I know that, you know that ... but we all know the 'Boro.
I know that, you know that ... but we all know the 'Boro.
I'll give you the real short version. It was either concentrate on wrestling or probably end up in jail.
The long version to come soon.
Oregon Wrestling Forum www.theowf.net/the_owf
Don't you know who I am? I'm the JUGGERNAUT BIATCH!!
Not sure really where to begin on this as my college team really is just something for this transplanted Minnesota to brag about from time to time when Minnesota makes a run for a title. So if you were to ask me what my college team means to me I would really just say they are where I put my focus in general as a fan when Fall/Winter rolls around.
Taking the lead from many of you others however, if you ask me what the sport in general means to me I have a little bit more to reflect on. As a kid growing up I moved around alot. By alot I mean just about every 1-3 years until I graduated from highschool. It was tough picking up every so often and moving to a new school but I think it taught me an ability to learn to get to know people and put myself out there rather than wait for people to come up to me. By the time I was in highschool I had already moved 5 times. In St. Louis, I joined a soccer team which was fine but I just didn't fall in love with the sport. Having come from Des Moines, IA before that I was playing hockey and liked the sport but had joined too late and was already WAY behind skill wise. In St. Louis however I joined a club called Bonhomme which was a club and was part of AAU at the time. It was a really different experience as it was really like learning how to crawl, walk and then run. I joined the club not knowing anything about the sport and so was a little bit overwhelmed at first. The nice thing about the sport however was the leveling of the playing field in terms of having weight classes. When I got paired up against kids in my own weight and around my age, even though I didn't have the skills, I learned very quickly and seemed to have good strength and conditioning from having played other sports. I have told this part of my story before and remember my first tournament in the Parkway West District. My first match was against a really small wrestler. He was a good 3 inches shorter than me and I was very short for my age. He had a t-shirt on that had stated that he was the AAU Missouri State Champ the last three years. I hesitated a little bit in seeing that at the age of 13 he already looked like a pocket Hercules. I kind of shrugged when I looked at my dad and thought, lets give it a go. I was pushed around the mat for what seemed liked HOURS to look up and see that it had only been 2 minutes. The first time my head hit the mat from a solid double leg takedown (you all know that feeling right) I kind of woke up and got a little bit pissed and started pushing back a little bit. This isn't one of those stories where I end up coming back and beating the guy so don't hold your breath. I did last in to the 3rd period however before losing by superior decision or whatever they called it at that time. I shook hands with the wrestler who just kind of slapped my hand and walked off the mat. I took off my shoes, looked up at my dad and smiled. I was hooked. That kids name, Sammie Henson. LOL. All of my matches from then on were down hill. I had some success that year even qualifying for the state tournament in AAU. I came back the second year and placed at state my second year and then decided to join my 8th grade wrestling team that winter. My freshmen year I moved up to wrestle in the Varsity Room against some really good competition. What I realized about this sport versus any other is that the tougher my competition got and the more I learned from each person I faced, the better I began to wrestle and the faster the gap closed between myself and some of the other wrestlers I was facing in the wrestling room. At that time we had a 93 lb. weight class and I even got on the mat a couple of varsity matches that year when our regular 93 lb. wrestler went down. I got pummeled pretty good but kept getting better.
We moved the summer of my freshmen year to Apple Valley, MN. What a change it was for me to go from a pretty decent wrestling team in St. Louis to a really solid program at the time in Apple Valley. The competition I faced there on a daily basis was intense. I got much better on my feet and very humbled as I was fighting to even keep a spot on the JV team as a sophomore. I went up to 105 but made my way down to 101 after Christmas with the weight allowance and competed for the Varsity spot against some pretty good wrestlers in Brian Kemp and Joey Vennewitz. I lost all but two of those wrestle-offs that year but against those wrestlers I didn't feel too bad. Both of them went on to some pretty good careers in hindsight so I believe that I was pretty fortunate to have these guys in the room to roll around with every day. That year we as a team took 3rd place at State. Not a stellar year but at least my first chance at going to the state tournament and getting to experience what that was like.
That summer my dad took a new job and we moved to Mankato. Again, a huge change from Apple Valley. The day I moved there I got a call from the coach who basically plugged me in at 112 lbs. The wrestling room had a total of about 18 wrestlers compared to up to 40-50 at Apple Valley. I didn' have really good competition in the room however there were some alumni that used to come down and cave my head in from time to time from Mankato State (Dave Lindbloom and Andre Harnitz). I actually enjoyed wrestling more at a smaller school and even though I don't think I grew as much as a wrestler, I found myself really enjoying the sport for the first time since that first time on the mat. We had very limited team success but I believe we seniors that left that team left it much better than we found it. We were a close group and I still talk to some of those guys to this day.
I tried wrestling at college my freshmen year but the program at Gustavus was coming to a close. We were in our last year of fielding a team and only about 11 guys were out for the team. The only person of any significance from that team was a kid named Nate Soukup from Owatonna that had ever really done anything at the state level. We kept in shape, wresteled some REALLY good teams from Augsburg and St. Johns and generally enjoyed our time. I knew that would be my last year in wrestling and tried to soak up as much of it as I could. I also know now that I would really like to get my kids in to the sport if they have an interest and I know that I will be involved in coaching or assistant coaching when the call comes in from any of there coaches.
Wrestling game me a stability in my life when I couldn't find any. It gave me friends at new schools when I needed a sense of belonging. Wrestling game me confidence and pride. While I also played football and golf at the varsity level, none of them gave me anywhere near the feeling of competition. I would lie awake most nights before my matches anticipating how I wanted to wrestle and if I knew who I was going to wrestle, I would visualize the match and how I wanted it to go. I really loved the sport even though I was not from a "wrestling" family as no one else in my family knew anything about it and used to tease me about my singlets. LOL. By the time I graduated however and my dad got a chance to watch me wrestle at state my senior year I saw the pride in his eyes that comes from a father watching his son do something that he hadn't anticipated. He was always supportive even once coming up to me and smiling while telling me through clenched teeth that if he ever saw me throw my headgear again or act with bad sportsmanship that he would walk out on the mat and pull me out of the gym himself.
I KNOW I have rambled on here but having read r.payton's post, it motivated me just to write about the sport that I love and the feelings I have for it. Thanks for listening.
Last edited by goferphan; 11-21-2008 at 02:19 PM.
"Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until they speak."
I wrote about my background before, so I'll try not going over old territory. Like many of the others here, I grew up in a jock neighborhood (3 all-staters in football, b-ball, gymnastics) on the outskirts of a factory town. I never had did well in those sports. I'm the youngest of three brothers. Two choices: submit or get tougher.
We all wrestled as kids because in my area, that's what you do. I'm not a natural, but when I met my junior high coach (ex-Iowa varsity, National Qualifier, ex-marine), I thought that if I was going to prove something, I needed to do this. I wrestled through high school. I was never a great wrestler, but I'm glad I did it. Wrestling demonstrates the value of hard work and determination.
My college team to me represents a legacy. I may be from the sticks, but folks from my area have a responsibility to keep the tradition, to demonstrate every day what hard work and focus can do. We try harder. That's what we expect of ourselves, and that's what we expect of our wrestlers.