Tonya Verbeek, a 3-time Olympic medalist, joins Iowa women’s wrestling coaching staff

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

Clarissa Chun added another celebrated coach to the Iowa women’s wrestling staff on Friday, announcing the hire of Tonya Verbeek, a three-time Olympic medalist from Canada, as an assistant coach. 

“I am super excited to bring Tonya to our program,” Chun said in a release. “She brings diversity and fresh ideas, coming from the Canadian system. She is someone who has been successful as an athlete and has worked with both the men’s and women’s national teams as a coach. I know she isn’t afraid of digging deep and working hard. I love her spirit and her passion for the sport of wrestling.  

“She knows what Iowa is about, she has been here, and has brought her teams to train here in the past. She knows the support, the energy, and the atmosphere and is excited to be a Hawkeye.” 

Verbeek, 44, joins the Hawkeye staff, which includes head coach Chun and associate head coach Gary Mayabb, as a decorated athlete and experienced coach. In addition to three Olympic medals — silver in Athens in 2004, bronze in Beijing in 2008, silver in London in 2012 — she is also a three-time Senior world medalist, winning bronze in both 2005 and 2009 and silver in 2011. 

After her competitive career, the Ontario native spent time coaching the Canadian National Team. She served as the head men's and women's national team coach from 2019-21, the international coach from 2017-19, and a developmental coach from 2013-17. She was awarded the Petro Canada Coaching Excellence Award in 2019. 

Verbeek also has experience coaching collegiate wrestlers, serving as an assistant coach at Brock University from 2006-13. She holds degrees in recreation and leisure studies and education from Brock University. She earned her masters of education from Brock University in 2006. 

Iowa women's wrestling head coach Clarissa Chun, left, and associate head coach Gary Mayabb watch during a girls wrestling technique camp, Wednesday, July 6, 2022, at the GreenState Family Fieldhouse in Coralville, Iowa.

"I am full of gratitude and excitement to join the Hawkeye program,” Verbeek said in a statement. “To be a part of an institution (that supports) a winning culture, and a community that loves wrestling is an opportunity I will embrace. 

“Thank you to Clarissa, who carried her vision forward to bring together a diverse coaching staff, and in such a short time, a dynamic group of athletes with more to come. I am grateful to my home club in Canada, the Brock Wrestling Club, for encouraging me to follow this next journey in my coaching career and their endless support.

“The student-athlete experience is an epic time for these young Hawkeyes. I look forward to helping enhance their experience at Iowa, and to make an impact with athletes who aspire to be champions in our sport.” 

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.