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Thread: A moment of clarity: What does your college wrestling program mean to you?

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Dart Shark's Avatar
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    Default A moment of clarity: What does your college wrestling program mean to you?

    This isn't a shameless plug for a blog post, but for some reason, after writing tonight's (or this morning rather) entry ... I felt it's something we, as fans of wrestling, might need to read.

    This isn't about Wrestling 411, InterMat, Flowrestling, The Wrestling Talk, Themat.com or anything controversial or completely interesting, but just a thought I had.

    We're all wrestling fans ... and we all know what wrestling means to us. But have we ever really analyzed it? I finally did, in short.

    I'm not lying to you when I say this was a moment of clarity.

    http://bryantwrestling.wordpress.com...m-mean-to-you/

    Peace.

  2. #2
    Olympic Champ r.payton@att.net's Avatar
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    Default Re: A moment of clarity: What does your college wrestling program mean to you?

    Nothing ever made sense anywhere than on the mat -as an adolescent we had to weigh in buck naked -growing up with my maternal grandmother I had never seen another male naked -after freaking out about that my first opponent looked like Adonis on juice-but I had a secret weapon -I'd been abused my whole life and this fxxer was going to feel my pain-also ,I wasn't afraid of losing -really , what was the worst thing that could happen -so I wrestled hard for the first 2 periods then went wide open the third and stuck that little richie rich kid . I was hooked .
    I found wrestling at a point in my life where i could have went to Boy's school with the rest of the neighborhood or I could get my grades and a chance to burn so much energy that I had previously not known what to do with-easy choice there . You try to tell someone about the comradarie of the spit box but no one who hasn't wrestled just will never know .
    Just wish it could have stayed that way but i had to work to help pay the family bills as soon as I was 15-i went to work at a Pancake house -not to buy a car but to pay the rent -WTH , those were the cards I was dealt .
    I wish you wouldn't have asked this because this question and my woefully inadequate answer will plaque me for days .

  3. #3
    Ancient Arachnid Spider's Avatar
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    Default Re: A moment of clarity: What does your college wrestling program mean to you?

    I could write a book on this subject, but I'll keep it brief. Also, I'll expand it to how wrestling has affected me, not just my college program.

    Prior to my sophomore year in high school, I was a nerdy kid who never played organized sports, or many unorganized ones either. That year, a high school buddy and jock convinced me to go out for JV football. I did, and I was terrible, but I loved this world of camaraderie and physical challenge. Also, in retrospect, I'm sure I was an undiagnosed hyperactive child, and this was just what I needed.

    The JV football coach was starting a wrestling team in the school, and was recruiting football players. When I asked him if I could be good at wrestling, his answer was, "Of course you can, Jack." I later realized that that was his answer to everyone. I went out for wrestling that winter, and like football, I was terrible, but like football, I loved it.

    Up to that point, I was always kidded for being unathletic, always the last one chosen in a pick-up game of football or basketball, and the one who would run from a fight rather than face up to a challenger. One day that changed. I was in a pick-up game of 3 on 3 football, and a kid on the other team got pissed at me and asked if I wanted to fight. I said, "No, do you?" He said, "Yes," and to the astonishment of my friends who were watching, I handed my glasses to one of them and said, "Okay." His father was a professional boxer and as he put up his fists, I moved in close, hit a head chancery, threw him to the ground, and held him there until I decided that the fight was over. When he asked me why I let him up, I said that he was pinned so I won. I guess that was good enough for him and the game resumed, but I had gained the respect of my peers and, more importantly, a self respect and confidence that I had never before experienced.

    My wrestling skills improved and I had a modest, but successful career in high school and college, and have been a volunteer coach at the high school in the town where I work for thirty two years.

    My best friends to this day are wrestlers, and I give wrestling credit for an attitude that has allowed me to achieve almost everything I have wanted in life. After 40 years, I finally reconected with the guy who got me started at our high school reunion, and we now see each other often. I don't let him forget that he's the one who put me on the path that got me where I am today.
    Atrophy: what you get when you win atournament.

  4. #4

    Default Re: A moment of clarity: What does your college wrestling program mean to you?

    Jason - that's my new personal favorite of your blogs. This is the comment I posted to it.

    "I went to a college that didn't have a wrestling team. In fact, when I attended Saint Ambrose we didn't even field a football team. The Bees tried wrestling in the '40s and in the '80s and dropped the sport both times because they couldn't get enough athletes to field a solid team.

    As I always tell people, I became a wrestling fan because of a man - Dan Gable. So my first "adopted" team was the Cyclones of Gable, Peterson, Taylor and Jean. In 1972 I went to work at a youth residential treatment center in eastern Iowa. One of the other counselors had been a state heavyweight champion at Ames High School and had gone to Iowa State and been on one of those teams before transferring away from Ames. We ended up sharing an apartment for a year and he fueled the fire by sharing a little of what it was like to work with all of those greats.

    Of course, when Gable went to Iowa I "adopted" the Hawkeyes. Over the years, I've "adopted" other teams - Cornell College - when my daughter went there, UNI because my wife is an alum, Coe, because it's, literally, my neighborhood school. You see - for me it's the sport - and the people around the sport. It's what the sport teaches. It's that quiet confidence you mentioned.

    Being a Hawkeye fan I get to experience something fairly regularly that is foreign to fans of most other schools - 13,000 - 14,000 fans screaming for the home team. That's pretty heady stuff. But - much like you said - watching meets standing in the balcony at Coe or Cornell is just as much fun. Last year when Clayton Rush upset Chris Heilman to win Cornell's Matman Invitational it was as exciting to me as Henry Cejudo winning the Olympic Gold Medal.

