BATTLE GROUND - When Dan Russell was 19 years old, he decided he was going to write a book.
“I got about 120 pages in and my older brother asked me, ‘what are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m writing a book’ and he told me, ‘you’ll be embarrassed at what you write when you’re 19, wait until you’re 40 and write a book,’” Russell said. “So, I started writing at 40, in 2007, it only took me eight years to finish.”
Since the release of Russell’s book, titled “Finish Strong: The Dan Russell Story,” he said the response he’s received has just been “incredible.’’
“Writing a book, you never know how people are going to respond,” Russell said. “The response has just been incredible. The number one response I hear from people is that they can’t put the book down.”
“Finish Strong” is a story of Russell’s journey through the sport of wrestling and his experience at the World Cup of Wrestling in Turkey in 2007. That year, Russell was coaching a World Cup team in Turkey, which included champion wrestler Joe Warren who was undefeated that year.
“One morning (while in Turkey in 2007), Joe asked me, at 3:30 in the morning, ‘Dan, how did you finish strong?’” Russell recalled. “That gave me the title and the vision for the theme that I wanted to run through the book using my personal story.”
Although the book tells Russell’s story and journey through wrestling, he said he’s finding that “Finish Strong” is a book that everyone connects with, including men, women and youth.
“It’s a story that every one of us walks through,” he said. “We all go through tragedy and struggles, and it’s all about how you get back up. People are really resonating with it.”
“Defeat is optional, challenge is inevitable,” Russell continued. “This book is the story of overcoming tragedy and how to move into triumph over tragedy. The story goes through a number of things in my life that have taken place. It’s about how sometimes you feel you’re on the right track and life trips you up.”
Russell said he faced several challenges as he attempted to write this book and get it published. He said he met with a number of literary agents, telling them he wanted to write a memoir of his life. They all discouraged him, telling him that memoirs just don’t sell.
“The real vision for me was to write a story that was my story that my kids and grandkids would have that would hopefully help them along their journey,” Russell said. “So, I thought of it as what would a dad want his children and grandchildren to know?”
Not only did Russell want to write a book that detailed his journey, he also wanted to write a book that men would want to read, and he also wanted to share his journey of faith among all that. Luckily, Russell was able to find a literary agent who agreed to go on this journey with him and work with him on the book.
Russell said he received help from many people on this book, including a writer from England who really helped him be as impactful as he could be in the book. He even had his daughter and a few of her friends meet with him weekly to help critique some chapters.
“When it came to writing this book, that experience was such a good, healthy learning experience,” Russell said. “I learned that I needed to be vulnerable. It’s really about my struggle, things I’ve wrestled with, feelings, thoughts and challenges. The book has been received extremely well, it’s been an incredible journey. I didn’t realize going into it how difficult it is to get a book published, and the amount of books that don’t make it.”
Russell has already done a number of book signings with “Finish Strong,” including one recently at Mill Creek Pub in Battle Ground, one in Gresham, one coming up in Pasco and possibly more across the country. He said they have also already sold the rights for a movie, and had a company recently express interest in fully funding it.
“I had a congressman from Washington, D.C., who read the book and wants me to come have dinner with him, there’s a guy who’s a millionaire who wants to fly me to Vegas to meet with him, I’m just excited to see where it goes,” Russell said.
Russell is a four-time NCAA wrestling champion and was a coach in the 2004 Olympic Games. He is also the pastor at Battle Ground Foursquare Church and is the wrestling coach at Battle Ground High School.
“Finish Strong: The Dan Russell Story” is available at Amazon.com, and is also available on the Kindle and Nook, as well as at battleground.tv.