February 2013

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Embrace the Plunge By Chris Brewer T om Brands knew it was crazy. Kirk Ferentz knew it was crazy. Heck, even Clark Griswold would have told you it was crazy. But as the great ones often do, they stripped down to their shorts and took the plunge. The Hawkeye Wrestling Club raised more than $25,000 last year at the inaugural HWC Plunge when Ferentz, Brands, and dozens of otherwise well-minded supporters raced into the icy waters in Riverside, Iowa. Thirty men and women entered with 600 fingers and toes, and because they eventually emerged as a collective unit, they've decided to do it again. "I remember Ferentz didn't flinch," said Brands, "and the reason the event might have received national attention is because there was a lot of focus on Ferentz. I don't think there would have been a coach in the SEC willing to do that. I think it's a testament to what he's got below the waist line." Brands said the advent of the cold tub and incorporating it into training and recovery may have made last year's plunge tolerable, but an element of surprise always exists when you mess with Mother Nature. "I did not flinch but I had to talk myself into it," said Brands. "It's different from being in the controlled environment of a cold tub… as far as going full submerge or under the ice or chopping the ice out of a body of water. It's a good testament to maybe what you're made out of. "I've been in Russia before where you have a hotbox and you basically walk into three feet of snow, lie 25 down and do a snow angel, and then run back into a hotbox. But it was actually a part of your recovery and training phase. Here it's more of an event. There it was a sanctuary." The Hawkeye Wrestling Club was established in 1973 with a mission to provide the training, coaching and resources necessary to help post-collegiate athletes pursue their dreams of becoming World and Olympic Champions. The Plunge is one of many events the Club hosts throughout the year. Other fundraisers include golf outings, the HWC Shoot, and the annual HWC Banquet. The proceeds from each event benefit Club members by assisting with living, training, and traveling expenses. Tom and Terry Brands were members of the HWC during their Olympic runs in 1996 and 2000, and current club members include Daniel Dennis, Dan Erekson, Phil Keddy, Luke Lofthouse, Brent Metcalf, Ryan Morningstar, and Lloyd Rogers. "We're overwhelmed by the response we get each year from fans willing to support the Club," said Kyle Beaird, an HWC board member and emcee of the HWC Plunge. "Any time you can support a young man's Olympic dream, you have to show up and do it. "The HWC has been producing Olympic athletes since Chuck Yagla, Barry Davis, Randy Lewis, and the Banach boys in the '80s, and the fact that people are willing to jump into the ice-cold water because they believe in the kids chasing those dreams is pretty remarkable."

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