CANTON — During the school year Gabe Dean helps coach one of the top college wrestling programs in the nation.
This week he was in Canton, working with a number of the top wrestlers in the region.
Dean worked with the kids at Canton’s wrestling camp as around 50 wrestlers took part in the camp, including Troy’s state champion Sheldon Seymour and a number of the area’s other top wrestlers.
“It’s one of the things i love to do in the spring and summer is come give back to the sport that’s done so much for me,” Dean said. “This is a great group here, so I’m really excited about it.”
For Dean working with kids is a little different than college, but it’s very rewarding.
“It’s a different kind of experience,” he said. “You are teaching a lot more basics and fundamentals, the young kids are just as fun to work with as the college guys in their own way.”
One of the things Dean sees with younger wrestlers is their dedication to the sport.
“Your love for the sport continues to grow and your passion for it continues to grow and just seeing these kids and how dedicated they are is inspiring,” Dean said.
One of the things that makes wrestling different than other sports is how close the sport is.
There aren’t many other sports where kids get a chance to work with a four-time All-American and two-time National Champion like Dean.
“Wrestling is a small tight-knit community at the end of the day,” Dean said. “It’s what makes it special. I’m glad I choose wrestling and I’m a part of this sport.”
It’s something special for Dean when he has kids tell him they watched him wrestle and enjoy meeting him.
“I remember when I was their age, not too long ago, it seems like yesterday, it’s humbling,” Dean said.
After wrestling at the collegiate level, Dean is enjoying the chance to coach at Cornell.
“Coaching at the college level is a lot more stressful, a lot more emotional,” Dean said. “You are wrestling with all the guys out there. You are not just taking care of your business. You feel like you want it more for them than they do. It takes a lot out of you, but it’s one of the most rewarding professions in the world.”
One of the special parts of coaching at Cornell is the chance for Gabe to work with his younger brother Max.
“As I have gone through my life I just feel like God has really blessed me with amazing opportunities,” Dean said. “That’s just another one. Max is just such an amazing young man. He does all the right things. To be able to be in his corner is truly a blessing. I feel like I’m spoiled, I live a truly blessed life.”
When he watches Max wrestle there is more emotion for Gabe than even when he wrestled.
“100% it’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in this sport,” Dean said.
And, when Max wins and Gabe is in the corner, it’s just a magical moment for the brothers.
“I don’t even know if I can put into words,” Gabe said. “You are so proud, you are so excited, you are so happy. You are so in awe and inspired. There are so many emotions going through you.”
With the talent Cornell has on their roster next year, Dean is excited to see what the program can do.
“I am really looking forward to it,” Dean said. “I think our recruiting is going well. I think everyone on our staff, coach (Rob) Koll, myself, (Mike) Grey, Kyle Dake, all do a wonderful job taking care of their things and their business. I’ve learned a lot from each of them and they are all really good at different things. I’m trying to do my piece and make sure Cornell stays at the top of the game.”
One of the special things about the staff for Dean is how much the school means to them all.
“Our whole staff, outside of coach Koll, who graduated from North Carolina, are Cornell grads,” Dean said. “It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty special, I think it’s unique. I don’t think there are a lot of staffs out there like that in the country.”