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  1. #1
    Olympic Champ kr1963's Avatar
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    Default 41 year old wrestles now @ University of Southern Maine

    The Times Record > Sports > From the fire to the mat

    From the fire to the mat

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    The University of Southern Maine wrestling squad.

    (George Almasi / The Times Record)

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    Bath firefighter/paramedic Rick Chipman attends college and wrestles for University of Southern Maine ... at the ripe ol? age of 41

    BATH ? Rick Chipman has a lot on his plate these days. He and his wife Kate are expecting their first child (a boy, Tichon, which Rick says means ?on the mark?) in seven weeks.

    He is a full-time firefighter/paramedic for the Bath Fire Department and full-time student at the University of Southern Maine with high hopes of some day becoming a lawyer.

    And, oh yeah, he?s a member of the Huskies wrestling squad.

    Not bad for someone carrying around 41 years of age! And did we tell you that he also has older children, Kylie, 21, and Spencer, 20?

    Rick, who for the last six or seven years has coached wrestling at the Bath Middle School, has certainly changed gears.

    A 1987 Mt. Ararat High School graduate, Rick lives in Bath and has been with the Bath FD for 14 years, the last 10 as a paramedic.

    ?I wanted to go back to school for quite some time, but it just didn?t seem to work out. I?ve been an assistant coach at the high school and was always wrestling with the kids ... and I enjoy wrestling.

    ?One day, I just said, ?I?m going to go back to school and try to wrestle.? Going to school was the most important thing and if I could wrestle, great. I just wasn?t sure how it was going to work out.?

    And so he?s back in the halls of academia, a political science major with an eye to law school should he retire in about 11 years.

    He?s taking 13 credits, but two courses are held in Gorham and two classes on-line.

    ?I?m a full-time student, so it works out great and next semester I?ve worked it out the same ... my classes are only an hour apart on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I get out a half hour before wrestling practice starts.?

    ?I have had many different folks in all different types of circumstances and situations contact me over the years in regards to wrestling for me here at USM,? said head coach Joe Pistone. ?So, I honestly thought that it was possible to have Rick come out, but not completely sure how he would follow through with it.

    ?It?s certainly not because I did not think he couldn?t do it, but knowing first-hand how the real world works, I was not sure how he was going to balance his overall priorities: life, full-time education at USM, family, employment and the rigors and demands of fulfilling obligations of being on a competitive NCAA wrestling program.?

    Well, the time for conjecture is over, he is a college student/athlete.

    Earlier when Rick e-mailed Pistone of his mat intentions, Rick was up front about his age.

    He remembers Pistone being somewhat excited, supportive: ?Great, we?d love to have you and it doesn?t matter how old your are, you?ll be part of the team and we?ve got a great group of guys.?

    First, he had to pass an actual physical at the health center and certainly drew funny looks.

    All the wrestlers met in a lobby area prior to the physical and when Rick showed up he could feel the skepticism.

    ?I knew a bunch of the kids and coached against some of the them. They all kind of looked at me funny. I was sitting by myself at one table and they were sitting by themselves at another table. All the sports were together, like field hockey and lacrosse. And, then there was me.?

    Another 30-ish man, whom Rick found out was going out for the lax squad, sidled up to Rick and muttered, ?going through a mid-life crisis, too??

    Athletic trainers helped with some preliminary work like blood pressure and weight.

    ?This guy came out and said ?Rick Chipman?? So I stood up and walked up to him. He started looking around me and then at me and had this look on his face and said ?Really? You?re going to wrestle? You can do that? Wow! I thought there was an age limit!??

    And the doctor got a good chuckle as well.

    ?I know some kids were a little freaked out with the idea that one of their teammates is the same age as their own parent,? said Pistone. ?So, I am sure some thought they needed to ?act? a certain way around Rick, but it hasn?t even been like that. Rick is one of the guys and was welcomed almost immediately. The sport of wrestling is, in my opinion, the most bonding sport out there and wrestlers are universally connected to one another as they have that, and all that comes with our sport in common.?

    Can he keep pace with the younger wrestlers?

    ?He can, he has already won some college wrestling matches and is amongst the hardest workers in the room,? added Pistone. ?He is definitely a very competitive athlete and is right there in all of his matches. His recovery time, however, is a different story and we have to monitor any injury closely as we do not want him to get hurt further.

    A captain?s practice followed the physicals. ?I felt a little out of place. Guys were kind of suspicious.?

    The wrestlers went for a run and played a little touch football. Team-bonding.

    ?By the end of the first practice they kind of warmed up to me a little bit. They called me ?Blue? from the movie Old School.?

    After a couple practices ? eye-openers ? Rick was a real-life team member.

    The first day, an assistant coach arrived and promptly announced that the team was going to run stairs for 30 minutes. He didn?t get sick, but some did. ?Brutal, brutal. Two-hour practice. The first night we ran stairs and I didn?t know what else to expect.?

    Every night there was something different, something a bit harder on the body and soul.

