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Waldorf coach Dickinson to serve country in Africa, Tomke named interim coach

FOREST CITY, Iowa -- Warrior men's wrestling coach Ryan Dickinson is answering the call of duty from his country, and Waldorf assistant professor Maurie Tomke is lending his long-time friend a hand.

Dickinson, who recently completed his first season as head coach for the Warriors, found out he is being deployed to the Norn of Africa with the Iowa National Guard and leaves today for training for his mission which will last until late spring or early summer of 2021.

While Dickinson serves his country, Tomke, the chair of the Sports Management department at Waldorf, has agreed to step in as interim head coach in Dickinson's absence.

"I knew it would happen eventually," said Dickinson, who has been in the guard for 12 years. "I deferred a deployment during my college athletic career (at Northern State).

"With everything just getting started it's hard to step away, it's never going to be easy, but I've been mentally prepared to step away and do my duty and protect my country," Waldorf's coach added.

Fortunately for Dickinson and the Warriors, Tomke was ready to help out, too

The two crossed paths as assistant coaches together during the 2008-09 season at East High School in Sioux City, Iowa, starting a friendship that has lasted more than a decade. Tomke even served on the search committee that interview Dickinson for the Warrior head coaching position back in 2019.

"We were close enough that when the time came he called and said he was being shipped out and he asked 'how can you help?'" Tomke said.

Waldorf Director of Athletics Chad Gassman also reached out to Tomke with the same question, and Tomke accepted the challenge to serve as interim head coach while Dickinson served his country.

Tomke said he will cut back his teaching load and cut back on the number of students he advises to help make time for his additional duties as head men's wrestling coach.

While admitting it will be a lot to juggle, he's use to a heavy work-load as Tomke put in 80 to 90 hour a week at times during his six seasons as an assistant wrestling coach at Ellsworth Community College, from 2010 to 2016.

Prior to his time at Ellsworth, Tomke started his collegiate coaching career as an assistant at Bridgewater State in Massachusetts after spending time as a coach at Bishop Heelan High School, and East High School and East Middle School, in Sioux City.

"It's always been a dream of mine being a head coach," Tomke said, adding "it'll only be for a year and why not help out."

Something Dickinson admits his friend has been doing all along.

"He gives me little tips and pointers, or tells me about recruits he's found or knows about," Waldorf's head coach said.

"Having someone step in who I've known for the past decade, it helps a bunch, it alleviates some of the stress I have."

Dickinson adds that he will stay in contact with Tomke and the Warrior wrestling program while deployed, when time permits while he serves his country.

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