West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on How Wrestling Prepares for Life

On a number of occasions, I have talked about how wrestling teaches a person not to give up when faced with dilemmas in this world.

I want you to consider the following adult-living negative situations which occurred to former wrestlers I know, so you can understand how they dealt with them.

1. A friend I respected as a wrestler was told by his guidance counselor that he would never graduate from college due to his past high school grades. He not only graduated from a fine university, but went on for a master's degree, and I am told he is now pursuing a doctorate.

2. There was another wrestling buddy of mine, who moved to a new area, bought a house and learned he was out of a job one month later. He hung in there, found another job, and now owns this home, and is now doing quite well for himself and his family.

3. My wrestling partner in high school began his teaching career in an inner-city school. His first two weeks were "hell" because he could not control the kids. Moreover, his principal suggested that he might have to be dismissed. Well, he quickly cleaned up his act, disciplining those who deserved it, and left the school loved by the kids and respected by the aforementioned school administrator and his teaching colleagues.

4. A mat opponent of mine was at the point where he and his wife couldn't make their monthly payments. Further, he could have easily won in bankruptcy court. Instead, he worked out a plan with his creditors and spent six years getting completely out of debt. He is now quite well-off and enjoying his retirement years, along with his wife.

5. A wrestling champion I knew in college went through a period of depression in his life and almost had a nervous breakdown. He fought through it and today is a much stronger and happier person for it.

6. A heavyweight wrestler on my college team was offered a college head wrestling coach position (which was a job he always dreamed of possessing) by the school's athletic director. Unfortunately, three days later he learned that the president of the college vetoed the athletic director's decision and hired a personal friend of his. Thus, this individual determined to work harder as a K-12 classroom teacher and learned that he had much more to give in molding the minds of younger students. He later received many professional awards for his efforts.

7. A wrestling teammate of mine with average ability, who I roomed with in college, decided that he wanted to be a high school wrestling coach. He worked very hard but never produced a great team in over 30 years. But let me tell you this, every one of his former wrestlers revere him, and have turned out to be very productive citizens, as professionals, craftsmen, and general contractors. In other words, he taught them, through wrestling, the importance of working hard for their keep and taking pride in what they do.

8. Finally, I know a devotee of wrestling who competed at the University of Pittsburgh under legendary coach Rex Peery. He wanted to be a literary author. Upon graduating from college, he began writing and for years was rejected by just about every publishing house. But he was determined. Today, this individual is a renowned, Oscar-winning screenwriter and author of numerous novels. You might have heard of him - John Irving. He attributes his success as an author to what he learned as a wrestler, regarding perseverance.

This is just the tip of the iceberg and I could go on and on but I think you get the point. All of these men attribute their participation in wrestling for developing character-building traits that have prepared them to face the defeats and triumphs of living in a highly competitive culture. And to be quite honest, having experienced the positive qualities of the mat sport for many decades, I couldn't agree with them more.

"Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow by conflict."
- William Ellery Channing

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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