In Tom Brands’ head coaching office, a photo is tacked behind the desk. In it, he is staring at a hawk perched on his arm, and the hawk is staring right back.
The toughness shown in that photo combined with leadership, compassion, and accountability are all needed to lead men to the top of NCAA wrestling are traits that Brands embodies.
The Iowa wrestling program has been built on accountability, and Brands has been at the core of that for 33 years. Whether that mindset continues from the bottom up, from 125-pounder Spencer Lee to last year’s heavyweight Sam Stoll, or from something that runs deep from decades earlier with an icon at the helm, there’s one thing that remains true: competing in a black singlet that features a gold IOWA on the left thigh turns boys into men.
“I don’t believe in senior leadership either, just by the way,” Brands said.
“I believe in leadership — period.”