Iowa Hawkeyes

For Terry Brands, family comes before wrestling

HS journalism: This season, he'll get to mix the two

Iowa associate head wrestling coach Terry Brands gives directions to Brandon Sorensen during a match against Iowa State’s Jarrett Degen at Hilton Coliseum in Ames in February. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa associate head wrestling coach Terry Brands gives directions to Brandon Sorensen during a match against Iowa State’s Jarrett Degen at Hilton Coliseum in Ames in February. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Tucked into a corner of Carver-Hawkeye Arena lays a room plastered with black and gold from floor to ceiling.

As you walk in, the hot air hits your face as you stumble upon mats lying on the floor. Machines line the walls along with posters of Big Ten champions and All-Americans.

If you look close enough at the posters you will find Terry Brands, the associate head coach for the University of Iowa wrestling team.

Brands began wrestling in fifth grade. Initially, he and his twin brother, Tom Brands, did not set out to wrestle. They were told they were too short to play basketball and they should wrestle instead.

Terry and Tom would eventually win state, Big Ten and NCAA titles and now coach together at Iowa.

Growing up, Terry did not have the best home life.

“(It was) rather dysfunctional the way I grew up and (I) tried to instill other things, learning how you grew up with an alcoholic father and how to do it the right way — if there is a right way and bring (me) at least some kind of stability,” he said.

Brands found his outlet through wrestling. He described it as “an awesome way to help and persevere through a lot of obstacles and a lot of trials.”

Now married, he and Michelle have two children, Nelson and Sydney. Brands tries to keep his family as close knit as they can.

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“The only negative (thing) that wrestling has ever had on me, as a family man, whether I was competing or as a coach is that it splits (up the family),” he said. “It’s so busy (and) it’s everyday of ... the year.”

Nelson, a recent Iowa City West graduate, will join his father and uncle this season as part of the Hawkeye team.

“I am really excited about (Nelson joining the team),” Terry said. “It’s going to be something where I see his progress every day as opposed to not being in the practice room. I’ve seen him practice at club practices and it’s going to be awesome to be around him every day.”

Terry also is very close with Sydney, a gymnast. He described their relationship as “different lingo.”

During Nelson’s wrestling career, Terry drew a line between parenting and coaching. He didn’t coach Nelson when he was younger.

“I only interacted with him as a coach when he came to me and wanted to talk to me about his video, a technique or a match that he had,” Terry said.

Now Terry wants to best for Nelson.

“He’s my blood, so I know that he has some goals and I want to help him (achieve them),” he said.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.