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Guest Opinion
Ducks need to keep wrestling

MY VIEW ? The pure sport plays a special role in Oregon
By David Gillaspie

, Aug 7, 2007 (4 Reader comments)

This is an open letter to Dave Frohnmayer, president of University of Oregon, and Pat Kilkenny, athletic director of University of Oregon, about the recent decision to cut wrestling from the university?s roster of interscholastic sports.

Like both of you, I come from a unique place in America, small-town Oregon. Because of our shared roots, we can agree a state is more than its major cities. We also know that small towns ? the sort of places we came from ? make Oregon special.

In many small towns, wrestling season is the only season on the calendar. As wrestling goes, so goes the town. Burns wouldn?t be complete without a wrestling parade. Through wrestling, kids from small-town schools gain a certain inner quality they carry the rest of their lives.

With the home gym packed for a duel, friends of wrestlers see firsthand one of their own mix it up on the mat. No helmets or gloves or cleats. They see a guy in shoes and a singlet go head-to-head with someone just like them.

At the end, win or lose, the friends see their buddy walk over and put his warm-ups back on. After a loss they see him standing alone. It?s this guy they remember when they have to take a stand.

A wrestler is more akin to regular students, someone they can relate to. He?s in the science lab, playing trombone in band, doing the extras. He runs an extra mile, works an extra hour. That he asks so much of himself encourages his friends to do the same.

You?ve both seen these kids on Oregon college campuses. Kids with a little more bounce in their step, fresher gas in their tanks. These are the kids you want to point to as University of Oregon graduates. They are Ducks for life, and you don?t want to lose them.

Young wrestlers from small towns throughout Oregon have their hearts set on joining the tradition of Duck Wrestling. That is their dream.

In North Bend, for example, the dream began with Coach Dave Abraham. He wanted guys who could cut it in Eugene. He sent many who tried. If you were good enough, you might be a Duck. In the last few years of his coaching career, even Coach Abraham became a Duck.

High school wrestling needs the dream of University of Oregon Wrestling.

Robin Reed, arguably the greatest American amateur wrestler, came from Portland?s Franklin High School. On his travels before the 1924 Olympics, he stopped at Iowa State long enough to teach proper wrestling.

Richard J. Sanders of Lincoln High School headed for Russia after the 1972 Olympics to show them how the local boy works the mat. Sanders and Fred Fozzard of Marshall High were the first American World Freestyle Champions.

They are wrestling history, and they belong to us, as much as Duck Wrestling belongs to the greater wrestling family. University of Southern California won?t cut football and UCLA won?t cut basketball, sports with distinct associations to those schools. Wrestling preserves a unique quality in Oregon, one of only seven states where both name universities have teams.

Duck Wrestling isn?t ready for the archives. A successful UO wrestling team is icing on the cake of a thriving athletic department. Please don?t scrape it off.

David Gillaspie of Tigard is a former wrestler for North Bend High School, class of 1973, and a wrestling fan.

Reader comments
Re: Ducks need to keep wrestling
Coming from a small town(in Arizona)myself I can appreciate the perspective and the point Mr. Gillaspie makes. Too many universities have their eyes on the prize of competing with the "BIG" schools in the nation that they have lost sight of those that they were created to serve first and foremost. In this case, citizens of Oregon and the surrounding Northwest. Access to higher education is gained not only through a hoop, field goal or even honor roll. Some talents are brought out on the mat. And remember, just because someone is good at something, it may not be the ONLY destiny for fame. Who knows if that next Nobel Prize winner isn't the one pinning the guy on the mat?

"Matt Oftedahl"
(Not verified)

Tue, Aug 07, 2007 at 04:00 PM

Re: Ducks need to keep wrestling
These are great points. I myself was a kid who got an opportunity to attend the University of Oregon and attain a great education because of the wrestling program. Now, because of a decision by a few people and in this writers opinion not in the best interest of the people of ths great state, many others will not have that chance. This state has produced great wrestlers and individuals over the years, and will continue to do so. Hopefully the University of Oregon will realize the importance of the program and keeping it, and re-instate it. The administration can be heroes if they decide to be a leader for the opportunities of many young men, rather than tow the party line that the sport is being dropped due to changing trends.....Actually the trend is that wrestling is growing at virtually every level in most every part of the country, except at the Big time college level. We all know what has happened in the last 30+ years to many programs across the nation. In my mind that is reason more than ever to stand up and be a leader, be "out front", as I believe the admin used on that fateful day- Friday, July 13th. Be a leader and an example for young people, do what sports are supposed to teach young people....get up, dig your feet in and battle when in a tough spot. Pick yourself up, get tough in a tough sitaution and find a way. Be a team player, have integrity, perseverence. If you want baseball, cheer, whatever else...find a way to do it, but not at the expense of another program with a long proud history such as the wrestling program. When I signed a letter to attend the U of O, the teacher education program was dropped that spring, a major that I was set on going into during my undergrad. I kept my commitment to the university and the program. Now the University should do what is right and keep their commitment to these young student-athletes.

"Wrestling supporter"
(Not verified)

Tue, Aug 07, 2007 at 06:02 PM

Re: Ducks need to keep wrestling
After the past month and all I have heard about how this whole thing transpired I still am in shock. Wrestling is a sport that has given me everything i have in my life. I came from a very rough neighborhood a family with not alot of money, a family that had one car or no car at times. I did learn the value of a dollar and I learned how to sacrifice with the combination of how I grew up and because of the sport of wrestling. I knew my parents gave me all they could and they were the most supportive parent I could of ever had. I knew we didnt have alot and I knew my way out and my way to achieve high above was to wrestle. My dream came true as I received a wrestling scholarship to a Pac 10 school and was able to wrestle in the NCAA tournament a couple times. Most importantly, I was the first in my family to graduate from College. The sport taught me how to be tough when hard times happened. This sport builds men and builds men of character. I hope the University of Oregon will re-consider and do what is RIGHT and keep wrestling. I want other young men that are in the same position I was in to have the opportunity I had. They deserve a college education and a chance to rise above all.


"Wrestling Fan"
(Not verified)

Tue, Aug 07, 2007 at 06:21 PM

Re: Ducks need to keep wrestling
Very well worded throughout the article with great historical accounts for those within the NW "wrestling family" to recall and reflect on. Nicely done!

""your brother""
(Not verified)

Tue, Aug 07, 2007 at 11:18 PM