Here’s to all those wrestling award winners behind the scenes

Updated: June 5, 2024

Photo: Northern Iowa coach Doug Schwab and his wife Allyson take pride in their four kids, the boys Hendrix (left) and Hayden and twin daughters Jenna (left) and Lennon.

By Mike Finn

As you see in the latest issue of WIN Magazine, there are a lot of famous wrestling names associated with the awards given out annually by WIN Magazine and other sponsors.

There is another award I’d like to present … and that’s to all the support of people behind the scenes who help wrestlers and coaches try to reach their potential each year; perhaps a parent, sibling or a significant other.

And with that in mind, I would think about all these people and call it the Allyson Schwab award.

Allyson is the wife of UNI coach Doug Schwab and the mother of four children: two teenage boys who are successful wrestlers in Hayden and Hendrix and 8-year-old twins Jenna and Lennon.

She is one of countless wives/husbands of a coach or wrestler who plays an impact on their wrestling loved one’s success. Little Rock’s Neil Erisman, the winner of the Dan Gable Coach of the Year, was quick to point out he would not have accomplished what his Trojans did this year without his wife, Kelli, who is also helping raise six children under the age of 11 in their Arkansas home.

But there is something unique about Allyson, who also runs a photography business and simply has become an unpaid PR agent for Doug and his Panther wrestling program, which produced a national champ in Kansas City despite not having a true wrestling room on the UNI campus.

But thanks to social media posts by Allyson (@allysonschwab on X with nearly 10,000 followers), many fans of the Panther program … and even those outside of Northern Iowa … were aware of both the success and trouble the team dealt with this year. She also provided plenty of videos of inspirational talks to his team by Doug, who is otherwise a lot more quiet than his wife.

“That’s just me and the way I was raised,” laughed Allyson, a former college softball player at Virginia Tech, where she met Doug when he was a Hokie assistant coach two decades ago.

“Being around Doug, I’ve recognized the best we are going to get out of everything is being authentic, I like to showcase the other things about him that others do not see. I think that is something different than other teams do.”

The Schwabs could also be a realty TV show, especially when Allyson shares their family’s life, including moments when they boys and girls are wrestling each other in their home.

“People will say, “I love watching them,’ ” Allyson said. “Doug would go to the NCAAs and some coach who we don’t know well, would say, ‘I saw your boys wrestling in the basement.’”

The Schwabs also deal with more serious issues, especially since 2019 when the girls were diagnosed with autism.

“We realize there are other people out there struggling,” she said. “I just want to show all aspects of life.”

But Allyson believes getting her girls in wrestling social circles have helped them grow.

“I would take the girls to the wrestling room at the end of practice and the guys would always interact with them,” she said. “It definitely showed them social skills, which they could practice. It was a huge help as they got comfortable being around people.”

Frankly, we all do better when we have a chance to meet the special people in this sport … and Allyson is one of those as she speaks for so many people.

(Mike Finn, who has covered amateur wrestling for over 35 years, has been WIN editor since 2003 and can be reached at