against each other. Craig is 3-0 against Rick, going back to his days at Burlington. He most recently defeated his father at the so-called “Iversen-o-rama,” a dual meet between Marysville Pilchuck and Arlington on Dec. 13.
Sherm, who is in his first year coaching at Jackson after coaching at a middle school since 2004, has never wrestled against his father. The record for when Craig and Sherm faced off against each other is more of a mystery.
“It was always fun. It’s never been negative at all,” Sherm said of wrestling against Craig’s teams. “Our teams have still won a couple from him and he owns a few from us. I don’t even know where the tally is and I don’t think he does either. Maybe I say that because he might have the edge on me.”
“I think he’s probably being nice,” Craig said. “He’s probably ended up on the upper end of that more times than I have.”
When they’re not wrestling each other, Craig said the Iversens “absolutely root for each other.” When they are, everybody agrees it’s a lot of fun. They’re also really excited to not only all be coaching again, but all be in the same league.
“It’s fun when we wrestle each other,” Craig said. “We were both north in a great time of high school athletics. We had some great matches in those gyms it was a wonderful atmostphere. I can’t believe how fortunate it was to have my brother step back in and my father to step in and have us all three in Wesco. It’s pretty special.”
Rick Iversen also has a foster son, a wrestler from Japan named Hiromi Nara. He was a national champion in Japan, and came to live with the Iversen family. Nara coached at Everett High School, and was an assistant with Rick at MP for 15 years.
Rick said he wanted to become a wrestling coach, because when he was in school his “teachers and coaches were my heroes.” He’s since mentored countless young men, garnering praise from numerous people over the years, including his sons.
“Everybody’s got stories and stuff that are fun. But I’m really proud of my dad and everything he’s done,” Sherm said. “And my brother. But they wouldn’t ever talk about themselves too much.”
Perhaps the only person prouder is Rick Iversen.
“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.”