Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Am Wrestling - Do Not Weep For Me

This speech was given as a farewell tribute to Marquette University wrestling at a gathering in Milwaukee, WI. on 11-3-01 by Ohio State Head Coach Russ Hellickson.

From the ancient walls of Samaria and from Hieroglyphics written on the tombs of Egyptian Kings, we know that wrestling is a sport of the ages. It touches the lives of all who participate in it and many times even those who just observe it.

Who can forget the emotional victory of Jeff Blatnick over cancer before his gold medal win in Los Angeles in 1984 or the heart rendering upset victory of Rulon Gardner over previously undefeated wrestling icon Alexander Karelin in Australia at the 2000 Olympics.

You can see the impact of the sport in the eyes of even its youngest combatants. Perhaps in apprehension of that very first one on one or that glorious twinkling elation that comes from the first victory over the vanquished foe.

And for those who stay the course for a career, their eyes reflect a passion that penetrates deep into their very soul, a look that impacts for a lifetime and yes a look that makes them what they are.

Here is an image that I want to leave with each of you tonight:

I am Wrestling! Do not weep for me!!

Weep for those who will never experience me.

Weep for those who will never feel the exhausting pain of my training,

Weep for those who will never sense the bond of camaraderie that once established, will never wane or die.

Weep for those who will never comprehend the demands of my discipline

And most of all, Weep for those poor souls who will never miss me, because they never knew me.

I am Wrestling! Do not weep for me!!

I have been experienced in virtually every culture and civilization known to mankind.

I have been contested in over 150 documented forms in written history.

There is no Nation on this planet that throughout all time, has not experienced me.

I am Wrestling! Do not weep for me!!

Look to those seated around you and think of the qualities that make them what they are:

Accountability, responsibility, persistence, fortitude, strength, compassion, work ethic, ingenuity, determination, integrity, honesty, focus, diligence, and resolve.

Wrestling is not the only place they could acquire these, but By God they all reside here!! And if you live with me long enough these will become you.

I am Wrestling! Do not weep for me!!

No political agenda or political interpretation can ever destroy me. My merit and my worth is no threat to any cause, but rather through my values, I am a model for others.

I am Wrestling! Do not weep for me!!

Celebrate what I am, celebrate what I have been, celebrate what I represent, and celebrate the many ways I have impacted your life. I will survive this test as I have survived others, I am forever etched into the very fiber of all mankind.

The world needs me.
Time is on my side.
History guarantees me!

I am Wrestling! Do Not weep for me!!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Two Thousand Ducks

by Beasey Hendrix

When I first started coaching I did as most young coaches, I followed the coaching model that my coaches had used in teaching me. They were move- based coaches who taught complete moves as the secret to scoring. You started here and ended here. Start-to-finish was a compete move which had to be done as a whole-- in proper sequence----to be successful. AS I became more experienced as a coach and moved to higher levels of competition I began to see different approaches to coaching. In the late 1970's I was introduced to the seven basic skills, being promoted by USA WrestlingÕs newly developed coaches Education program. This approach was the result of a scientific approach to analyzing and identifying the major components of successful wrestlers' skills. The research identified seven basic skills: stance, motion, level changes, penetration, lift, and two throwing skills: back arch and back step that were consistently utilized by the world's best wrestlers.

My eyes were opened. I could now see a new way of teaching, a way that would allow me to better reach my students.

I searched for information on this skills-based approach. USAW had pamphlets that explained the approach, and were offering a bronze level certification seminar that included instruction in this approach. I attended one of these three-day seminars in Waterloo Iowa and was overwhelmed by the amount of coaching information and ideas exchanged there. The seminars promoted the idea of being a total coach, working on more than just learning wrestling moves and being in good condition. They also reminded us that nutrition, mental skills, and strength play important parts in our athletesÕ tool boxes.

