Mike Jacotout ’81 was one of the stars of the ’78–’79 wrestling squad, the first Lions team to win an NCAA championship. He talked with us recently about the coach who made it happen: Dave Icenhower MA ’84, who passed away in October at age 66.
“TSC’s wrestling team was ranked 16th the season before. But with Mike Rossetti and the other guys coming back, and Britt Mock and me transferring in, we knew we had the nucleus of a national championship team. We believed we were the best; Ice ensured our practices made us the best. They were exhausting. We wrestled eight-minute matches back then, but in practice Ice made us go for 11 minutes—and sent fresh wrestlers in every few minutes. He was preparing us for the worst so that if the time came he could say, ‘You’re ready for this.’
“Ice believed in continued, balanced improvement. ‘Good is not a permanent place,’ he’d tell us. ‘If you’re good, somebody’s striving to beat you.’ So we constantly pushed ourselves to be better.
“He was a participative leader, and ahead of his time in that respect. He never shouted or got in your face. He asked our opinions and listened. I never had a coach do that before. He was making us better wrestlers but also better men. He was building character and developing leaders. I know he thought he stopped coaching me after my final match, but nothing could be further from the truth. I still refer to the lessons he taught through his words and actions.
“There’s a saying: Some people pave the roads; others ride on them. Dave Icenhower was a road paver for TCNJ’s athletic success. After our team won the college’s first NCAA championship, the floodgates opened and winning NCAA titles became the standard. That’s because Ice made everyone believe it was possible.”
“Ice believed in continued, balanced improvement. ‘Good is not a permanent place, he’d tell us.”