West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Keeping Your Cool in Wrestling

Whenever wrestling, use your head!

A few years ago, a wrestling coach told me that his boys would not be intimidated on the mats. Furthermore, this coach went on to tell me that his wrestlers would probably retaliate if unnecessary roughness occurred to them during a match. I realized that it was useless to explain to him what would happen. As is usually the case, his boys would probably be penalized because officials normally see the second act of unsportsmanship, not the initial one. After talking to this mat mentor, I was reminded of my older brother and how he handled such situations.

To begin with, my brother was what an old-timer would call a "street-fighter" (no guns or knives, please). As a sixth-grader, my friends and I were being pushed around by a teenager who was my brother's age and a head taller than him. Floyd didn't like what he saw and told the boy to stop, which this bully ignored, studying one who looked into his chest while talking. A mistake! Floyd and this juvenile fought fist-and-cuff in front of my buddies and me for more than half an hour. When it was over, no one won, but the boy walked away and never bothered us again. So, what does this have to do with the point of my story. Read carefully.

As a senior, Floyd was wrestling in the PA District Four Championship Finals. During the third period of this match, Floyd was winning the bout handily when his opponent began to bang his head against the mat. Floyd did nothing, and the official awarded him a match point for unnecessary roughness. His adversary had the gall to do it again, and as before the referee awarded Floyd another point for unsportsmanlike behavior. My brother won the match 10 to 2. So again, what's my point?

If you haven't figured it out yet--Floyd used his head. He was smart enough not to retaliate because he knew every time his opponent acted in such an unbecoming manner, he scored a point.

Later, I was with Floyd in the locker room after he showered. His final's adversary gazed into the locker room while Floyd was dressing, looked into Floyd's eyes, and left; the best move he made all night. Had he verbally and physically confronted Floyd there, I can assure you it wouldn't have been Floyd's head being banged around this time. Yes, my brother kept his composure, and so should you. There's a time and place for everything. When it comes to athletics, play to the fullest by the rules, be it victory or defeat--and you'll never have to feel ashamed.

Remember, if you lose your cool, only you will be made the fool!

(To Readers: The rest of the Welker legacy concludes with my brother Floyd winning the Pennsylvania States and a few years later yours truly did the same. We were the first brother-team to do so in Pennsylvania's District Four, a hotbed of Keystone State wrestling. To this day, we are the only brother-duo to win the coveted state crown in our high school (Shamokin), a school that spans nearly 90 years of a wrestling tradition.)

... on Talking Trash in Wrestling

Recently, I have noticed a lack of true sportsmanship during the rigors of competition, even in wrestling...one of the oldest individual athletic events.

Yes, as an official, I have witnessed what's referred to as "talking trash" between wrestlers during dual meets and tournaments. I, personally, will not tolerate such disrespectful behavior as a referee. Such talk is cheap and lessens the dignity of our sport. Be it veteran or novice, no wrestler should ever forget how demanding the mat sport is for participants of all abilities. Thus, respect should be given to all who set foot on the wrestling mat.

Of course, the problem stems from what our present high school athletes watch on TV or computer, regarding professional sports competitions. They think it's "cool" to showboat like the pros. Well, it's not; it's just another sign of the times, where mutual respect is becoming a thing of the past. The true athlete respects all who are a part of his sport...his opponents, his coaches, and the officials. To "bad mouth" anyone while competing insults your school, your parents, and most importantly, blemishes all you have worked so hard to accomplish.

Once I happened to be talking to Lance Mehl, and the subject of athletic "hot-dogging" came up during our conversation. It was very refreshing to here what this outstanding professional linebacker had to say. Lance stated that during all his years of competition, he never taunted an opponent after making a brilliant, devastating tackle. He considered such actions to be in poor taste.

In essence, it was his job to tackle the guy with the ball, and he didn't feel it was necessary to showboat after making good tackles or sacking the quarterback. As Lance put it, "I was just doing what I was paid to do--tackle."

So, the next time you think about humiliating your adversary after winning, remember Lance Mehl's words and act like a TRUE champion, not just another winner!

"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have done."
- H. W. Longfellow

Editor's Note: A former Pennsylvania State Champion, Dr. Welker is a nationally recognized authority on amateur wrestling who has published hundreds of articles and two best-selling books (The Wrestling Drill Book, 1st & 2nd Editions) on the subject in which 1000s of copies have been sold nationwide. His drill book can be purchased at www.Amazon.com or www.HumanKinetics.com.

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