    I've learned not to try to analyze myself too much - to just accept certain things as they are. I just love wrestling."

  5. #5

    Default Re: A moment of clarity: What does your college wrestling program mean to you?

    Jason:

    What does the University of Maryland wrestling program means to me? Sorry if this is kind of long.

    I grew up a mile from the University of Maryland campus. My father taught there for 40 years, until his death in 1986. I learned to swim, play tennis, attended my first wrestling camp and football camp (boy was that a waste of money for my father!) there.

    Growing up some of my best weekends consisted of going to the local high school football game on a Friday night, playing my Boys Club football game on a Saturday morning, rushing over to the Maryland game in afternoon, and then attending a Redskins game on Sunday! Unfortunately it was obvious to me that I didn't have much future playing tackle in high school weighing all of 115 pounds. But I'd wanted to wrestle since the first time I saw the sport at my high school and at Maryland.

    Anyway, Maryland was an integral part of my life during my childhood. Of course when I graduated from high school I wanted to go to school anywhere but Maryland!! Without the financial means to do so, I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and ended up at Maryland anyway when I had to pay for school myself.

    I walked on to the wrestling team feeling pretty cocky. Note the difference between being cocky and confident. I was about the oldest guy on the team, had competed in British Championships, wrestled for the All Air Force team....I thought I was pretty good.

    That was until Butch Harris simply destroyed me in the room during my first several months. I went through a series of rationalizations: I couldn't get off of the bottom but I figured that was because I'd wrestled only freestyle and Greco the past four years. I couldn't ride Butch, but again figured it was also due to freestyle. When I couldn't get a takedown on him I was downright depressed!!

    I hung in there even though, in retrospect, I was over my head at a Division I program. Even one that was probably average at best at the time. But I loved the sport and grew to love the school, warts and all. I wrestled for three years and lettered because the starter at my weight blew out his knee. Suffice it to say I had a less than stellar win-loss record.

    I stayed close to the program after I was done, doing what I could to help. I announced at dual meets and tournaments, worked the old Maryland Holiday Open, rolled around in the room when they needed a throwing dummy....

    I also became involved with the University of Maryland M Club, our letter winners group and, through that served on the athletic council and various other groups and committees. This provided me with the entre to our then new AD Debbie Yow at a time when programs were being eliminated. She stated soon after her arrival that she might have to cut some mens teams because of the budget mess she inherited, along with the requirements of a consent decree with the OCR, and that wrestling would probably be the first to go. She had never been an administrator at a school with a wrestling program. But she did attend dual meets and I took those opportunities to let her know about our sport and our Terp athletes.

    I take a lot of satisfaction in how far we've come since then. John McHugh coached with 5 scholarships, lower roster limits and one part-time assistant. We've now grown to a program making a mark nationally that is a fully funded program and led by Kerry McCoy and two full time assistants.

    University of Maryland wresting still serves as a touchstone when I'm dealing with stresses from work or elsewhere. Maybe it is sort of womb-like to sit in the padded wrestling room with the temperature at exactly 75 degrees :-) Our sport has the hardest working athletes on any campus. But they practice and compete relatively unnoticed by others. It is refreshing and, at the same time reassuring, to sit in the room and see such hard-working and goal oriented college athletes who also get the job done academically. We're not an elite program, at least not yet, which means that individuals that get involved can make a real difference for wrestling and Maryland.

    There is a comfortable continuum in our sport. Old wrestlers know exactly what the current wrestlers are going through. Almost instantly there is common bond and identification across the generations. My memories of practices and competition are still fresh in my mind. I guess in many respects I never felt so alive as when I wrestled. As others have noted most of my best friends all these years later were wrestlers. I've tried to convey to the current athletes that the guys on the team with them now are likely to be their friends for the next 40 or 50 years. There is a fraternal-like aspect of our common experience that is only exceeded by those who have served in combat.

    What does Maryland mean to me? There is satisfaction in knowing I've had a small part in helping sustain Maryland wrestling, but even more is a pride in the young people who have gone through the program. Not just those with success on the mat, but those who may have battled in the classroom to succeed there. It has been a constant in my life for over 30 years.
    "Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government!?

  6. #6

    Default Re: A moment of clarity: What does your college wrestling program mean to you?

    I'm really enjoying reading the responses to Jason's blog. This is the kind of stuff I come here for.

  7. #7

    Default Re: A moment of clarity: What does your college wrestling program mean to you?

    Honestly this is something I have analyzed a lot over the years. Mainly because one of the questions I get asked the most is how did I get involved in wrestling, or what is my connection to wrestling. That has more to do with the fact that I am a woman than anything though.

    I got started with the sport of wrestling 18 years ago and have not looked back. I got up at 4 or 5 am to travel to tournaments with my younger brothers and parents, I went to practice and I learned the sport. By junior high I was helping out with the team and in high school I became the team manager. I became more involved and learned so much more at that time. The coach my freshman year was great and he joked around with me a lot and made me carry mats up flights of steps which I still hate to this day, but he wanted me to be the best at what I did. So I learned all the rules and made sure I was right, I paid attention and never let the scorebook out of my site.

    There are so many other things I could write about, but not enough time. Either way wrestling has been a huge part of my life and what I wrote above is just where it started for me. I have met some truly amazing people in the past 18 years through this sport that has granted me a lot of oportunity.
    Champions are made while no one is watching.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Dart Shark's Avatar
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    Default Re: A moment of clarity: What does your college wrestling program mean to you?

    Fan IS Edinboro. Your name also says it all.

  9. #9

    Default Re: A moment of clarity: What does your college wrestling program mean to you?

    Even though I said nothing about Edinboro in the above post
    Champions are made while no one is watching.

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