From the sidelines
Looking out the window of small airplane pulling away from the Blacksburg-Roanoke regional airport, Kevin Dresser probably smiled Monday afternoon.
It may have also been a little sad as he expressed mixed emotions shortly before departing for Iowa as the new wrestling coach at Iowa State.
“Southwest Virginia has been very, very good to me. I have been blessed. It finally became a reality this past weekend that we were leaving when I looked around at an empty house. My time here has been bitter sweet, and it became our home. We have a lot of friends still here, but this (Iowa State) was a great opportunity for me and my family,” Dresser said.
Family and friends gathered Saturday at Auburn Hills Golf Course in Riner not only to say goodbye to Kevin, but his whole family. The former Virginia Tech wrestling coach was hired in January to take over the program at Iowa State.
His daughter, Anna, had become a big part of the Auburn girls’ soccer team; being named the conference player of the year this past season.
She will attend high school in Gilbert, Iowa, and has already met with her new teammates.
Her father has turned the area into a wrestling mecca. You could say he is leaving his mark on at least three wrestling programs in Southwest Virginia, and possibly building the foundation for those to follow.
After being an assistant coach at the University of Iowa, Dresser came to Grundy to take over a program that had started to have some success. He led Grundy to eight state titles in all eight years that he was there.
Dresser then brought his coaching talents to Christiansburg High School, building a program that has now won 16 straight state championships, five of them under his direction.
When Virginia Tech came knocking, Dresser saw an opportunity to build a national contender. He took over for Tom Brands who had just taken the job at the University of Iowa. In 11 seasons, Dresser was 160-51 with two ACC tournament championships and three ACC Dual Championships. Last year, he was named the National Wrestling Coach of the Year.
“I am proud what we were able to accomplish at all three places. I can walk away knowing that I am leaving them in better places and with better programs,” said Dresser. “Virginia Tech should be strong for a long while as we laid the foundation for a great program.”
Dresser is an Iowa native and most of his immediate family still lives there, so the decision to take the job was a no-brainer.
He is a native of Humboldt, Iowa where he was a two-time high school wrestling state champion with a record of 112-11-1. Dresser then headed to the University of Iowa where he was a NCAA champion at 142 pounds, and a two-time All-American finishing with a collegiate record of 34-2-1.
He leaves behind here in Virginia a great Blue Demon program and Christiansburg Wrestling Club that train in a place called “Hawkeye Hall.” Fundraising is held at Hawkeye Bingo and there used to be both a screen-printing company and storage units named after Dresser’s former school, the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Dresser should receive some credit for bringing some outstanding coaches to the New River Valley that continues to groom young wrestlers on a daily basis. He also leaves behind a great foundation at Virginia Tech.
Kevin Dresser, your name, will always be held high in connection to the success of young wrestlers in our area. Thanks for the memories and good luck in your future endeavors and the next chapter in your wrestling life.
Maybe somewhere down the road, Iowa State will square off against Virginia Tech for a national championship on the mats.