For those that don?t know, the truth is the State of Kansas owes a huge debt of gratitude to this family. I knew that before the last few difficult weeks transpired, I know it even more now. I have advocated for several years now that Skip Harrington be inducted into the Kansas Wrestling Hall of Fame. There are many reasons for that, but one especially I think the wrestling community needs to know.
Skip and his family have given so much to our sport, I could go on and on there, but right now I wanted to point out some of the things Skip did along with the support of his family, but especially his wife Judi.
For many years this family has been involved in our sport. It started when Skip worked hand in hand with the Bontz?s, and the Faust?s among a few others in getting kids wrestling started in our state. But what a lot of people now don?t realize is that it was Skip and Judi who made the sacrifices and took the first steps at developing Freestyle and Greco teams for our state. In the early days, with no financial support from any individual or any organization, Skip and Judi formed the first teams involving kids and high schoolers and took them to tournaments from Texas to Iowa, and from Nebraska to California. In fact the State of Kansas Freestyle and Greco teams were started by this family, ALL at their own expense. I have heard stories of such things as where Skip would do drywall for 3 or 4 extra days, take all of the money, and take a group of kids to California. All Skip and Judi would charge for those kids participation was their USA card, and if they didn?t have money for that, they would find a way to pay for it. That dedication to our sport has continued to where his wrestlers have now become coaches. Not just his sons, but his wrestlers!
I could likely share numerous examples but Coach Knox with the Team of Hard Knox is one such coach. I am so grateful that Coach Knox got to spend time with Judi while she was able to communicate with him. But the best compliment a coach can give their coach is in the way they coach. I know that in the Team of Hard Knox room, much of the style and technique comes from Skip Harrington. I?ll never personally forget Coach Knox reprimanding his wrestlers that; ?if that old man Skip comes to talk to you, you better listen. Let me tell you all something, that old man has forgotten more than most coaches in our state will ever know. He knows his stuff and you had better listen.? I could say more, more from a personal note. I have for example been asked numerous times why my family is affiliated with Derby, the answer is always the same, ?for 2 reasons, at Derby?s practice Jeff worked them so hard my boy was sweating and had to work, but the main reason is because Skip Harrington was in the room. I know that if my son listens to Skip he will learn things that no one else will teach.?
I could go from there about how this family became a huge part in our family. I am honored that Skip and Judi adopted our son as a grandson to go along with their other grandchildren, and all of the wrestlers who called Judi Mom and Skip, Skipper, Skip or Coach. But the real indication of that was the friendship that came not only in our families? good times, but our hard times. I can think of no better way they did that than to take my family and my son under their arms and give us love. That is just the type of people the Harringtons are, despite what people may say, think and/or do. I know for a fact that Judi Harrington went out of her way to sit with us at wrestling tournaments, love on our son, and numerous others named DeShazer, Elliott, Cornejo, Knox, Madison, Stephens, and the list could go on and on. In fact before some are so quick to take praise for how some of those wrestlers have turned out, they need to remember the Harrington?s. I have drilled that fact over and over into my sons head, and I won?t let him forget it.
For at least me, and my family, this family deserves our support for what they have done, and will do for our state. In their time of grief, I think it is time that our state also gives something back. Skip and Judi have done all they have done out of love, hopefully now, our state will show them love. If you summer wrestle, at all, this is the family you need to thank. If not for them, we wouldn?t be where we are, and our Freestyle Greco Wrestlers wouldn?t have the opportunities they do.
Judi Harrington passed on last night a little after 1:00 AM. Skip was with her during this time. As plans are finalized they will be announced. Please keep the family in your prayers.
Personally, I know Judi and the family were grateful for all of the visitors and messages, especially within the wrestling community. They came in from all over, and those wrestlers especially who came to see the family, I can?t tell you how much they spoke about that. For anyone wanting to assist with food or any of those types of things, Steve and Cindy Shavlik in Derby will be the host home.
For those wanting to contribute to the substantial costs and medical expense you may do so at the following:
The Commerce Bank
For / The Harrington Fund
407 Spring Creek Drive
Derby Kansas 67037