Gary Mayabb has spent more than three decades reffing, coaching and perhaps most importantly, being a Greco-Roman advocate. A former top competitor himself, Mayabb understands both the intricacies associated with Greco from a technical aspect, and he is also intimately familiar with the challenges facing the style in this country. That’s what has made the two-time Cadet National Greco-Roman Coach of the Year’s next career move such a newsmaker.
Earlier this week, USA Wrestling formally announced that Mayabb will be joining forces with Matt Lindland, among others, in order to continue to grow Greco at the National level — for everyone. One of Mayabb’s chief priorities will be to begin laying a more substantial foundation for the youth to get involved with Greco earlier while also continuing development up through the top levels, as well. We caught up with Mayabb to get a peek at some of the plans he is hoping to implement before he officially begins his new journey in Colorado Springs starting June 1st.
5PM: How do you plan on getting started given that this a whole new quad with tons of potential talented age group athletes coming up?
Gary Mayabb: It’s a very exciting time right now. It basically comes down to what Coach Lindland wants to see. It’s what we’ve been working on for a month or so now. We‘ll start slow implementing this summer, but by the end of the summer we want a start up a list of targeted athletes who will carry us through to the following season. I start June 1st, but we hope to get the plan going prior to that so we can hit the ground running. It is a little predestined because of those athletes who are going to the World Team Trials. Then we will both be in Akron [Ohio — the Cadet and University Nationals/World Team Trials] looking at the younger guys. Between what we get Junior, Senior, University, and Cadet-wise in Akron, we can start targeting these athletes who are showing great promise.
5PM: Where do you see the deficiencies in attracting kids to Greco-Roman? In other words, how can Greco be marketed better to young wrestlers?
GM: As we start down the road there’s an awful lot of directions an athlete can go in regards to wrestling, which is good. The greatest power we have is the power of choice. There are youth folkstyle tournaments even now still. The push for freestyle is great. We want that, too, with ROTC’s at universities. Many are conducting community outreach and bring in younger kids to teach them wrestling right now. We want to support those who are doing that with Greco. If a younger person wants to specialize [in Greco], we need to be able to provide that.
5PM: What is one aspect of your role you are looking forward to the most?
GM: I’ve been a Greco coach at the state level for 35-ish years. I’m looking forward to being around like-minded people who are full-time Greco. I’ve said that for more than a decade. Now that I’m retiring from NCAA officiating and coaching, I’ll be able to work full-time with people who love Greco-Roman wrestling. There are so many people I’m going to get to meet, and this is going to open many more doors.
5PM: What are the major attributes you are looking for in athletes who might want to become Greco-Roman wrestlers?
Gary Mayabb: The first one is that if we are going to go after an athlete, we are looking for the whole package. A person of character, dedicated. We want grit. We are looking for a warrior, basically. Someone who loves Greco and wants to excel at it. That’s obvious, but we want to provide a path for young people to run down. We have to constantly work with them in all of their growth areas — mind, body, and spirit. Someone who wants to learn and constantly upgrade their performances and compete against themselves and prepare to compete against the world.
GM: Was it a hard decision, taking this role?
GM: It’s always difficult. Change has a way of putting us on our heels, but it was a little earlier than I thought it would be. My original plan was to go through 2020 at my current job, but this is a tremendous opportunity. I’ll miss my relationships I have here in Kansas City and Missouri, and just those people in the city. I’m going to miss being an official, That’s 35 years of work. I’ll still be working with coaches, but in a different way now. Anytime you leave somewhere you’ve been for three decades, no one would take that lightly. It’s nice to be moving toward something, though.
5PM: Are there goals according to any specific timelines you are looking to reach, be them performance or participation numbers?
GM: Absolutely. There are several things we need to do. We want to design a plan that will allow us to attract younger athletes and centrally locate those athletes at the OTC [Olympic Training Center]. We are working currently to do just that. We want to get more kids in Europe this year, for sure. Right now, we are working on two tours that weren’t on the books two weeks ago. We have some immediate needs. We are going to put together two teams., we will start University and Cadet World teams. By the end of summer, we want to be in a spot where we have an accurate list of athletes at the age groups with a 1-5 ranking at each weight. We need to find those kids.
5PM: Where do you want to see the USA Greco-Roman program as a whole by 2020?
Gary Mayabb: We want to be competitive at all levels,. From our schoolboy up through our Senior level athletes. We want to be competitive in the world with opportunities to get on the podium. One of the biggest things we have to do is provide paths to see these athletes and give them that opportunity.
5PM: Anything else?
Gary Mayabb: I appreciate everything you guys have done for Greco, from putting out information and being able to see things on video. There are so many things happening with that. You guys are going to play a major role in how we get the word out. I’m looking forward to working with you guys as well. You’ve changed Greco-Roman already.