Ty Seaman has had his share of wrestling honors over the years.
But getting to lead the Grand March at this year's state tournament? That takes the cake.
"It is for me the biggest honor that I've ever received. That's always a very special part of the state wrestling tournament. It's kind of a higlight for everybody," Storm Lake's 15th-year wrestling coach said. "Being involved in that again - I got to be in it as a wrestler (Seaman placed fourth at 138 pounds for state champion Emmetsburg in 1982) - and to get to be in it again as a participant and not just a spectator is kind of a dream for all of us."
State officials earlier this season tapped the Seaman family - Ty, his father, Ron, and his brother, Tim - as the escorts to lead the march around the mats before the championship bouts at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines Feb. 16.
Ron and his wife, the late Diane Seaman, owned and published The Predicament, a highly reputable Iowa wrestling publication, for 22 years.
Ron won an NWCA National Wrestling Writer of the Year award, and Tim is well known in the wrestling community as the sports director of KCAU-TV in Sioux City. Another brother, Todd Seaman, is the youth director for the city of West Des Moines.
"The escorts for the Grand March have represented various people connected with the sport: coaches, media, unbeaten champions, Olympians from Iowa, state tournament personnel. With the move into Wells Fargo, Alan Beste, who administers wrestling for us, wanted to establish a pattern for picking the escorts," explained IHSAA information director Bud Legg. "Two years ago, the five unbeaten state champions. Last year, the two coaches who have the highest winning percentage and 300 or more wins (Bob Darrah and Bob Siddens).
"This year, a family."
Ty Seaman said the announcement caught him off guard.
"Typically the leaders of that are a little bit more important than the Seaman family. We wondered if they were just desperate or what was going on," cracked Seaman, whose son, Ben, a junior, wrestles for the Tornadoes at 152.
The Seamans are a significant part of the wrestling landscape in Iowa, Legg said: "Ron, a journalist who promoted the sport at the Emmetsburg paper and took over The Predicament, which he and his wife made the voice of high school wrestling ... Ty, who wrestled and coaches; and Tim, who as a TV journalist has covered the sport as well as doing TV commentary at state meets and covering northwest Iowa wrestlers.
"By choosing a family to be the escorts, we are emphasizing the family support individuals need to excel and that is deeply rooted in family values in Iowa."
Over the years, Ty Seaman has served on the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association as Northwest District chairman, secretary and treasurer, president and vice president.
He coached at West Lyon for seven years before arriving in Storm Lake, and he's had 49 state qualifiers and 18 state placers. He guided West Lyon to a pair of second-place finishes in the state duals, and another silver medal at "The Barn" in 1993. His 1998 Tornado squad was a state dual meet qualifier.
"I was lucky enough when I was (at West Lyon) that we had a string of real good athletes come through," said Seaman, a former BV wrestler who lives in Storm Lake with his wife, Joanie, and their two other children, Nic and Nora. "I also coached football and they went from not having winning seasons in football to going well into the playoffs, and we went from not having a whole lot of tradition in wrestling to doing real well for several years there."
Seaman fell in love with the sport at a young age in a neighborhood basement.
The Kerber basement, as it was known. The home of E'Hawks four-time state champ Jeff Kerber, who was a senior when Seaman was a freshman. ("I was more of a workout dummy, or a throwing dummy, than a friend," joked Seaman.)
"One Sunday afternoon - they had a little wrestling room in their basement. I don't know how it happened but several dads and their sons were over and started just kind of wrestling around," Seaman said. "They were neighbors to us growing up, and their wrestling room grew from one little 10x10 mat into what ended up being a double garage with mats in it.
"The whole double garage was turned into a wrestling room, and that was out my backdoor so I kind of grew up with that situation and spent a lot of time in the Kerber wrestling room."
Wrestling, says Seaman, is unique from other sports in that it's a community of people. You spend countless hours with them, get to know them on a different level. You go through the same ups and downs, endure similar grueling workouts and marathon Saturday tournaments. Strive for the same goal.
"We had a lot of fun as a family and as me and my high school buddies. The many times we loaded up somebody's station wagon and drove for two hours and went to a wrestling tournament - whether it was in the middle of winter or during the summer," said Seaman. "Just kind of the friendships and the camaraderie that we built among not just me and my family but other kids and their families.
"I think that's kind of unique to wrestling."
Seaman said no one memory stands out from his tenure at Storm Lake.
"There's lots of memories, from the teams that have done real well to the kid that maybe hadn't won very many matches wins a match, to this year just getting our numbers back and getting kids involved," he said. "Just seeing the kids want to be successful after they're done probably is as memorable as anything that's gone on while they've been in high school," he said.
On the former note, the team has 36 wrestlers out this season, a large number of whom are minorities. Seaman has embraced the school's diversity.
"We have a real good mix of kids right now at the high school. I think right now we're over the hump in the wrestling program. We've been building the last two or three years, and right now we have gotten those minority kids involved," Seaman said. "That's what our school looks like, and for any of our programs to survive at the high school level, we need all the students to participate.
"That's one of the things that for me this year is most satisfying: I think we've gotten to that point, and I really don't see it changing."
Ultimately, Saturday, Feb. 16 will go down as another memory - perhaps the best yet - in the sport that has helped shape the lives of Ty Seaman and his family.
"My mom was a big part of The Predicament. She was a die-hard wrestling fan, too," he said. "We're kind of looking at it (like) it's my dad and my brother and I out there, but she's also really represented out there."