connects preps, college coaches

Updated: November 3, 2010

Les Anderson always prided himself as an assistant college coach who got a lot mileage out of walk-ons back when he was part of the Iowa State staffs that won six NCAA titles. Anderson spent two stints in Ames, (1964-1974 and 1979-1992) and helped ISU win 34 individual titles during that time.

Bryan Van Kley

Inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004, Anderson has had a passion for helping motivated prep wrestlers who want to wrestle in college. Now at 72 years of age, that passion has turned into a new business venture which will dramatically change recruiting in the wrestling world as we know it.

“Our philosophy is very simple. We believe that every kid who wants to wrestle at the next level should have that opportunity,” Anderson told me this fall when discussing this new undertaking with his son-in-law-turned-business-partner Bob Larson.

Anderson, Larson, and company saw a real need in the college recruiting process. They felt that good prep wrestlers, without national credentials, have a hard time getting their names on the radar screens of college coaches. In addition, it is difficult for coaches to find prospective student-athletes efficiently.

As of Oct. 29, there now is a place for those two groups to come together:

“I’m still of the opinion that the vast majority of high school programs have a three-month season and after that the practice room door is locked,” Anderson said.

So how do the better kids in those programs get noticed by college coaches? The internet site is that “introduction point.”

It’s not designed to publicize the blue-chip prep athletes. The top Division I programs have those kids on their radar screen for a number of years. What the site will do is help kids who may not be heavily recruited get their wrestling and academic information out there for coaches to see. In Anderson’s words, it’s perfect for the “Ben Petersons, the Eric Voelkers, Mike Van Arsdales and Jim Duschens of the world,” referencing former ISU wrestlers who were not elite preps but went on to become Olympic and national champs and All-Americans.

“I think we have kids who don’t necessarily know what’s available to them and that they can wrestle. And there’s coaches out there who are saying, ‘Come look at us. We have stuff available for you that you’ve never dreamed of, and you can wrestle,’ ” Anderson added.

Les Anderson, Co-Owner

So how did Anderson get involved? Larson is a successful businessman who saw this gap in the recruiting process in wrestling and knew the highly-respected retired coach was just the person the start-up business would need to get the site off the ground.

Larson approached Anderson about the concept. Anderson and Larson quickly turned their focus to answering the question of how they were going to get high school kids to their site in the first place.

“No kid is going to sit down and Google to figure out how to get (their) profile in front of college coaches. But they might be Googling to find technique and that would get them over to the profile side,” Anderson said. “That’s how I ended up doing something I had always refused to do. I needed to make a (technique) video in order to make this happen.”

Larson knew immediately things had been taken to another level.

And so Anderson became what is believed to be the oldest coach ever to be featured in his own technique video. Anderson, Larson and company felt that by having high-level technique videos available on a sister site, (ad on page 59), they could create more publicity and awareness for their recruiting site and sell the videos as well.

Anderson on a plane on the way out to California soon after to create the technique videos. Anderson worked with two talented high school wrestlers from the Oak Ridge High School in the Sacramento area for three days shooting the technique.

To make Anderson’s voyage out West and onto the mat even more profound is that he’s a cancer survivor. When doctors found cancer in his hip in 2004, they gave him three to five years to live. He’s been alternating chemo and radiation treatments ever since. Other than periodic soreness in that hip, Anderson is still going strong and cancer didn’t stop this old coach from getting on the mat for the first time in 10 years to show the wrestling community some of his long-time secrets.

“I waited on takedowns until the last day because I was hurting so bad,” Anderson joked. “The takedown part is not quite as polished as I would have liked.” The former two-time NCAA champ added that he also allowed the preps to show the Russian whizzer series he wanted included.

Larson has been pleased with the response. Not having a background in wrestling, Larson called one of the first coaches to purchase the DVDs to find out how he got to their site. The rookie coach from Tennessee said the outgoing coach told him to go out and find anything he could by Anderson if he really wanted to learn technique.

With long-time wrestling broadcaster Scott Casber involved as a business partner who helps in promoting the site, is perfectly set up for coaches from every level of collegiate wrestling, from Division I all the way down to club programs and two-year junior colleges.

A free service to the coaches, they will be able to establish their own private and secure search location where they can compile information on recruits. The search directives will allow coaches to find prospective wrestlers by record, weight, graduation year and location.

Wrestlers will be able to post match videos, highlight videos, academic information and biographical information for coaches to see. Anderson and company feel the website will become that perfect “introduction” for wrestlers and coaches so more kids are given the opportunity to wrestle collegiately and college coaches’ jobs will be made easier in the area of recruiting.

Coach Anderson and company invite all high school wrestlers and college coaches to visit their two sites and to check them out.