    ?Probably the most grueling thing that I?d ever done in my life. It was more intense than high school practices ... I would?ve had an easier time going into Mt. Ararat high school practices than these.

    ?I started off at 196 pounds? that?s my regular weight ? and I recently wrestled at 165 pounds. I feel lighter, but I think I lost a lot of muscle, too and that?s the problem. I?m actually lifting again trying to get back my strength because I?ve been tossed around a lot in my last couple of tournaments.?

    To date, he?s wrestled six matches and won one. ?I have a college win under my belt!? He is next scheduled to wrestle on Saturday in the Ted Reese Invitational, beginning at 10 a.m.

    The Huskies compete in numerous invitationals where just about everybody can wrestle, therefore no need for week-day wrestle-offs among teammates. He will continue to wrestle and study.

    ?It (going to school) was the right decision because it was something I really wanted to do and I?m over the strange looks. At the Roger Williams Invitational most of the teams in our conference were there so most know there?s an old guy from USM.?

    At home he has a huge life-line.

    ?My wife is my biggest supporter. I couldn?t do this if I didn?t have her support ... I don?t get home until 9:30 every night because I have an hour?s drive and usually come limping through the door. I can?t eat dinner with her because I can?t eat anyway. My diet is bizarre.?

    And, yes, his first day of school was a bit on the weird side as well.

    ?I go and sit in the classroom and everybody?s looking at me. Here?s this old guy with his backpack and baseball hat.?

    He even joked with Spencer (USM Delta Chi fraternity member) about joining a frat. ?But, that?s when my wife put her foot down. She said ?I?ll support you going to school and wrestling, but not joining a fraternity!??

    He still has fire in the belly. ?I enjoy it, I look forward to it and I?ve settled in with my classmates ... I?m just one of them.?

    And next year?

    ?I?ll see how it goes this year ... so far I?ve been healthy, knock on wood. I?ve had a floating rib on my right side that happened in practice. I was a little concerned because it was quite painful, but I?ve wrestled through it. I don?t let it bother me.?

    But, the nagging muscle pulls, achy joints, etc., make him want to buy stock in over-the-counter pain relievers.

    ?Lots and lots of Advil ... it?s interesting. I come home just covered in bruises. As you age, and at my age, you bruise easier.

    ?But, I always feel good on the ride home from practice. I have a little anxiety going to practice. You know, what are they going to put us through tonight and can I handle it??

    ?Rick is the best,? lauded Pistone. ?Just like the clich?, age is just a number and everyone treats everyone on this team equally. I truly believe he enjoys being a part of this team and the opportunity that he has created and earned for himself. He is certainly one of the funniest guys on the team.

    ?The sport of wrestling is unique in the sense that it is welcoming to all ages, genders, physical characteristics,? continued Pistone. ?A 70- year-old man from Japan won the World Veterans Championship three years ago, and the cutoff was 56. I expect Rick to beat that record and win a Veterans World Title at 71. I wouldn?t be surprised.?

    Former Morse High School standout Logan Russell ? whom Rick coached in the middle school ? is a team member after transferring from Plymouth State and he wrestles at 149. They?ve sparred a few times on the mat.

    In the first scrimmage against New Hampshire, the UNH club team was stricken with the flu and brought a cut-down team to USM.

    So, Rick wrestled one of his teammates just to get in a match in and pinned him. ?That my first match, but it was with my own team.?

    The next week USM traveled down to Boston University to wrestle the Terriers and Bloomberg. They did not win a match.

    His first match that weekend ?was quite a shocker. I ended up getting technical-falled 15-0, but I wrestled the whole seven minutes. It was actually 14-0, but he had the ?ride? time.

    ?It?s so different and amazing. All of the freshman I talk to say the same thing. College is at a much different level (than high school). Totally different. Strength and the moves, the way they wrestle, the flow of the matches. I?m getting used to it, but it was quite a shock to the system at first.

    ?With college wrestling I just have to keep reminding myself that I?m a freshman. I?m a work in progress. I?m still going to take it one year at time. But, for me to reach my potential I?ll have to wrestle next year and the next to develop as a wrestler.

    ?But, I?ve taught, gone to camps with my son, done clinics and not seen a lot of the things I?m seeing right now.?

    He doesn?t view himself as an inspiration to others, far from it.

    ?I just see myself as an equal. I don?t think I?d be an inspiration to them anyway because I feel they are pretty much self-motivated. They?re 19 years old and invincible. Now, I might be an inspiration to someone else who?s 40 and pursuing a dream or whatever it might be.?

    A downside is that he misses his middle schoolers, many of whom keep up with his progress on Facebook. ?They?re following me, and of course, they think that I?m going on to nationals ... they just don?t know the difference.

    ?I?m not a world beater, but that?s all right, I just I love to wrestle ... it?s been my passion since I was a kid.?

  2. #2
    Ron Weasley LoSt's Avatar
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    Oct 2007

    Default Re: 41 year old wrestles now @ University of Southern Maine

    so awesome. Hope he keeps it up and stays injury free
    Gold is an idiot.

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