Mark Sindlinger to be inducted into IHSAA Football Hall of Fame
By John Burbridge
When Charles City multisport standout Mark Sindlinger continued his athletic career at the University of Iowa, he was to be coached by legends.
And we’re not just talking plural. More like platoon.
A three-time state wrestling champion for the Comets before graduating in 1983, Sindlinger eventually wrestled for the iconic Dan Gable, who led the Hawkeyes to 21 Big Ten championships as well as a whopping 15 NCAA championships.
John Wooden, eat your heart out.
“I came in between some of them,” said Sindlinger, who was a member on two NCAA runner-up teams and was an All-American on one of those squads.
“But I was there on a football scholarship.”
That’s where he became acquainted with some more coaching legends.
Sindlinger was a four-year letterwinner for the Iowa football team and was the Hawkeyes’ starting center for three years. Sindlinger played in four bowl games, including the Rose Bowl after the Hawkeyes won the Big Ten title in 1986.
Iowa’s head coach during Sindlinger’s college career was Hayden Fry. A photo of Fry’s coaching staff from the 1986 Big Ten champions hangs in Sindlinger’s Edward Jones office on Main Street.
That staff as a whole is legendary when taking in account of how many of Fry’s assistants went on to become highly successful head coaches at other (if not the same) major programs.
“My wife found a photo of that staff and mailed it out to each of the coaches for them to sign and to send back with an already stamped return envelope,” said Sindlinger, whose offensive lineman coach so happens to be Iowa’s current head coach — Kirk Ferentz.
Though playing football and wrestling is routinely done at the high school level, attempting at the college level — especially Division I — takes uncommon commitment.
“After grinding it out for football for a full season, I didn’t realize how much out of shape I was when I first went out for (Iowa’s) wrestling team,” Sindlinger said.
But Sindlinger says his time in Charles City helped prepare him to excel in two D1 sports.
“I have to credit the great coaches I had in Charles City,” he said. “Jim Miller was my wrestling coach. He was also an assistant at UNI at the time, and he would bring his college wrestlers to our practices, so it was like we were already wrestling in college.”
Sindlinger’s high school football coaches included Wendell Williams, father of Charles City’s current wrestling head coach Dave Williams; Dan Conrad, who took over for Williams during Sindlinger’s junior and senior seasons; and Allan Hastings, who passed away in 2017 after retiring to Arizona.
On Friday during halftime of the Southeast Polk vs. Ankeny Class 5A football championship game scheduled to kickoff at 7 p.m. at the UNI-Dome, Sindlinger will be inducted into the Iowa High School Athletic Association Football Hall of Fame.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” said Sindlinger, who is already in the IHSAA Wrestling Hall of Fame.
As with the other inductees representing the HOF’s 2023 class, the IHSAA has a synopsis of Sindlinger’s athletic accomplishments on its website.
MARK SINDLINGER, Charles City – Dominant two-way force who played defensive tackle, offensive tackle, and fullback was a three-year starter for the Comets. Sindlinger was a first team all-state selection in 1982 while excelling in wrestling and track and field. He won three wrestling state titles at super heavyweight and two junior national championships, and is a member of the IHSAA Wrestling Hall of Fame. Sindlinger went on to be a four-year letterwinner at Iowa, starting three years at center and playing in four bowl games, including the 1986 Rose Bowl while winning a Big Ten title and earning All-American honors in wrestling.
“I just got the word a week and a half ago,” Sindlinger said of his HOF notification. “It’s a great honor.”