There’s No ‘Price Tag on Excellence’

Pete Dickinson embraced the importance of generosity early in his college career.

The wrestler from Alaska was recruited to MSUM with one of the few athletic scholarships in the sport. After a successful first year on the team, Dickinson’s coach asked him if he wanted to give back to the program.

“To do this, I gave up my scholarship so the coaches could use it to recruit the next kid,” says Dickinson, who graduated in 2000. “That’s how we build a team.”

Dickinson finished his career as a two-time NCAA All-American. But he never forgot the sacrifices it took to make that success happen.

“(Coach) John Sterner was good at motivating us and keeping kids out and recruiting,” he says. “He taught us that you couldn’t put a price tag on excellence. Together – teammates, coach, staff – we created a really good program.”

Dickinson and his wife, Tanya, also an MSUM graduate and a board member of the MSUM Foundation, continue to do what they can to build the Dragon wrestling program. They have supported the sport through the John Sterner Wrestling Endowment and started their own named wrestling scholarship.

They contributed to the campaign for the alumni center and will also support MSUM with an estate gift.

Dickinson is grateful he moved to Minnesota to wrestle and earn his degree. At MSUM, he found the support he needed to succeed in college – both on the wrestling mat and in the classroom.

In honor of that encouragement, Dickinson’s first gift to MSUM came shortly after graduation when he established an endowed scholarship for wrestling. He had received a pick-up truck as a high school graduation gift. He sold the vehicle and put the money in the bank until he finished college.

“It’s just right for us to give back,” Dickinson says. “Without wrestling, I wouldn’t have anything.”

Dickinson returned to Alaska, expecting to teach physical education and coach wrestling. Instead, he found work in the oil fields. Eventually, he and Tanya started their own company that specializes in project management and labor in the oil industry. They sold the business in 2015; Pete has served as president of the company since then.

He and Tanya also built a wrestling gym in Soldotna. The All-American Training Center (AATC) is home to the Soldotna Whalers Wrestling Club, which he coaches, and provides access to competition wrestling mats. It also offers 24-hour fitness memberships to the public.

It’s here that they pour their heart and soul.

Dickinson continues to be involved in wrestling. He’s the head coach of the Soldotna Whalers Wrestling Club, and he helps out with the high school and middle school programs in Soldotna.

“Wrestling is the best sport invented,” Dickinson says. “It’s for every kid no matter how big, small, tall or short they are. It teaches people a lot about themselves. It’s the best sport in the world.”

It’s why he believes in supporting and continuing to build the Dragon program.

“We need to make a difference. MSUM is a great place to be successful. It has everything,” he says. “With more support, we can make huge strides in making this program excel.”

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