After I became Bronze certified I returned to my program and began refining my new approach. I saw where I could now teach wrestling without relying on the move approach. I noticed that most athletes learn whole moves and had drilled them as such in practice, therefore learning the concepts as whole units. A problem would often occur in matches when an athlete tried his move, and the move was disrupted before completion. Many athletes then had problems with knowing what to do if their sequence was broken. They had trained their movements as a step by step progression where step two followed step one. If they were halted in the midst of a step, it became hard for them to know what step to do next. They had lost their place and needed to go back to the start to get a fresh attack!

The more I watched, the more of this I noticed. It was a common problem among athletes taught by many different coaches. Was there a way I could help my students become better skilled, more successful wrestlers by changing my methodology? Could I train them differently to help them overcome what might be a flaw in what is considered our sport's normal teaching progression?

I soon began studying sport psychology. One of the aspects of sport psychology that intrigued me was the modalities or learning styles of students (athletes). I learned that some students were global thinkers. They liked to chunk things together into wholes. They often have problems breaking things down into the parts. Other learners are analytical. They like to learn step by step progressions. BOING it hit me. We most often teach using a global style. The students don't learn the parts; often because many coaches didnÕt know how to label the basic parts (skills) that USAW had discovered. I wondered how I could incorporate this discovery into an approach that would assist my athletes in overcoming this common problem?

I began my skills-based coaching. It is an approach that focuses on learning wrestling by learning the seven basic skills as opposed to learning 1000 moves. This approach opens up an athletes' scrimmaging and competition skills and allows him to understand that there is more than one way to skin a cat.

So, what are the differences between move-based coaching and the skill-based approach?

The philosophical explanation would take too long, so please allow me to clarify what I mean. IÕll compare the two approaches using a common move most coaches teach. I like to use my duck-under approach to show the difference.

Let's say you were teaching a duck-under using the move-based approach. How would you do it? Many coaches start with stance, then they have their athlete make contact with a collar and elbow tie-up. They then move into a drop-step and corner movement to get behind the foe. When they have successfully introduced the skill and it parts they allow the students to practice the unit and pick up speed of performing (master the move) by drilling. The student would now have the knowledge of how to complete a single duck-under, probably a monkey swing type, which is a common first duck-under taught by most coaches.

I start at the same place by introducing the move and showing my athletes what it is and what it is called. But I immediately go into a different labeling system. We talk about attack side and weak side. We also mention the concepts of freezing a side and making a window.

I show my athletes the idea that they can duck from anywhere as long as they freeze a side, make windows and then hit their penetration and corner skills. The possible combinations leave us with over 2000 potential duck-unders!

Don't believe me? Then watch as I do a little mind control and show you over 2000 ducks! We are going to learn a set of moves called the duck-under series. It is based upon the idea of freezing the weak side while making a window on the attack side, we make contact, lower our level, and then you penetrate with a go- behind motion on the attack side. Watch as I do a basic duck-under. Stance, motion to a contact point. I Freeze his collar on the weak side, I take inside control of his elbow on the attack side, I make a window, lower my level, and then explode and turn the corner to go behind, and then finish with a knock down.

Which is one of about four major finishes.

Now let's look at the series. I originally froze his collar. Is there anywhere else I could freeze to make this move work? Yes, there are many places. I could freeze his head, neck, trap, shoulder, triceps, weak-side elbow, forearm, wrist, he could have my wrist, underhook, lats, waist, hip, attack side knee (high crotch)--good,and what about the window; how many different ways can I make a window on the attack side? Cup of water. Underhook. My Elbow out. My elbow up. Wrist up. My wrist up. Head bump.

Great. Now you can see that we can hit a duck from many different situations. Let's see how many possibilities we have.

Stances (3)

Finishes x(4)

Sides x(2)


weak x14 side freeze points


windows x7 openings


Of course you probably have other things you can do. We have explained and listed +2300 ways, but in real life there is only one way. Freeze, window, drop, penetrate and turn. This should become your way of thinking. It doesn't matter what you touch, or how, if you do your skills you will be able to take control of the situation anytime you can freeze the weak side and take advantage of an opening on the attack side.

