Top-ranked Iowa wrestling recruit explains Hawkeye comfort

Hawk Central staff
Spencer Lee (left) and Gavin Teasdale announced their plans Tuesday to wrestle at Iowa.

The Iowa wrestling team scored a massive recruiting victory Wednesday with the commitments of two-time world champion Spencer Lee and highly-touted 2018 prospect Gavin Teasdale.

Lee wrote a letter explaining his decision and thanking his coaches and influences who have helped him reach his current standing.

The letter's full text provided to HawkCentral is below.

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I want to give a shout out to my good friends from the Indiana Lee family for giving me the idea of posting a letter. I have so much I want to say that a simple tweet won’t convey, so Nick and Joe, thanks for the great idea.

I wanted (to) take a moment and thank a few people for helping me get to where I am today. My parents and twin sister for always being there for me and my coaches and teammates for helping me train throughout the years.  Jody and John Strittmatter with Young Guns are the best and have done more for me than anyone could ever imagine.  They care about us not just as wrestlers, but also as people, so while they are my club wrestling coaches, they have also mentored me in life as well.  My coaches and the Athletic Director at Franklin Regional are super people as well. They were so careful and thoughtful in helping me to get back on the mat this year. They cared more about my future than the immediate team success, and that’s how they approach coaching the team and why they are such good coaches. I truly can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Spencer, you can’t do that yet” as I was trying to get back on the mat to compete. I know that I would be neither the person nor the wrestler I am today without help from so many people, and I know that I can’t thank everyone in this note because it would be too long, but I thought I would list a few. 

During the recruiting process, I often told my parents how humbling the experience was at times. I had legends of our sport calling me to recruit me, and I would hang up the phone and say, “Wow, I was just talking to Cael Sanderson, Terry Brands or Coleman Scott” to name just a few.

Now that I’ve made my decision, I thought I would share a little bit about my experience.  I want to start out by thanking my mom and dad for leaving the process and decision entirely to me.  They would answer questions when I asked, but they never pushed me one way or another.  I would say the same thing about all of my coaches, and I remember both Jody and John Strittmatter telling me that this was my decision and that they were staying out of it entirely, and they did. 

On the first day coaches were allowed to call I had 28 schools call me and it was pretty overwhelming. Others would call later that week or later in the process, but I kept track that first day.  I quickly narrowed it to 10 schools, then seven, five, four, three and then two and finally my choice.  My final two schools were the University of Iowa or Penn State University. What a choice -- two historic programs with great success on the mat and both of them very passionate and committed to recruiting me. It was overwhelming to say the least.  Both schools also rank in the top 75 schools academically in the nation.

While I chose Iowa, I want to give a shout out to Penn State. The coaches are nice; I know so many members of the current PSU team, because they came from the Young Guns Wrestling Club. I will be cheering for them in the future against anybody other than my future teammates. I also know the recruits already committed and consider one of them a great friend in Nick Lee. Combine that with the fact that I love the state of Pennsylvania. I’ve grown up competing on the schoolboy, cadet and now junior teams. (That) will make leaving the state for college very difficult and also the fact that coach Sanderson worked so hard in the recruiting process and really could not have done any more than he did, truly made the decision the most difficult in my life and one that I spent countless hours debating with myself.

As difficult as the decision was, I am now proud to be a future Hawkeye.  As I told my family when I finally l made my decision, it just felt right. I felt so comfortable and at home on the Iowa campus and around the team and coaches. I am so very excited to be coached by World and Olympic champion Tom and Terry Brands. Over the recruiting process, I got to know both of them and learned that while they are passionate in the corner fighting for their guys, I found them to be so easy to talk with, loved their sense of humor and how much they cared about each and every member of the team. 

My father works at a university and academics is very important to me, and when I spoke with the team, it was clear to me that academics are important to the Iowa coaching staff as well and that they are committed to us being student-athletes, and that means a lot to me and my family. I also loved the family atmosphere of the team and how they often get together for team activities on the weekends. With each visit, I watched a team that worked hard on the mat, I watched coaches who were positive and encouraging and paid attention to the technical details in a setting that supported me being a student-athlete, and that’s what I was looking for in a place that I want to further both my wrestling and academic career. Finally, being able to wrestle in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in front of a fan base that always leads the nation in attendance is an awesome opportunity. Overall, after a long process, I can’t imagine a program that’s a better fit for me both on the mat and in the classroom than the University of Iowa, and I feel fortunate to be able to join the Hawkeye family.

Something not many know about me is that I love wrestling history and consider myself a student of the sport, both present and past. As humbled as I’ve been in the recruiting process, I am also humbled by the prospect of representing the University of Iowa. So much history has been made in that wrestling room, by the Hawkeye Wrestling Club and in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It’s amazing to look back on the great wrestlers that have contributed to the legacy of Iowa Wrestling.  All I can say is that I can’t wait for my freshman year and the opportunity to join the tradition that is Iowa Wrestling.

To high school athletes just now entering or about to enter the recruiting process I offer the best and worst of my recruiting journey:

The best part of my experience was the people I got to meet and get to know. It was awesome talking with so many coaches and athletes at each school.

The worst part of my recruiting experience was experiencing negative recruiting.  So many wanted to talk about what’s wrong with other programs versus what’s great about their programs and I found out quickly that much of what was said or written about programs or other coaches was simply not true and greatly exaggerated.  So, my one piece of advice to recruits is to visit the schools unofficially or officially and learn firsthand and form your own opinions versus letting others shape your opinions.

Now, I turn my attention to hopefully winning another World Championship this summer, my senior year in high school, working to win a fourth high school state title and helping my team get back to team states.

To the Iowa fans, I look forward to earning the right to wrestle in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and I look forward to helping the Hawkeyes in any way I can win future Big Ten and National team titles. 

I’ll see you soon! Go Hawkeyes!

Spencer Lee, Class of 2017 and future University of Iowa Hawkeye