Terry’s ‘Pack Mentality’ is available for many

Updated: February 18, 2011

Column by Chris McGowan

For centuries, carnivorous wolves, hunting in predatory packs, stalked their prey on the rugged plains of South Dakota. Despite thriving for countless generations however, these wolves, along with their pack mentality, disappeared from the eastern South Dakota landscape long ago.

Now, after an extended absence, the “Pack mentality” has returned and is flourishing along South Dakota’s border with Iowa. Led by a 43-year-old, former Marine, the Legends of Gold youth wrestling club of Beresford, South Dakota (and surrounding communities) is following an alpha male of their own in club founder Terry Pack.

Legends of Gold youth wrestling club founder, Terry Pack explains a new technique to one of his over 200 youth athletes.

Pack, a native of Sloan, Iowa, completed a four-year stint in the Marine Corps, then attended college participating in both football and wrestling and later added two separate master’s degrees in educational leadership and business. Known to his wrestlers as “Coach Pack,” Terry has launched several successful wrestling programs, including championship collegiate-level programs in Kansas and California.

Well credentialed in his own right, Pack is a former “College Coach of the Year,” and was Iowa’s “Rookie High School Coach of the Year” in 1994. His Kansas-based Neosho County Community College Panthers won a national junior college championship, as well as the academic national title under his leadership in 2002. He has coached multiple Olympians and World Team members, including Olympic bronze medalist Randi Miller, the only American woman to medal in Beijing in 2008.

After three-plus decades in wrestling, Pack is now pursuing a life-long dream to make world-class wrestling instruction available to kids through camps and clinics regardless of their socio-economic status.

In 2010, Pack, and his wife Lisa, stumbled upon a 40-acre former youth campus just outside of Beresford, S.D. Located on Interstate 29 roughly halfway between Sioux Falls, S.D., and Sioux City, Iowa, the Legends of Gold National Training Center is on schedule to offer summer residential wrestling camps throughout 2011.

The facilities, undoubtedly a diamond in the rough, still require a bit of elbow grease, but include multiple buildings including dormitories, athletic facilities and fields, a gymnasium, locker rooms, tennis courts, parks, sand volleyball and basketball courts, weight rooms, a commercial kitchen and numerous offices and living spaces for coaches and athletes alike.

In less than a year, the Legends of Gold youth wrestling movement is drawing young athletes from South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota to weekly satellite wrestling practices led by Pack. Before parents get too carried away with making little kids into future Olympians however, Pack deliberately slows the pace of the conversation and begins to emphasize both fun and fundamentals, sportsmanship instead of championships and character over caliber.

It’s not that Terry is opposed to winning. His own son, Cody, now a redshirt freshman at NCAA Division I South Dakota State in Brookings, went 192–12 as a prep in California and was a five-time All American at Fargo Nationals.

Today, however, Pack is focused on making sure little kids have the opportunities he didn’t have as a child.

“I was from a divorced family,” Pack reflected. “I didn’t have the money to go to camps at places like Iowa State. I was only able to attend one wrestling camp as a kid because my family couldn’t really afford it. So one of my goals is to give these kids the opportunity to see, meet and learn from Dan Gable, John Smith, Troy Steiner, and Jordan Burroughs without having to pay $500, $600 or $700 a week.

“I want to give them the same opportunity to see the top people in our sport at a price they can afford. For those who cannot afford our camps, I want them to benefit from a scholarship program that we are in the process of establishing right now.

“My vision for our camps is to allow every kid who wants to attend a summer wrestling camp to come to our camps, regardless of their ability to pay or any other obstacle for that matter, whether it be lack of money or they live too far away or whatever might prevent them from getting to camp. I simply want every kid to have the opportunities I didn’t have. I want them to have the opportunity to attend a top-level wrestling camp and experience top-level training.”

Recently, Legends of Gold was recognized as a not-for-profit organization and they are now awaiting approval of their application for 501(c)3 status.

“Our goal is not to make money, our goal is to create opportunities for kids to attend wrestling camp and have exposure to some of the best clinicians in the country,” Pack said.

With minimal overhead and a skeletal maintenance crew of just three (including his wife and 9-year-old daughter, Sydnee), Pack is on a mission to make residential wrestling camps affordable.

With a crammed summer schedule, Legends of Gold plans to offer residential and commuter wrestling camps from June 1 through August 6, 2011, including a 15-day intensive camp.

So what will define success for Terry Pack and his emerging athletic endeavor?

“I guess it would be nice if we could pay our bills,” Pack joked, then added, “I feel we’ve already exceeded many of our goals as we have grown from zero wrestlers to over 200 kids in less than three months. I now have the opportunity to have a positive impact on hundreds of kids each and every week through the sport of wrestling and that really defines success for me.”

The “Pack mentality” has a new definition and it sure appears to be good for youth wrestling in the rural Midwest.

For more information visit Coach Terry Pack’s website at http://www.legendsofgold.net.

(Chris McGowan is from Sioux City, Iowa where he was introduced to wrestling in the fifth grade and competed through college. He remains involved in the sport as a parent, volunteer, and member of the Board of Directors of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. E-mail him at christopherjmcgowan@gmail.com.)