A note to coaches system builds for transfer as your athletes soon see the same situations occurring on double leg--anytime they feel a freeze side and then have an opening they learn to turn the corner. I teach this concept by chunking the cornering techniques into a term I call peeking. My athletes soon learn that when I yell 'Peek' it means to look around the corner towards their foe's far shoulder, and then follow their glance and turn the corner, going around and behind.

You will soon start to notice your wrestlers scoring with those 'non-moves' from scramble situations. This approach also allows your more advanced athletes to move towards the concept of stacked or layered series where they put several movements together to form a complex attack-react-to-counter-movements approach in their wrestling. This approach offers a suggestion that helps answer a common question put forth at my coaching clinics, and that question is: how do we teach the wrestlers to move to the next level of being able to flurry or use more than one move?

Now my approach resembles yours closely, but instead of my athlete learning 1 duck-under, he ends the practice with the ability to complete over 2000 duckunders, and he has learned this in the same amount of time that your kid learned ONE!

So, by being exposed to new ideas through USAW's coaches certification program I gained a new way of looking at coaching and a new method of teaching that improved my coaching skills, thereby improving the performance of my wrestlers. Of course this approach took some time and effort to organize and implement into my scheme of things, but I can say that it has helped me become a better coach and it has helped my athletes move up the ladder of success.

Beasey Hendrix is a USAW gold level certified coach. He is a two-time USA Olympic Team trials finalist, and has been the mental skills coach for Team USA Greco since 1995. Junior wrestlers from his local programs have made the USAW Junior National finals nine times, and twice have been named outstanding wrestler of the event. His clients have won 16 World or Olympic medals, including six golds and 7 silvers! He is the author of Wrestle to win! and Wrestle Your Perfect Match!, both books which explain and describe psychological skills preparation of wrestlers. He has presented over two dozen seminars for coaches and athletes at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO.


Shadow Drilling - A Key To Becoming A Champion

by Ken Chertow

Shadow Drilling is a great way to develop your skills, speed and conditioning. I was a boxing fan during elementary school, watching legends Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali on television. I learned that shadow boxing plays an integral role in the training regimen of every boxer. When I started wrestling in middle school, I quickly incorporated shadow drilling into my training program. I was slow and chubby so my shadow drilling was not very fluent, but I steadily improved every day. I would stay after practice and rehearse the moves that I knew until I felt like I could do them reasonably well. I had a mat in my house so I would also shadow drill my moves in the evenings after doing my homework and strength training. Shadow Drilling teaches you to control your body. Let's face it, until you have self control, how can you execute a move on a partner, especially if he is fighting back.

Shadow drilling is not just for beginners. It remained a significant part of my training regimen throughout my high school, college and international career. It can play an important role in the success of wrestlers of any skill level. If my memory serves me correctly, I remember reading an article in AWN a few years ago by John Smith and more recently an article by Dan Gable in USA Wrestler on the benefits of shadow drilling. However, I cannot recollect ever seeing an article outlining specific methods of shadow drilling. These aforementioned articles discuss the importance of shadow drilling but not actually how to go about it. Thus I will tackle this topic in the following paragraphs. Forgive me if this is elementary to some of my coaching peers. However, if you pick up a couple little things it will be worth the five minutes it takes to read.

Shadow drilling is an integral part of my Olympian Wrestling School Training Program. In a two hour practice, shadow drilling will typically encompass 5 - 12 minutes of the structured workout. Early in the season we do it at the beginning of practice for skill development and later in the year we do it at the end of practice to develop speed and conditioning. At my summer camps, I make my students shadow drill before and after sessions to review the techniques that have been taught. Shadow drilling not only helps your physical skills and conditioning, but it also enhances your retention of technique and gives you more confidence in your techniques. You can shadow drill just about any move, but the following is a list of the Top 10 Team Shadow Drills that I believe are the most practical and effective. Five of these drills are for takedowns and five are for bottom work. It is difficult to shadow drill pinning combinations, but you can use visualization and imagery skills to rehearse top techniques. It is amazing how much riding time you can accumulate if you put your "mind" to it.

