Mike Zadick: From mountains to wrestling coach


Iowa State’s new assistant wrestling coaches are introduced to the media Tuesday, April 4. 

Curran Mclaughlin

Iowa State wrestling coach Kevin Dresser introduced his new coaching staff Wednesday in the Pete Taylor Media Room at Hilton Coliseum.

But it was obvious that of the three new hires, the man sitting next to him was unlike Derek St. John and Brent Metcalf.

Mike Zadick sports a massive beard that hangs past the collar of his new Cyclones polo shirt.

“Is that really an elephant in the room?” Zadick said after being asked about his facial hair.

Zadick has never really put much thought in the beard, which hides his entire neck from sight. He simply stopped shaving after his cousin’s wedding in September 2012 and hasn’t felt the need to shave since.

“Everyone else has kind of made it to be a big deal,” Zadick said, recalling a fan making a Twitter account for his beard.

Zadick’s beard isn’t why he is the new assistant coach at Iowa State after serving as assistant coach under Dresser at Virginia Tech since 2015.

“I got a lot of confidence and a lot of faith in Mike Zadick,” Dresser said. “He’s the guy who’s going to get us all together. Mike does a great job of implementing his staff.”

When Zadick joined Dresser’s staff in 2015 he took over the role of leading practices.

He’ll take a similar role this upcoming season for Iowa State but will also share time leading practices with St. John and Metcalf.

Being able to lead practices was a big factor in Zadick coming to Virginia Tech, his first coaching job since 2012.

At the time, Zadick was living in a cabin in the mountains of Montana.

Zadick had moved back to Montana in 2012 after finishing his career as a competitor and his stint as an assistant coach for Iowa.

Zadick left Iowa because of a dispute in philosophies, causing a fallout between him and Iowa coach Tom Brands.

“I’ve been training for the Olympics and training wrestling my whole life, and then I’m training as a coach too,” Zadick said. “Then all of a sudden, both of them, done.”

Zadick took a step back from collegiate wrestling for a few years.

“When I went back [to Montana], I just kind of deflated and took in the change of life,” Zadick said. 

Not knowing what else to do, Zadick hunted, branded cattle, built items out of wood and spent time with his family.

Within his first year back in Montana, Zadick was invited by Choteau High School wrestling coach Steve French to help out at practices.

Zadick started to come to practices more frequently each season despite living 40 miles away from the school.

Zadick was there when Chateau High School won its first state championship in 25 years in 2015, giving him the urge to start coaching again.

Not too long after, Dresser reached out to Zadick through Facebook.

It took persistence and patience on Dresser’s part, but after seeing the program that he was building at Virginia Tech, Zadick agreed to join his staff.

“He caught me at a really good moment. I was hungry at the time,” Zadick said. “I want to get back to the big leagues if I’m going to do this.”

Zadick’s decision to leave Virginia Tech wasn’t easy.

Zadick likes to build deep relationships with his wrestlers. He didn’t want to leave his wrestlers behind.

But Zadick knew that following Dresser to Iowa State was a great opportunity, offering the same benefits, such as being able to run practices.

Zadick, a former Hawkeye wrestler, also knows how passionate and loyal fans are in Iowa, a big factor when Zadick made his decision.

“The difference is here it’s a whole other world of wrestling,” Zadick said. “Wrestling is very important in the state of Iowa.”