I am a volunteer assistant wrestling coach at a high school in Arkansas. This is my first year at coaching and I've been at it since September. I just wanted to take a few minutes and make some general comments and, hopefully, get some advice from guys who've done this for a while.

1. Wrestling is relatively new in Arkansas, so finding qualified wrestling coaches is difficult. That's why I'm coaching. I have wrestled quite a bit in my life but I've never coached, and it's been a real education (for me). There is so much I thought I knew but I am not always great at imparting what knowledge I have to the kids.

2. Wrestling at our school is definitely wrestling on a budget. Other sports like football, basketball, and baseball get first pick in terms of the facilities and players. We've spent many rainy days running the stairs in the halls, doing sprints and push-ups on the hard floors when the gym and the mats weren't available.

3. Our wrestlers are (mostly) very low-income kids. In Arkansas, kids from the private schools and from more affluent backgrounds go to the Arkansas Wrestling Academy where they have access to Pat Smith, a four-time NCAA champion. My kids can't afford that sort of thing (many of them don't even get a square meal in a given day unless they eat at school) so they really have to rely on our head coach (who's good) and me (who's learning).

4. Nutrition is a real problem. The kids often do not have access to high-quality food. They (and their families) eat a lot of fast food and just general junk. I find it difficult to lecture a kid on nutrition when he has no choice in what he eats or may not even get but one meal a day.

5. With all these difficulties, I have to say that the rumors about today's youth being lazy and addicted to cell phones and PC games are false. These kids work out until they puke. They want to learn. They want to improve. They walk to school and to practice. They throw themselves into the workouts, and they are so incredibly nice to each other. I thought high school wrestlers from an inner city school would be so mean to each other. Not these guys. They try so hard to push everyone to do their best.

So, you can see that I have a lot of reasons to worry about these guys and to wish that I could somehow provide better instruction for them. I need to improve my ability. I need to learn more and learn how to teach. But, the good news is that I come home from practice and I feel good. Not because of any sacrifices I may make (those are minimal) but because of the sacrifices I see these kids making to try to improve, to encourage each other, and to achieve something. I just wish there was more I could do.