Dave Gudroe remembers his family's introduction to wrestling in the late 1960s, when older brother Steve came home from school and told his parents he was going to wrestle for Dexter High School.
They weren't amused.
"You're not going to do that crap," related Dave of the gist of the conversation between his brother and parents.
Floyd and Peggy Gudroe thought Steve meant wrestling in the World Wide Wrestling Federation sense of the sport that dominated Saturday's late-night airwaves of the era.
They soon found out that high school wrestling was quite different from the professional brand, and by the time Steve reached high school and for the eight ensuing years that spanned the careers of Steve, Randy, and Dave Gudroe, the parents never missed a match.
Dave Gudroe, like Steve, went on to win three individual state championships, and more recently has guided the Tigers to considerable success - including a run of four straight state crowns - during a coaching career at Dexter that has spanned more than a decade.
But Gudroe, who is the maintenance supervisor for SAD 46 that includes Dexter, has decided not to return to the post next winter - though he hopes the job will stay in the family, as his son Adam currently coaches the Dexter Middle School team.
"What David has done really goes beyond coaching," said Dexter athletic administrator Steve Bell. "His contributions are much deeper than what you see on Wednesday nights and Saturdays. His oversight of the kids' grades, their personal lives, as well as the coaching on the mat has meant so much to the kids he's coached.
"He's been a fatherly figure to them, and some of that is why he's been able to get so much out of these kids."
Gudroe was inducted into the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame in 1996 for his exploits on the mat during the mid-1970s, when the state's high school wrestling world consisted of just one class.
As a freshman in 1973 he won the 138-pound state title and was named outstanding wrestler of the championship meet. He finished second at 145 pounds as a sophomore before winning the 145-pound crown as a junior and the 155-pound state championship as a senior in 1976.
He also placed third in the New England championships as a junior in 1975 and second at in his weight class a year later.
Gudroe eventually joined the coaching ranks, helping out at the high school for a year in the early 1980s and later coaching at the middle school level. He took the varsity job amid some desperate circumstances in the early 1990s for a program that was one of the state's early powers in the sport - winning eight state titles between 1962 and 1971.
"They were going to do away with the program," said Gudroe. "They didn't have big numbers back then and the cost was going up, and they didn't think it was worth it. The school board had already talked about dropping it, so a lot of us who were supporters of the program went to the school board meeting, and I said I'd coach the team for nothing if they'd pay for the busing.
"They agreed to it."
The program survived, soon it began to thrive - and eventually Gudroe even began to get a stipend for his work.
Dexter won four consecutive Class C state championships from 1997 to 2000, followed by three straight runner-up finishes from 2001 to 2003.
It was a stretch fed by strength at the middle and lower weight classes from the likes of three-time state champions Kenny Armstrong (1999, 2000, 2002), Sean Cole (1996, 1997, 1998), Adam Paige (1997, 1998, 1999), Aaron Thomas (2000, 2001, 2002), Kenny Welch (1996, 1997, 1998), and Adam Gudroe, who like his father and uncle became a three-time state champ with titles in 1997, 1998, and 1999.
Dexter has remained competitive since then, finishing third at the 2004 state meet, second in 2005 and fourth this year. Recent standouts for the Tigers have included four-time state champion Chris Barkac, three-time champ Jeremiah Barkac, and two-time winner Billy Greene.
Not surprisingly, Gudroe has seen change over his more than three decades in the sport.
"There are a lot of differences," said Gudroe. "The rules and the styles are different. When I wrestled it was more rough and tough and bang and crash. Today, a lot of these guys win by one or two points, it's takedowns and takedowns and takedowns."
Whether competing in one style or coaching in the other, Dave Gudroe brought wrestling success to Dexter both ways.
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