Mashek named Register's prep coach of the year
North Scott of Eldridge's Mashek goes out with flourish

By JOHN NAUGHTON
REGISTER STAFF WRITER


August 14, 2007
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Eldridge, Ia. - Dan Mashek's wrestling accomplishments are neatly outlined on a coffee table in his basement.

An Iowa-record 519 dual-meet wins, 28 individual champions and five state team titles.

Mashek retired after last season at North Scott of Eldridge as the state's winningest coach. Yet he's a humble man.

"I'm always saying, what's past is past," said Mashek, who plans to continue teaching social studies.

Mashek, 60, has been named The Des Moines Register's high school coach of the year.

He coached for 30 years at Don Bosco of Gilbertville, winning four traditional and one dual team title. He's spent the last seven seasons at North Scott.

Mashek's final squad set school records with six state tournament place winners and 73 state tournament points. The team also equaled the school's best-ever state tournament finish with a sixth-place showing.

In his final match, North Scott's Stew Gillmor won the 145-pound Class 3-A title. The moment was emotional to Mashek and an assistant coach.

"I guess we both went back in the tunnel and cried," Mashek said.

Few coaches have stepped away from matside with so much success:

- His career mark of 519-105-5 ranks as Iowa's best. He's won more than 100 dual meets more than his closest state rival. That puts him in the nation's top 20 for wins, too.

-Mashek guided generations of future high school and college coaches and officials.

-He built solid programs based on athletes being in condition and aggressive.

Mashek was born in Waterloo, then the heart of Iowa's rich wrestling tradition. He learned from Hall of Fame coach Bob Siddens at Waterloo West.

A West teammate would also earn lasting coaching fame - Dan Gable. Mashek was a year older.

"What impressed his teammates was his dedication and his commitment and his work ethic," said Mashek, who has a photo of his Warhawk teammates in his basement.

Mashek attended Northern Iowa, following another coaching legend, Chuck Patton. By his senior year, he was determined to coach.

A neighbor tipped off Mashek about a job opening. Tiny Don Bosco, a Catholic school in Gilbertville southeast of Waterloo, was looking for its first full-time coach.

"I'd lived all my life in Waterloo and had never been there," Mashek said.

Mashek developed a method for getting the most out of his wrestlers. They weren't the most talented kids, but they became well-conditioned athletes.

"It doesn't take great talent to be in shape," Mashek said. "You'd get the other guys tired. The guys really bought into that philosophy."

Mashek also emphasized the ability to pin an opponent at any time. Athletes who trailed were never out until the whistle blew.

He recognized the value of the mental aspects of motivating athletes, or "coaching the head."

Some athletes were best served by getting in their faces; others by a quiet pat on the back.

He also touched the lives of athletes who never reached state, like the special education student who now wants to be a coach.

Mashek's first Don Bosco team went .500. The next season, the Dons went 4-7. That was his last losing year.

The 1979 squad went 12-for-12 - sending wrestlers to the traditional state tournament in every weight class. That team won a title, followed by three championship squads in the 1980s.

Mashek moved to North Scott in 2000, in part to be closer to family members. He led North Scott to top 10 finishes in the last three seasons. He leaves a career with the philosophy of success learned from struggles and occasional failure.

It's one that transcends sports, he said.

"We can't quit in life," Mashek said.