NEW PODCAST: Jim Gruenwald, 2-time Olympic Wrestler, Wheaton College Wrestling Coach


Jim Gruenwald enters his ninth year as the head coach for the Wheaton College wrestling team in 2017-18. He is also the Head Strength Coach for Thunder Athletics.

Gruenwald, a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic Greco Roman wrestling team, came to Wheaton after serving as an assistant coach for U.S. Greco Roman wrestling team at the U.S. Olympic Education Center in Marquette, Michigan from 2005-09. Gruenwald finished sixth at 60 kg in the Greco Roman competition at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and was 10th at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. A three-time U.S. Champion, Gruenwald completed his competitive career in 2008 as a National Champion. He also won titles in 2003 and 2004.

Gruenwald is a 1994 graduate of Maranatha Baptist Bible College, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Math Education in 1994. He compiled a four-year record of 154-19 on the mat in his career at Maranatha. Gruenwald was a three-time National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) National Champion, earning MVP honors in 1989 and 1991. A former Wheaton Invitational Champion, Gruenwald is a member of Northwestern University’s Midlands Championships 20-Win Club, with 22 career victories at the prestigious tournament.

Jim and his wife Rachel have six children: son Adin and five daughters, Arwyn, Ava, Autumn, Aleyse and Ashley.

On this episode of the podcast, Coach Jim talks about the motto “Jesus Christ is life, the rest is just wrestling,” why he believes balance is stupid, competing in the Olympics, and how he recruits his players.


3:30 – Where the motto “Jesus Christ is life, the rest is just wrestling” came from.

8:40 – Using that motto as an outreach to share the Gospel

10:05 – Where faith in Christ began.

15:20 – His wrestling career and the journey to the Olympics

19:40 – Being an Olympic athlete and competing and what it means to represent our country.

23:05 – Sharing his faith in a post-match interview.

24:40 – Coaching from a Christian worldview.

25:50 – Balancing the sports and faith world as a parent and as a coach.

31:30 – How he conducts his recruiting.

35:40 – The story of his assistant coach Dan Olsen

44:45 – What the Lord is teaching Coach Jim right now.


“Jesus Christ is life, the rest is just wrestling.”

“I know this is true. I know that there is a God. I know that Christ died for me.”

“God is going to ask me, ‘what did you do with what I gave you?'”

“Balance is stupid. We don’t want a balanced life. I tell my kids, don’t live a balanced life, live an all in life.”

“I’ve learned to be all in where I am. I want to be 100% where I’m supposed to be every moment.”

“For me, Bibiically, we’re supposed to work for 6 and rest for one and on that rest, we’re supposed to honor God. We still need to put God first.”

“Why did Christ heal on the sabbath? Because it was the right thing to do.”

“Is God a priority in my life, or is my kid’s sporting event a priority?”