Upper Iowa Head Wrestling Coach Heath Grimm has announced that Nate Skaar, who has worked with the Peacock wrestling program the last two years as a volunteer and part-time coach, will be the new assistant wrestling coach. Skaar was the assistant wrestling coach at UIU under Grimm from 2000-04.
“I am excited to bring Nate back on board fulltime after he rejoined the staff two years ago,” said Grimm. “As a full time coach, I believe he will make a strong and positive impact on each student-athlete that comes through our program. The word “chemistry” is often overlooked or misapplied when discussing athletics, but the chemistry that he and I share will serve our student-athletes well. On the mat, we have different strengths that will encourage more growth from our wrestlers.”
The assistant position came open when Ryan Phillips was hired as the head coach at Labette Community College in Parsons, Kan. Labette has claimed the last two NJCAA National Championships. Phillips, who had coached with Grimm for the past five seasons, won Upper Iowa’s first NCAA Division II National Championship at 197 pounds in 2007.
“Coming back to Upper Iowa in a full time role feels great,” said Skaar. “I left for six years, but never really let the Peacocks out of my sight. Having the opportunity to make a positive daily impact on the success of this program is an exciting challenge, and I’m grateful for it. Upper Iowa is a special place, and I am honored to be here.”
Skaar continued, “I’ve known Heath and his family since 1991 when my brother brought him home to watch the World Series. There’s no way to describe our relationship without using the term “brothers”. Our sport has a way of binding people together in a unique way. As teammates and coaches, we have gone through the grind of a season together many times and now we’ve been able to truly enjoy it all while we are raising kids of our own. We’ve fought like brothers, laughed like brothers, and worked together like brothers. Heath has successfully dedicated his efforts to create a family-like atmosphere in the wrestling room. I am both happy and proud to be a part of it.”
During his four seasons as the assistant coach at Upper Iowa, Skaar helped to guide the Peacocks to a NCAA Division III National Runner-Up Finish in 2002.
“Nate is from Albert Lea, Minnesota, which is a community that is rich in wrestling traditions,” stated Grimm. “He is from a wrestling family; his dad, Neal, has been coaching at Albert Lea Area High School for many years and is a large part of its success, while his brother, Alex, and I wrestled at Luther together for a season. When I accepted the Upper Iowa job in 2000, I immediately contacted Nate, who was in California coaching, about becoming by assistant. We immediately got UIU on solid ground and began chasing the ultimate goal, an NCAA National Championship.”
Skaar left UIU after the 2003-04 season to become the Head Wrestling Coach at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He led the program to the NCAA Division III Tournament placing fourth in 2004-05 and second in 2005-06. He was named the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Wrestling Coach of the Year in each of his two years with the Eagles . He was also tabbed the NCAA Division III National Rookie Wrestling Coach of the Year and the USA Amateur Wrestling News Magazine NCAA National Rookie Coach of the Year following the 2004-05 campaign.
Following his stint with UW-La Crosse, Skaar was named the Head Wrestling Coach at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa. He spent five seasons with the Panthers from 2006-11. During his time at Ellsworth, the team placed fifth at the 2007-08 NJCAA National Championships and eighth at the 2008-09 NJCAA National Championships.
Skaar dedicates his work with student-athletes to develop them athletically, academically and socially. In his time as a head coach, he has developed 4 National Champions, 26 All-Americans and 55 National Qualifiers. During Skaar’s two seasons at UW-La Crosse, the team finished in the Top 10 academically in NCAA Division III. Since leaving Ellsworth in 2011, Skaar has served as an Academic/Career Supervisor at Hawkeye Community College.
Grimm continued, “I know that Nate will help ensure that we stay on solid academic ground to support and continue the great honor we earned this past year with the 4th Place ranking on the NWCA NCAA Division II Academic Top 20 with 7 individuals earning Academic All American honors.”
Skaar graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy in 1997.
“My goal is to offer a well-rounded and reliable resource for all the guys that come through our doors,” stated Skaar. “Academics are very important to me, and I hope to strengthen what has already been established as an outstanding aspect of the Peacock wrestling experience. On the mat, it’s all about getting better each and every day. My job is to help the guys do just that.”