COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It was a historic event, and very much like a homecoming, when graduating high school senior Tommy Dantzler had a formal signing ceremony to become a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete in Greco-Roman wrestling.
Tommy is the son of T.C. Dantzler, a 2008 Olympian in Greco-Roman and long-time U.S. Olympic Training Resident athlete. T.C. Dantzler competed in five World Championships for the USA.
In the history of the USOTC Greco-Roman program, which was created in 1993, this is believed to be the first father and son to be part of this elite program which trains daily at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
“I have set the highest goals for myself, being an Olympic champion. Before that, I am looking to win Junior Worlds. It was my choice. I had football options, too. I was talking to a lot of colleges about football. It feels more natural wrestling Greco,” said Tommy Dantzler.
Tommy and T.C. joined National Greco-Roman Coach Matt Lindland along with nationally respected volunteer coach Herb House to sign the paperwork to become a resident athlete. The short ceremony was held in the foyer just outside the Bill Farrell Wrestling Center at the USOTC, where Tommy will be training moving forward.
“He will be going to UCCS, while he is training for the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games,” said Lindland at the ceremony. “We are very happy to have him in the program,” said Lindland.
What makes it a homecoming is that Tommy, who is graduating from Homewood-Flossmor High School in Illinois this year, grew up and lived in Colorado Springs, Colo., only moving out of the city this year.
Tommy spent his first three years of high school at Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs. Tommy moved with his dad T.C. to Illinois this year, when T.C. returned home to assist his father (Tommy’s grandfather) with health issues.
“I think moving to Illinois was a good move, just to see what it was like outside of Colorado. Moving back, this brings me back to a more comfortable place,” said Tommy Dantzler.
Tommy Dantzler grew up around wrestling, and also grew up with his father active as an athlete and coach. Being at the U.S. Olympic Training Center was part of his life as a kid, and will be a part of his life now as an adult.
“Now he is back. He wants to be back in town. This is his hometown, where he lives. He grew up coming into this wrestling room. When T.C. and I would be scrapping, there would be Tommy over on the edge of the mat. I have known him a long time and I really got to know him since I have been National Coach. I have gotten to work with him a lot. We are looking for big things from Thomas, making our Senior National Team and helping win World and Olympic medals for the United States,” said Lindland.
The USA Wrestling Greco-Roman resident program was created in 1993, and T.C. Dantzler was a resident for many years during his long Greco-Roman career. He settled in Colorado Springs after his career, where he founded a business, raised his family and developed a local wrestling club.
“I think it is the best decision he could make, because he made it. Since he made the decision, I believe it is the right decision. Being here at the Olympic Training Center, you can’t beat that. You have great coaches, including coaches who have coached me. I have friends of mine who are looking out for his best interest,” said T.C. Dantzler.
Tommy Dantzler recently placed sixth in the UWW Junior National Championships in Greco-Roman held in Las Vegas, the national tournament for athletes 17-20 years old.
“For Thomas, he sees the same vision that I see, getting guys to commit to Greco-Roman earlier, while they are going to college. It is a different skill set. It is different pressure, it’s different body mechanics. Thomas has the athletic ability and the character. He can excel in a program like this,” said Lindland.
T.C. Dantzler is not only a proud parent, but also understands the journey that Tommy will take training and competing at the Olympic Training Center.
“To be back here, where I came to train in 1995 for just two weeks, and I have been ever since, it is great to have my son commit to the program and try to win a gold medal for the best country in the world,” said T.C. Dantzler. “This is the best training facility in the world to train in Greco-Roman wrestling.”