Former Columbus gymnast reflects on career as he prepares to enter state’s Hall of Fame

Growing up as a baseball player, Dave Seal didn’t give gymnastics a lot of thought until he was in eighth grade.

At that time, Seal’s brother Steve was a junior on Columbus’ powerhouse high school gymnastics team, and Dave decided to tag along.

“From there on, they couldn’t get rid of me,” Dave Seal.

The younger Seal went on to have a stellar career both at Columbus and at Indiana State.

Saturday afternoon, Seal, now 65, will be among the six current or former gymnasts to be inducted into the Indiana Gymnastics Hall of Fame at at the Athenaeum in Indianapolis. Among the others are former Olympians Samantha Peszek, Bridget Sloan and Kurt Thomas.

“It’s humbling,” Seal said. “It’s one of those things that whenever you use the word ‘I,’ you can use the word ‘we’ because there’s so many people that make you better,” Seal said. “I’ve always been a great gymnastics environment, whether it was here in Columbus or at Indiana State, a very competitive environment, and that’s what you need.”

Seal will be the third former Columbus or Columbus North Bull Dog in the past two years to be inducted. Last year, Brent Simmons and coach John Hinds went into the Hall of Fame.

Two years ago, Seal’s college coach, Roger Counsil was inducted.

“I think highly of coach Hinds and Brent, and my college coach, Roger Counsil,” Seal said. “We’ve had several top-notch coaches that have been recognized, and that has been great, and there’s certainly been some great talent that has been recognized.”

Seal led Columbus to a state championship in 1967, the first year gymnastics was sanctioned by the IHSAA. In 1968, he won the still rings in leading the Bull Dogs to another state title.

Those championships were part of the 13 at Columbus won by Hinds, who had competed for Seal’s uncle, Wayne Truex, at Illinois State.

“Coach Hinds built a dynasty program here,” Seal said. “There’s no one that can deny that. I was just fortunate to be on two of his championship teams. He prepared me for competing in college.”

At ISU, Seal won the NCAA rings title in 1970 and 1972 and finished third in 1971. The three-time team MVP also was a three-time All-American.

Seal was a two-time winner of the Gym Master Diamond Award and was named ISU’s Athlete of the Year in 1972. He also won the Hillman Award for excellence in athletics, scholarship and loyalty.

“Coach Counsil’s program was one the move,” Seal said. “My four years at Indiana State were building years for the program. He just was growing the program and strengthening the program, and those things don’t happen overnight. It takes years.”

Hinds featured Seal in his 1972 book, “Still Rings: Skills and Techniques.”

“He’s rather modest,” Hinds said. “He’s definitely a person I felt of high character, very loyal and sincere. He worked hard to do things easily.”

Hinds plans to be at the ceremony on Saturday.

“I really can’t say enough about coach Hinds,” Seal said. “He’s just a man of great integrity. For anybody involved in athletics, your home away from home is in the gym, and there was no better place to be than in the gym working for him.”

After graduating from ISU, Seal returned to Columbus and joined the family business. His parents, Clyde and Mildred, owned The Sports Center, a sporting goods and marine business.

Seal and his wife Jane ran The Sports Center until it was hit hard by the flood of 2008. Dave Seal retired after that, and Jane just retired this summer after three decades as a teaching assistant in North’s special education department.

Dave Seal credited his late parents for his success.

“It all started at home,” Seal said. “My mom and dad were great people of great character. I got off to a good start at home, and it multiplied as I got into gymnastics with wonderful people.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Dave Seal” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: Dave Seal

Age: 65

High school: Columbus

College: Indiana State

Occupation: Retired owner of The Sports Center

Family: Wife Jane, children Rebecca Elkins and Alan Seal