1) Inside Step Attack Drill - Instruct your students to all face one direction and do body fakes and level changes from a low staggered stance. When you yell attack and/or reach your arms up, they should quickly shoot a double or high crotch to a double and drive across such that they rotate 180 degrees and are facing the opposite wall in a low stance after each shot. If their right leg is in front of them they should rotate to the right (as if driving "away from their head") and vice versa. This will teach kids to change dircections quickly and to get an angle on their shots.

2) Knee Spin Sweep Attack Drill - Tell students to stay low and move laterally as if trying to make opponent step forward so they can hit a head inside sweep single. When they attack they must spin on their lead knee and swing their back foot around to get an angle. Make them finish quickly on their imaginary opponent, ideally by quickly picking up the leg or reaching behind and catching far leg while still on their knees. Wrestlers should immediately get back in low stance and resume lateral motion after every shot.

3) Back Arch/Back Step/Sag Drill - Once students understand the skills call this "Throw Drill". Have wrestlers pretend they are in an upper body over - under or other tie up situtions and call off moves such as lateral drops, hip toss, headlock and other techniques that require the back arch, back step or sag throw skills. Make sure they are all facing the same direction before each throw, particularly on the back arches.

4) Sprawl Drill, Sprawl and Spin (on hands) Drill and Sprawl Re-shot Drill - Insist that students immediately return to good stance and create motion between each repetition. Combine these sprawl with attack drills listed above.

5) Random Attack Drill - Combine the four drills detailed above with an array of other techniques. You yell out what attack you want wrestlers to do and they quickly react. Start off with simple techniques but once they get a hang of it over time be creative. After each shot make them all circle in a good stance, so they are all facing the same direction before you call off the next attack. This drill teaches kids to chain wrestle on their feet going from one move to another and is a great conditioner.

6) Stand Up Drill - Use a whistle and give kids time to get set between repetitions. Make them explode backwards, cut away and face opposite wall in their stance after each repetition, analogous to Inside Step Attack Drill.

7) 1 & 2 Drill - Stand up and cut off for 1 point escape and then immediately attack legs for 2 point takedown. If done correctly student will rotate approximately 180 degrees on stand up and again on leg attack such that they will be facing the same wall before every repetition.

8) Hip Heist Drill - This great drill not only helps student improve their switch, sit out and wrist roll, but also enhances their ability to scramble (agility) and is an intense anaerobic conditioning exercise when done quickly for 5 -15 repetitions or seconds. Make a race out of it if you really want to see some hips and feet flying. Tell kids it is break dance training and they may actually think they are having fun.

9) Granbys - Develop an array of Granby skills on your own by executing shoulder rolls, flips, reverse granbys, shrugs, head spins and standing granbys. Make sure kids have plenty of space and all go simultaneosly in same direction.

10) Combination Bottom Drilling - One of keys to getting off bottom is putting your moves together and combination shadow drilling is a great way to learn how to "Chain Wrestle" off bottom. Have your students execute whatever techniques you tell them to do immediately when you yell the move. Start with simple combinations of two moves and then build up to doing 3,4 and more moves in a row. They should not go back to referrees position between each individual move. Wrestlers should keep moving quickly until you yell "escape"and they finish their chain of techniques with a score.

Remember, these are just examples. You can create your own sequences based on you or your teams favorite techniques. For example, if you like carries, ducks and drags incorporate them into your shadow drilling routines. If you work the head often, incorporate snap downs, slide bys, shrugs, ankle picks and headlocks. The sky is the limit. However, keep it simple at first until your students get a hang of it and then make it interesting. Variety is important if you wish to keep your students intense and motivated.

I know I am getting long winded, but I will see if John and Ron (AWN publisher and editor) have some more space for me to tell one more story. I shadow drilled often in 7th and 8th grades but got away from it a little my first two years of high school. I suppose I was so crumby in middle school the only person I could whip was my shadow. Anyway, my junior year I finally learned to bang across on my high crotches which was good and bad. Good because I was scoring a lot of high crotch takedowns, but bad because I got a huge cauliflower ear that would refill every time it was drained. After a couple months of frustration and increasing pain, I finally listened to the doctor and agreed to take 2 weeks off the mat and so the cast on my ear would work. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The first day that I had my cast on it practice, I did all the running and exercises with the team and then watched while they drilled and wrestled. I was bored to death sitting out. It was at this time that I rediscovered shadow drilling. During the ensuing 2 weeks I shadow drilled endlessly while my teammates drilled and wrestled. Not only did it help me stay sharp and in shape, but it also helped me develop my mental skills. Shadow drilling enhanced my confidence. In addition to thinking about the moves I was hitting, I was also imagining myself beating the tar out of every opponent that stood between me and a State Championship.

