Cyclone Fanatic wrestling reporter Jacqueline Cordova sat down with Brent Metcalf to discuss his first season at Iowa State after being promoted .
Q: How have you felt about this season overall?
Metcalf: I think it’s been really good. It’s been above expectations, if you want to say that, just because of the consistency. As far as the guys doing a really good job and continuing to do a really good and answering the bell every single weekend. Even in our losses, and this is me being positive, there was a lot of fight and a lot of the things we’ve been talking about for a year and a half or two years, whatever we are on now. We’re starting to see that now.
Q: What has your individual time with the guys been like?
Metcalf: I think that it takes time to develop relationships and trust, to get to where we are now. I think right off the bat there was great relationships with guys but as far as the result and trying to get them to connect to the things you’re teaching them…Maybe that’s one thing I’ve kind of learned. When I first got here, I was like, ‘Alright these are the things these guys need to work on this’ whether it be technique or mentality or anything, just pick a topic, but it was frustrating because it wasn’t happening. Like, ‘Why aren’t you connecting?’ I think over time, I’ve learned that it takes time and they have to trust you, that you’re really in their best interest before that starts to happen. Maybe that’s not set and stone but that’s how it’s felt like. Now, I feel like this relationship is great both ways and next thing you know you’re seeing the product.
Q: How do you think this team got to the point where they’re describing the wrestling room this season as a fun room to be in and somewhere they want to be?
Metcalf: I hope that last year was a fun room too. I think as a wrestler and this is me just generalizing or guessing I obviously don’t know exactly what they mean, but I think as a wrestler when you’re in a program that’s a good program, there is some sickness to it. So, when a room is really hard and you step in everyday and you’re going to be challenged…you may get your butt kicked that day, when you have the right attitude that’s going to be fun. It’s a heck of a lot more fun then punching the card, going through the motions and not being challenged, if that makes sense. So when I hear that what I hear is that you have a group of guys who want to get along and are enjoying the process of pushing each other. It always becomes a competition, right? Whether it’s sprints or one-on-ones or who is going to score the most takedowns, that challenge makes the wrestling room fun. They enjoy coming to the room everyday and that means that when you come, you’re working. That means they’re enjoying the work and challenging each other, ya know? That’s where growth happens.
Q: Speaking of growth, what have you seen out of yourself in the process of the rebuild of this program?
Metcalf: Coming into a program that’s rebuilding was really good because I came from a program, at least where I wrestled and trained, where a lot of things were already established. Whether it be expectations in the room or when you walked in there was already a level and then you’d think ‘ok how much higher can we get it?’
Well, coming in here none of these things were established. Whether it was expectations, a mindset or, ‘hey this is how we operate’ or whether it was your club or fundraising. There were so many things that weren’t established so it’s all been built. Just the nature of building a program has been unbelievable for me to kind of see the whole process from start to finish and we’re not even finished yet. You come in and you think you have a certain idea like, ‘Ok I am going to come in and do this’ and then you learn, ‘Ok, that’s not working so I need to find a different way.’ That takes time. That’s been one of the biggest things, is expecting it to all happen now, ya know? Which it’s still a work in progress and after two years we’re starting to see that.
Q: What has been tough about adjusting to your new role as the assistant coach?
Metcalf: I don’t know if any of it is tough because you’re comparing it to like being a wrestler and an athlete because that’s how you compare your life. Compared to what you did, ya know? To me it’s all just a challenge and you just have to tackle it.
I think the biggest challenge being a new coach is, well what does tough mean? There could be a lot of things. Recruiting is tough. Only because there’s a lot of letdown. When I say tough, I don’t throw around the word tough around a lot but it’s not tough in that it is hard. It’s tough in that you put a lot of emotion and energy into connecting with individuals and it’s their choice so they may or may not come. So, I think that’s a new challenge that I had no idea or expectations for. It takes a lot of work. It’s not as simple as making some phone calls. Especially nowadays, there’s a lot to it. So that’s something that’s been new for me and more than I expected, if that’s even the right word for it.
The wrestling room is everything I expected as far as the amount of work that it takes to put in. I expected that it wouldn’t be an instant turn around.
Q: What have you been able to learn from Kevin Dresser and his experience?
Metcalf: I’ve learned that he is a work horse and he is 24/7, go go go. There’s just so many pieces going on at once and he’s working on them all, all the time. I knew this because I came from a big program, but I think when I came in I thought just worry about the wrestling. That’s all that matters. If you wrestle, you win. That’s it. There’s just so much more to it then that and I think that’s a lot of where I can start like, “Ok recognize and understand how important the wrestling is but everything else is just as important too.’ You can’t just go to the wrestling room and do practice everyday. There’s more than that to run the program or grow what you want. Winning is a part of that so wrestling has to be your priority. But, the same energy needs to be put into all these other places too. Maybe a year ago, I may have had the attitude that’s like, ‘Oh that’s not important.’ It doesn’t matter if we do socials, it doesn’t matter if we do fundraising, it doesn’t matter if we do appearances because I am just here to do wrestling.
