TC260: Rob Koll, Cornell Wrestling

Wow! This is a must listen for any coach in any sport. Coach Rob Koll of Cornell Wrestling brings a lot of experience and success to the table. Not only does he know his way around the mat, but he’s got the whole program thing figured out. He’s got the people of Ithaca, New York excited about Big Red Wrestling — and between the community and Cornell alumni, the program is completely self-funded and plays in what may be the nicest wrestling-specific facility in the country. 

In this episode, Coach Koll talks about his dad (successful wrestler, coach, and WWII hero), his time as a student and wrestler at the University of North Carolina, his typical topics at conventions (fundraising, fan-raising, and recruiting), raising $1.2 million annually for the wrestling program, fundraising (going from “events-driven” to “alumni-centric”), wasteful spending in collegiate athletics, the distribution of duties among the coaches, and building a “family” through common shared sacrifice.

Notable quotes:

  • “Nothing’s more effective than the pain of defeat.”
  • “I was working hard, not smart.”
  • “Teaching moves is about 5% of the job.”
  • “I thought I needed to whip the kids to be a good coach.”
  • “Coaches tend to focus on what they like, not what they need to do.”
  • “Make decisions like it’s the last job you’ll ever have.”
  • “Don’t work hard to get a great job. Work hard to make your job great.”
  • “Friendships that are forged in wrestling are tempered in sweat.”
  • “Wasteful spending in college athletics is sinful.”
  • “I get people excited about helping Cornell Wrestling.”
  • “Make the team a family.”
  • Nothing compares to getting pinned on a mat in front of thousands.”
  • “Going out on the mat and losing is a great warm-up for life.”
  • “We recruit motivated kids.”

Follow Cornell Wrestling on Twitter.

photo credit: Cornell Athletics
Intro Music: Matt’s Blues, Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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