At the end of this 2 week "layoff" our team had a major 32 team tournament that I had to enter without any contact practice. I was not sure how I would perform being "off the mats" so long, but things went great! I had one of the most focused performances of my career, dominating everyone and winning my first ever outstanding wrestler award. In the finals I beat the #4 ranked wrestler in the state by technical fall scoring seven takedowns. It was like he was not even there. It was just like wrestling my shadow at practice. Everything I hit worked perfectly. I had beaten this same opponent by a 7-4 score only 5 weeks earlier. Although I am sure there were many factors involved in this unique performance, from that time on I have been totally sold on the benefits of shadow drilling. It was instrumental to my success as an athlete and it has played an integral role in the development of the many students I have coached. I encourage you to make shadow drilling a regular and intense part of your training schedule as you strive to have a peak performance in your most important competitions.


Drilling - An Essential Building Block Of Champions

by Ken Chertow

If you wish to perfect your techniques so that they work at the highest levels of competition, you must stay focused when you are drilling. Too many wrestlers go through the motions when they drill just putting in time. If you do this, you will not reach your fullest potential. Intense drilling is essential if you are going to develop your skills to their fullest.

It is essential that you understand the importance of drilling and use all the drill time your coach gives you efficiently. Never stand around. Make the most of every second. Find a reliable drill partner who is willing to work with you intensely throughout the course of practice. If your coach tells you to drill a move five times each and you do it twice as fast as your teammates, make sure you keep drilling until your coach tells you to drill a different move. Never do a certain number and then stop and wait for everyone else to finish. Then you will only be as good as them. Execute as many quality repetitions as you can in the allotted time.

There was a huge bulletin board in my high school wrestling room that said "Through repetition you can learn a move so well that no one can stop it. If you want it bad enough, it is only a matter of time." Read this quotation again and think about it. It truly sums up what it takes to learn and perfect a technique, so that you have the confidence to hit it instinctively in the heat of battle. I took this quote to heart throughout my competitive career and make the youngsters I coach today drill endlessly. If you are going to truly believe that no one can stop you, you must have drilled your techniques quickly and crisply thousands of times. Repetition Drilling is essential if you wish to make your techniques instinctive. I will now share some stories with you to illustrate how much value I place on drilling and how essential drilling was to the development of my skills.

When I was in high school, many of my teammates did not drill with the intensity necessary to excel. I did not waste my time with the kids who were just going through the motions. I had a few favorite drill partners that I spent most of my time working with. One teammate in particular, Bobby Taylor, was able to drill with the same intensity that I did. We spent at least 80% of our drill time working together during high school practices. We became very comfortable drilling together and were able to help each other excel. Not only would we drill intensely during practice but also prior to matches. Our drills prior to big matches were short(10 minutes) and crisp, but our drills before dual meets and between rounds of tournaments were quite extensive. We figured that if we sat around between sessions we would be wasting valuable training time. During tournaments we would drill for 20-30 minutes between every session and then warm up together again immediately before our matches. By our senior year there would often be crowds of kids just sitting around the mats between sessions of tournaments watching us drill. Our peers thought we were crazy but we were simply focused on achieving our highest goals. We did not do it for show. We figured that in the long run the more repetitions we did the better we would get. We were right. Bobby and I both won State Championships our Junior and Senior year. Bobby earned a scholarship to and graduated from Clemson. He is now coaching in Chapin, South Carolina where his team has won three State Championships. Coach Taylor has undoubtedly taught his students the importance of intense drilling.

