Kevin Black was a busy guy while wrestling for Wisconsin. He competed during the 1999-03 seasons, earned All-American status in 2002 with a fourth place finish at the NCAA championships at 133 lbs., participated in Athletes in Action and also stuck around after graduation to help out on head coach Barry Daviss staff.
Since he left Wisconsin, Black has not slowed down. He moved back to his hometown of River Falls, Wis., and created the Victory School of Wrestling . Before starting up Victory, Black worked with the U.S. Womens Wrestling Team and will travel with the team to Denmark this summer for the 2009 World Championships.
Black and his wife Liz (Reusser), a former UW track and cross country athlete, also had their first child last September. Be sure to read on to see how Kevin has stayed busy since leaving the UW.
What have you been up to since graduation
I graduated in 2003 but my senior year I got hurt, so I didnt finish out that season, but during the summer of 2003 I got married to my wife Liz. When I graduated, we hung out in Madison, she went to pharmacy school and I helped Barry out for two years and I still did a little competing. I tried to do the senior level thing and make the U.S. National Team. I never made the team, but had the chance to travel overseas for a couple of events and wrestled a couple of domestic competitions. In 2005, I just decided that I didnt have what it took to compete at that level any longer. It was too big of a commitment and we wanted to start a family.
Liz graduated from pharmacy school and she got a job in River Falls, Wis., so we moved up here to River Falls and I decided to start the Victory School of Wrestling. When I was at Wisconsin, Troy Steiner was a coach for us and he started a wrestling school in Madison. I got to see him start from the grassroots and build a business and a program. I took a lot of the things that I saw he did well and applied them to this area. Its a little bit different type of kid that comes to the school, its a different economy up here, but we still were able to make it work and in about three years, its really grown into a big production here in the Northwest part of the state. We get kids from about a 100 mile radius; we draw from the north and south and even into the Twin Cities.
I also had a unique opportunity to work with Terry Steiner with the U.S. Womens Wrestling Team after graduation. Terry was a coach in Madison when I was there as well, and he actually left the UW to take a position with U.S.A. Wrestling coaching women. I did some coaching at the state level with some female wrestlers and just from there, I progressed into coaching at the senior level. This summer I will be one of the World Team coaches. I was a World Team coach in 2007 and we took fourth as a team and had three medalists in Azerbaijan. This year were in Denmark so Ill travel over there in September.
What events do you have coming up this summer at the Victory School of Wrestling
Summer just started so were picking up the pace a little bit for the wrestlers that are in summer training. During the school year, the kids have other things going on and theyre pretty busy with school commitments, but during the summer, we can pick up the intensity a little bit. The high school guys train three times a week down here, some kids come in for one-on-one attention or more strength and conditioning. Our big goal is Junior Nationals at the end of July in Fargo, N.D. Its the biggest wrestling tournament in the world and were just sort of on the first week of our cycle to have them ready for that event. Were putting them through a program where they peak in July.
What was your best memory while at Wisconsin either on or off the mat
My best memory off the mat was being involved with some other outside activities. I was involved in Athletes in Action and I met my wife through there and did a lot of great things with AIA.
With wrestling, I have two very memorable moments. The first was from my freshman year, at the Big Ten championships. I got beat two weeks before that in a dual meet by a wrestler from Michigan. I actually got beat 21-5 and Barry and I went back to the drawing board and he told me that I was going to beat him at Big Tens two weeks later. He put together a game plan and said if you trust me, youre going to beat this guy. I trusted him and I ended up beating him to qualify for nationals as a true freshman and he was a fifth-year senior and ranked fifth in the country. It was a pretty big moment for my career, but also just big for the guys on the team. I bought into what Barry had to say and I came out with great success. I think Barry even still uses that story with the guys today.
My other favorite memory came from my senior year when I got hurt. I thought that I was set up to win a national title, and all those sorts of things, and I was ranked second in the country but got hurt three weeks before Big Tens and was out for the season. My best memory from that situation though was the way that Barry handled me as a man. I went to Wisconsin to win a national title but I also went because I thought Barry was a guy that could help me do that and I thought that he had a lot of good character traits aside from just being a coach, that could help me grow as a man. He helped me realize that there is more to life than wrestling. It was a good moment for me. Barry truly and genuinely cares about his wrestlers and I think that I have testimony to that.
Do you still follow the Badger wrestling team at all
I do. I still stay in contact with Barry and follow the teams success. I didnt get a chance to make it to any duals in Madison last year but I went to the National Duals. I did follow them online and watch the live Web casts.
What advice would you give current UW student-athletes
When I was there, I was also interested in my education. I was a good student in high school but I had to take it to another level in college to succeed. Now, I value my education more than my wrestling experience in hindsight. I went to class, I studied, I did all of the things I was supposed to and I think thats one of the reasons I got so much out of my education. Some of the guys that didnt apply themselves in the education maybe dont have that same appreciation or memory of how good of an institution the University of Wisconsin is. If I had any advice for those guys, it would be to go to class, to really take it serious because it can change your life.