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Adam Hall reflects on family, wrestling and Asian-American heritage

by Joe Wedra, Special to

As a part of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021, USA Wrestling has had conversations with leading representatives in the sport to share their stories and celebrate their success and impact on the wrestling community. 

Adam Hall, currently the associate head coach at North Carolina State University, has been a steady presence in the national spotlight in wrestling for over a decade. Hall ranks second in all-time wins at Boise State (122), earning All-American status twice and qualifying for the NCAA tournament four times. He took fifth at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Team Trials and saw time coaching at Columbia before stepping into a coaching role with the Wolfpack.

Hall is outspoken about the impact that his Asian heritage has had on his career, and how he proudly represents his heritage both on and off the mat. His mother Linda’s extended family is from Japan and, according to Hall, she has truly has helped to instill a competitive and driven mindset. 

“I think I draw a lot of strength from my Asian heritage… My mom is probably more passionate about wrestling than both myself and my dad,” Hall said with a laugh. “Having perspective is so good, because she’s the one who afforded me the opportunity to go and do things. She was always so involved with wrestling. There’s definitely a family aspect to it.”

Hall, who grew up in a small rural town in Idaho, says that growing up as an Asian-American wrestler was a unique experience. He notes that there were not many other Asian-American wrestlers as he grew up in the sport, but is passionate when he speaks about how meaningful his family connection was as he climbed the ladder of success in the wrestling world.

Without hesitation, the Wolfpack coach shares openly about his extended family’s steadfast support, tight-knit mindset and constant interest in his journey. When his son, Theo, was born in 2020, he said it didn’t take long for excitement and well wishes to come rushing in. 

“They have text chains, e-mail chains, everything under the sun to prepare for family reunions and everything that is going on,” Hall described.  “When my son was born, my mom blasted it out to the entire family that the next generation, maybe and hopefully a wrestler, was here.”

For Hall, being able to see examples of hard work and passion toward even things like family connection has been meaningful. When thinking about his Asian-American heritage, he describes thinking of his family as both motivating and special.

“My mom is one of 13 and I have just a ton of cousins,” Hall said. “I have some aunts that are well into their 80s who are active, playing golf, traveling, doing all of these great things, and I’m pretty motivated by my family history and what is going on…

“There is some background and history in terms of why I’m proud of the family I come from. It’s always so interesting to think about all of the people who have truly helped me get to where I am at. I go to a lot of matches in California, where a lot of my mom’s family is from. All of my aunts, uncles, they all show up. They try to be at as many things as they can, and it really does just mean a lot to me.”

The promotion of this month is important and potentially groundbreaking in the sport of wrestling, says Hall. The possibility of having his voice making an impact for the young Asian-American community coming up through the sport is something he feels is a unique platform.

He admits that growing up, there was not a large Asian-American representation around wrestling. Now, working in the highest levels of the sport in the U.S., he hopes to have an impact on not just the promotion of wrestling as a whole, but spotlighting the opportunity to other Asian-Americans who might be looking to make a difference through the sport he’s made into a lifestyle.

“I think getting my voice out there, I hope it’s something that continues what we all say — anybody can wrestle. I think it’s one thing that should be able to draw people from different backgrounds, religious beliefs, races and sizes…

“I would probably say [to aspiring Asian-American wrestlers] to represent our sport proudly. If this is something that you really want to do, then be all-in on it. You can be a great representation both athletically and culturally in our sport. I think that there’s a unique opportunity because you can say that there’s an underrepresentation of Asian-Americans in our sport in the U.S. I think that they have the possibility to just be a great representative.”