My Olympian Summer Camp students and parents often complain to me about their lack of good coaching or off season workout partners and facilities. My feeling is that if there is a will (to create a good training situation), there is a way. When I was a kid growing up in West Virginia, there were no spring freestyle clubs. Once the regular season ended, it was hard to get mat time and a workout partner let alone find a club. Few wrestlers or coaches even thought about wrestling once the season ended. Even my best friend and training partner, Bobby Taylor, had other interests in the spring. Fortunately, I was able to get Tony Dickens, a wrestler from a school 30 miles away, to workout with me regularly. He proved to an intense and reliable drill partner. I learned freestyle and Greco-Roman by watching videotapes and attending camps, and we did all the drilling on our own with no coaching. Our school principals would not let us on the mats without supervision and the State Athletic Association would not let our coaches work with us in the off season. We had to beg the custodians to let us into our high schools at night or meet at my house where I had a 12x12 in my basement. My home mat was great for drilling but the furniture, pillars and concrete floor made intense live wrestling a dangerous war. Thus, 80% of our workout in my basement consisted of hard drilling. Despite our far from ideal training situation, I was able to win Junior Nationals in both Greco and freestyle. Tony was All-State three times and wrestled for the Naval Academy. Upon graduation he joined the Navy and became an All American in Greco Roman. We both credit much of our success to the many, many hours we spent drilling together.

While in college at Penn State, my training situation obviously improved. I had many partners for live wrestling, but there were three special people who I spent most my time drilling with, Jim Martin, Tim Flynn and Coach John Fritz. They understood the importance of intense drilling and these were the men who I drilled with most frequently. Jim Martin became a 4x All American while Tim Flynn and I earned All American Honors 3 times. Our many years of hard work and intense drilling paid off.

Coach Fritz gave me endless hours of his time and energy training me and drilling with me throughout my collegiate career. He was the most influential coach on my wrestling career. I lost 14 matches during my freshman year of college, more than I had lost throughout my high school career. It was a huge step from West Virginia high school wrestling to big time collegiate wrestling. Fortunately, John Fritz was there every step of the way. He taught me a lot of great techniques and pushed me through many hard times. I was very fortunate that he took me under his wing and helped me reach my fullest potential. He would meet me regularly between classes to watch me drill, polish my technique and more often than not, drill intensely right along with me. I know that the extra time we spent in the wrestling room drilling is what allowed me to excel during college and make the Olympic Team.

I owe much of my success as an athlete to my training partners who I have mentioned throughout this article. Thank You! You do not need many workout partners to be successful, but you must have at least one who understands the importance of intense repetition drilling. If you do not have one, find one or develop one today. There are few exceptions to the phrase "Champions come in pairs"

Remember, drilling is only effective if you are focused and concentrating on the task at hand. Do not be guilty of "going through the motions" if you wish to excel and reach you highest goals.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

In Defense Of Folkstyle Wrestling

Recently, I came across a forum on the internet where people were discussing the reasons why Russia dominates the sport of wrestling at the international level. I won't go into all of the reasons because I just want to focus on one.

Someone suggested that Russia dominates the international scene because Russian wrestlers practice freestyle wrestling year round. They don't have folkstyle wrestling in Russia or in any other countries that I'm aware of. In America most of our wrestling at the high school and collegiate level is grounded in folkstyle wrestling. There are opportunities for freestyle wrestling but folkstyle seems to dominate in America. The person on the forum seemed to suggest that America's adherence to folkstyle wrestling was what was holding us back in international competition.

I suppose that argument has some merit. In folkstyle wrestling one is taught to control his opponent. A collegiate wrestler is even awarded a point for "riding time" if he can keep his opponent from escaping or getting a reversal for a certain length of time. A folkstyle wrestler gets awarded for being able to escape from his opponent or score a reversal on his opponent. But, in freestyle wrestling the goal seems to be to score takedowns and simply expose the opponents back to the mat. Escapes or reversals are of little importance.

Perhaps some people think that America hold on to folkstyle wrestling out of tradition and sentimentality. Perhaps some feel that if America is going to perform better in international freestyle wrestling that we should scrap folkstyle wrestling altogether and practice and compete only in freestyle wrestling. But, I disagree with that idea.

