He has deemed himself the worst coach, he strives to be the best dad, and with the help of UFC middleweight Deron Winn, he’ll have the greatest resources in the sport at his disposal.
When Deron Winn stumbled across Dike-New Hartford women’s basketball coach Bruce Dall’s tweet of a picture hugging a six-and-a-half-year-old child on the wrestling mat with the caption, “He couldn’t have a worse wrestling coach than myself but I will always be there for him in his corner,” it hit him differently than most pictures possibly could.
He didn’t know the relation, didn’t know the situation, didn’t know the people in the picture, but he could tell Kinnick was special to Bruce and he took action.
“Bruce and his wife have been married over 20 years,” Winn explained. “She’s had four miscarriages and they’ve tried to adopt multiple kids and nothing was working out. They finally adopted one baby, and if you get an adoption the mom has three days to change her mind and on the third day the mom changed her mind, so they had to give the baby back.
"They said that they had like two weeks left on being in the adoption agency or something because you have to renew it every year with things like background checks and stuff like that. I guess in those last two weeks, they got a call about Kinnick, and he was supposed to come in in three weeks, but he came in in three days. They were in their last weeks, and they literally said they weren’t going to renew it because they were kind of giving up hope. They were like, maybe this wasn’t meant to be.”
Winn was more inspired than ever, making it his personal mission to give the Dalls and their miracle child a trip they’d never forget. After only a couple short days of Winn’s GoFundMe to get the pair out to California for the greatest week of wrestling instruction any wrestler could ever ask for, the goal was met. Bruce and Kinnick will be going to California.
The picture that was snapped at one of Kinnick’s worst moments has been parlayed into unimaginable heights.
Hey guys, I'm raising money for Help bring Kinnick & Bruce to our wrestling academy. This story got so much traction and I’m so inspired to help. Thanks for all the love. This summer will be epic! I am attaching story as well. https://t.co/mMd1x0EnaH #GoFundMe— Deron Winn (@DeronWinn) January 18, 2022
“That was his third wrestling meet of all-time and he’s a bigger kid for his size,” Dall said. “He’s in the 99th percentile for his size at his age so he’s getting pitted against bigger kids. I just have no answers for him. He came over really upset and was crying because his forehead had hurt. It wasn’t hurt, I think it was that he was just kind of handled a little bit had upset him.”
Coming from way, way outside the wrestling and MMA world, Dall has spent the last 27 years of his life coaching varsity women’s basketball, catching only brief glimpses of the UFC on Saturdays after games or on off-nights. He always enjoyed the spectacle, but never thought in a million years that very community would be rallying around his family in the way that they have.
In fact, Dall’s decision to put his son in wrestling didn’t come from an abundance of time on his hands or a childhood full of wrestling of his own; he just saw Kinnick having fun around the house and jumped at the opportunity to help him excel at something he seemed to enjoy.
“He’s such a strong kid and he likes to wrestle at home,” Dall said. “There’s interest in it with his ‘papa,’ which is what he calls his grandpa. They do a lot of wrestling, and we want to expose him to all different sports. At the time basketball comes around he’ll probably do that, too, whether he likes it or not. I just thought I would be able to see him succeed at something he may be good at.”
Bruce, I don’t know you but sometimes a picture can say a thousand words. Please bring your boy out to Cali this summer to one of our camps. I’d love to help you grow to understand the sport better and help Kinnick improve his skills. I’ll cover camp fees! Let’s get in touch! https://t.co/A8Io21vhWc— Deron Winn (@DeronWinn) January 15, 2022
On January 14, Dall had no idea his post with Kinnick would get attention in his own town, but it didn’t matter.
His wife sent him over the picture and that took him back to a “bad day” at wrestling that they were able to work through. Kinninck may have bad days wrestling every now and then, and his dad may not be able to instruct him through positions with Nick Piccininni-level precision, but he’ll always have his dad as a supporter in his corner. That was the point, and the point quickly reached a level of viral that had Dall and everybody he works with taking notice.
“I tweeted it out and it got retweeted and finally it got retweeted enough that Deron saw it after somebody retweeted it,” Dall said. “He probably saw it after the sixth person retweeted it. It just snowballed and went from local, Northeast Iowa to worldwide. It was starting to catch fire a little bit even in other countries.”
Fast forward just over a week later and Dall isn’t just taking his son on his first “big trip” - Deron Winn and his followers are helping the entire family go on their first cross country trip.
“I’ve never even flown before,” Dall laughed. “A big trip for me is like a trip up northeast and to cross into Wisconsin and back, or southern Minnesota for a girls’ basketball camp. I have to do some thinking about that. The biggest trip I’ve ever done, me and my wife got married back in 1994 and went down to San Antonio and over into New Orleans and I’ve been to Colorado, but I’ve never been to the east coast or west coast or anything like that.”
It was a sport that centered around a small bit of fun in the living room. The wrestling world and the MMA world saw what Winn saw and took their time to center their world around them.
A week in California may not be the wave of the magic wand that will turn Kinnick immediately into a Hodge Trophy winner, but he’ll know he’s being nurtured and it will help his dad avoid ever feeling like he has nothing to offer while he’s in tears on the wrestling mat.
“I feel like it’s a great opportunity to be exposed to a world that has the potential to help my child,” Dall said. “Anything that I can gain from Deron and his knowledge and his experience is going to be huge. If I can take a handful of things he has to offer and apply it to Kinnick, then it’s a win for me.”
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