skip navigation

Gerry Abas Welcomes You to San Diego!

By Bill X. Barron, 07/18/19, 11:15AM MDT


California's 1st 4X NCAA All-American

Gerry Abas, Coach CA

“Winning Comes in Many Flavors”

By Bill X. Barron, RMN Events Writer

As Gerry Abas looks over the bay onto the D-Day on the Midway, it is from the perspective of one of California Wrestling’s first families. “The Midway is a nontraditional wrestling environment. Wrestling needs venues like this to attract a new audience and participants.”

“RMN Events knows just how to put on this type of showcase. RMN is first-rate – what we expect from a wrestling event but what is not always delivered. Everyone’s coming! That’s how you know it’s a success.”

California’s first 4-time NCAA All-American while competing for Fresno State from 1992-1995, Gerry was followed in 1998-2002 by the state’s second NCAA 4-timer, his brother Stephen. A 2004 Olympic silver medalist, in 2005 Stephen was named one of the top 15 best college wrestlers in history. Continuing the family heritage, Gerry’s son Jaden – a 7-time RMN Freak Show champion – will build upon two California state championships through a scholarship to compete at Stanford.

As a 3-time NCAA runner-up, Gerry has learned not to overvalue winning. “Winning comes in many flavors.” It’s more important to take risks. “Are they in for the journey – or just to master a few moves?” Winning is not the destination: “It’s how you play the game. Getting your hand raised is over-rated. You can stall your butt off and still win.”

Gerry relates what he learned from his years as a break dancer. “From break dancing, I learned that a seeming mistake can transition into a new move. I always told my son to give your opponent and the crowd a piece of yourself. Inspire them with technique. Show your art, your skill, your passion.”

For Gerry, wrestling lessons are life lessons: “What you learn in practice and apply in competition, you transfer into life.” To Gerry, life (and wrestling) is all about the struggle. “Embrace the grind. Deal with pain. Discover your heart and soul. Muscles only get bigger when you rip and tear them. Come out on the other side. Use difficulty as your catalyst to growth.”

In Gerry’s world, there is irony. “For many in life, when you fall to your knees, it’s a sign of defeat. But in wrestling, the knees are our base. Yet it’s not a safe place. In life and wrestling, someone is always trying to grind you down. You have to put in the work; don’t sit around waiting for others to feel sorry for you. Trust the work you put into practice. Wrestling is a metaphor for the human spirit.”

A realist, Gerry recognizes that the world is changing; thus, we must adjust our coaching to meet kids where they are today. “Today’s kids walk around with a video in their hands. Kids today have not learned to pay attention. In the practice room, I see two types of modern day kids: those who sit in front of a computer or tv and need activity, and those who are bouncing off the walls and need structure as well as discipline. Success begins with focus. Wrestling makes the art of struggle come alive.”

Gerry encourages kids to express themselves, to be colorful. He advises that we need to “adjust what you call being humble. If you want me to love you more, be yourself. Being confident in yourself means to express who are. Get out of the box. Take risks!”

In his coaching, Gerry reminds his athletes to be unpredictable. “How many videos must your opponent watch before he has you figured out? I teach my son to be unreadable. Build an arsenal of moves so your ‘go to’ move is hard to distinguish. Drill moves so that the other guy has no defense for what we do.”

Too much emphasis is placed on toughness. “Parents and coaches constantly remind kids to not be afraid. But such a message can become self-fulfilling. Instead be bold – when you develop technical expertise, your self-expression naturally becomes adamant, so you can succeed when the moment is right. Be passionate in your technique and you will experience your gut-check moment.”

Although he has coached and competed at the collegiate level, Gerry most enjoys coaching youth. “It’s fun to watch them grow so quickly. They drill a move 50 times, then they hit it live without hesitation. Suddenly, a light bulb goes off. The work is worth it!”

Through youth coaching, Gerry believes he is investing in tomorrow’s leaders. “I remind kids that they need to have vision. The journey will be tough; stay with it. Forward thinking: what you do today in practice, you will perform tomorrow in a match. Always have your calendar out so you can plan the next step. Wrestling teaches you to be ready for what life brings.”

A wrestling life – or a life wrestling – means “an art that reveals a struggle.” He believes in coaching each kid as an individual, helping them find the techniques which mesh with who they are as a person. “Too many adults are quick to say what’s wrong. All that does is make the kid begin to question himself. The world would be a better place if every kid were to wrestle for just a year. This sport is a noble catalyst, one that teaches youth how to become leaders and champions."

Stephen, Gerry, & Jaden Abas

Gerry winning 1993 NCAA semifinal

Jaden Abas (on single leg)

Jaden Abas (ducking under)