This year specifically has been really good because he’s been really taking over in the wrestling room and that’s been good for me to see how he does it because it’s obviously different from how I thought I would’ve done it if it was just me doing it. Also just to see the guys respond to it has been good.
Q: What has the team been able to teach you?
Metcalf: Well, these kids are little millennials, I think they teach me something everyday. I think that the team has probably taught me that there’s 100 different ways to skin a cat. Technically, every kid is different and every kid learns differently. As far as what have the kids taught me? It’s that they’re helping me to learn the different ways to deal with them individually and other kids similar to them, if that makes sense. The way I trained and the way I operated doesn’t work for a whole lot of guys. I kind of knew that but that’s even more evident now. It wasn’t that I was hardcore train, train train, don’t smile, don’t laugh. But a lot of what I did on my own, separately, people didn’t see that I relaxed and had a good time and I think that’s a really important element.
Q: What kind of coach do you hope you’ve been able to be in the room for these guys?
Metcalf: I’m not very good with adjectives but I hope that the type of coach I am to these guys is one that cares about them, one that they can trust and one that they know I will equally go to the ends of the earth to serve them and get them what they need. I think that’s probably the biggest thing is that trust. I think there’s a good balance that I want them to like me but I don’t necessarily have to be their friend, I want there to be an ease.
I think some of the worst situations I was in or saw was when a kid was uncomfortable around the coach. As a coach, it’s my job to make you uncomfortable and to challenge you in the wrestling room but I want it to be very much a two-way street as far as communication. The best way I can serve you is if I can get in your head. To do that we need to be able to talk and understand what’s holding you back or when there’s a time that you’re really struggling mentally or physically that I can pull you back. I can’t just see those things so it’s really important to me to have those relationships that are open and we can communicate. That you aren’t scared to tell me that you have an “owey” today and then we can talk about it and I can determine that it isn’t an “owey” and you can go today. I think that’s really important to me. That’s what I would hope they would get out of our relationship, that I am that type of coach. To know that whatever I am doing whether its telling you that “I know that you’re hurt but you’re going” or “I know you say you can go but I know you’re hurting”.
Q: For the people who don’t know you very well, what is important for them to know about you?
Metcalf: I mean, here is how I was raised: Be a good person and do your best. That’s what is most important to me. So, I don’t really care what people think about me but I do care that people know that I am a good person.
After college, I think there was a lot of thoughts that I was this big jerk and stuff and again, I don’t really care but I want people to know that I am a good person. I didn’t want people to know that I’m pretty laid back, fun, relaxed guy and probably a little crazy and a little hyper too. But when it comes to wrestling, especially when I competed, that was like the most important thing to me in the entire world. So, there was no fun and games when it came to me. At least, when it came down to being on the mat. That was business to me. That was my priority.
I think it’s also important to know that I love my family. My family time, when you’re a coach, it’s not minimal but it’s smaller. It seems smaller than I thought. When I have the opportunity to be away from here then I am there with my family. That’s something about me and it’s that my family is important. I have it tattooed on my back so it better be.
Q: What does a perfect day look like for Brent Metcalf?
Metcalf: It depends! Is it a me afternoon or a family afternoon? I can’t do both but it has to be family. I can’t choose myself.
I’m going to make this up off the cuff. Spring is coming up, there’s no wrestling practice that day. Not that I don’t want to be at wrestling practice but this is a free day off. So, I am getting up at 4 a.m. and I’m going to drive to the nearest turkey woods. One of my favorite things to do is that first hour in the woods and hearing them gobble. So, I’ll hunt for an hour or two be out of there by 7. Come home. When I’m feeling frisky, I like to make breakfast like blueberry pancakes or waffles. I wish I could make hash browns because I love them but I just can’t make them. I always mess them up. Then, pick some kind of outdoor activity and spend time outdoors as a family. Then, everybody goes down for a nap including the five year old who doesn’t nap for two hours. Have some sanity time and watch some Netflix. Then they’re up again and have some afternoon play. I really love playing and it doesn’t even have to be an adventure, I like when it’s nicer out to just be out in the front yard. Then, the babysitter comes over and we get to do date night. Then come home and go to bed.
Q: Dresser said you have one of the most consistent positive attitudes in a coach. What does it mean to you to hear that?
Metcalf: Well that’s good because I try to be consistently positive. I’m not really a moody guy, ya know? I’m more of a happy guy. I was probably annoying to some people. I like to bring people up. I mean, that’s the type of person I try to be. I try to be someone who brings good energy and attitude to whatever situation. That’s part of how I was raised. I don’t know if optimistic is the right word but being who you are regardless of the situation. So, in the wrestling match you compete how you compete regardless if the ref is screwing ya or the crowd is booing ya, it doesn’t change your approach to the match and that’s the same thing about life. If you’re traveling and your plane gets canceled, it’s out of your control so it shouldn’t effect you.