I fully admit that I am biased. I competed in folkstyle wrestling in high school and had a few collegiate matches as well. I never cared much for freestyle wrestling. I wasn't interested in gut wrenches, ankle laces, front headlocks, tilts, or throws.

I find it somewhat disappointing that controlling one's opponent means very little at the international level. If a wrestler is taken down he usually makes no attempt to escape or try for a reversal. In fact, he is expected to simply stall. In freestyle wrestling a wrestler can score points without ever actually being in control.

I think there is something to be said for being able to take an opponent down, prevent him from escaping, and ultimately pinning him. There seems to be no place for arm bars, half nelsons, stand ups, switches, and many other moves in freestyle wrestling.

We used to hold a takedown tournament at my high school after the regular season was over. It was similar to freestyle in some ways. You simply wanted to score takedowns. If you ended up on the bottom you were encouraged to simply hold your ground and stall until the referee restarted the match.
But, wrestling is so much more than takedowns.

So, does folkstyle wrestling make America less competitive at an international level? Dan Gable, Tom and Terry Brands, and Cael Sanderson seem to suggest that folkstyle wrestling doesn't hurt one's chances of winning in international freestyle wrestling.

Even if folkstyle wrestling does make America less competitive internationally I don't care. Maybe Americas do hold on to folkstyle wrestling because we are sentimental. So what? Why shouldn't we be proud of our America sport of folkstyle wrestling? I would rather have less success internationally if it means that folkstyle wrestling continues to be practiced in America.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Grill

I wrestled for Postville High School which is located in the small town of Postville in northeast Iowa. This town had few restaurants and some of these establishments came and went while others changed owners and names. But, one restaurant that was always a constant while I was growing up in the Postville area was a little place called The Grill. The Grill had a counter with stools, tables, and extra seating in the back room.

My family used to go to the Grill every now and then on a Sunday after church. My favorite item on the menu was the pork fritter. I think The Pork Fritter Plate or The Pork Fritter Dinner featured two pork fritters and an order of french fries.

You could buy very good malts and shakes at The Grill. They had good hamburgers too. My friend Wade took me there one morning after I spent the night at his house and we each had a fried egg sandwich.

The Grill became a popular place for wrestlers to have breakfast after making weight on competition days. We weighed in early and still had time to eat breakfast before school started.

My mom took me to The Grill after I made weight the first time. I had two eggs, toast, and sausage. I also had two bakery rolls and two large glasses of orange juice. My mom must have thought I was crazy when I ordered all of that food. But, I ate it all.

Some mornings local business owners would be in there for breakfast too. One banker liked to have a hamburger patty with his eggs sometimes instead of sausage or bacon. One of the doctor's wives often ordered a bowl of cereal. You could get many things for breakfast at The Grill.

The Grill had pancakes, french toast, eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, ham, and even cereal. They always had some donuts and rolls on hand that they must have picked up fresh each morning from the local bakery.

I really liked the french toast and especially pancakes. I guess I'm a carbohydrate kind of guy. I didn't like eggs quite as much. The owner's name was Jack and at some point during my high school years he added a new breakfast item to the menu called Jack's Omelet. Or, it might have been called Jack's Four Egg Ham and Cheese Omelet. I don't need to explain the ingredients it contained. I can't recall if I ever tackled Jack's Omelet or not.

A few times during my senior year I had pancakes and toast with no butter or syrup because I wanted to watch the calories. I just asked for a few small containers of jelly.

Every now and then I took the pleasure of having a chocolate malt along with my breakfast. That might not sound good to you but to a dehydrated and hungry wrestler it was wonderful.

The Grill, unfortunately, no longer exists except in people's memories. It was a wonderful place. It was a nice haven for a hungry wrestler to get a good meal so he'd be strong for his competition. Thank you to The Grill.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wrestling Tales

I heard a few wrestling tales while in high school although I didn't witness most of them. So, here's a few stories I hope entertain you a bit.

Brian Taylor was a senior when I was a freshman. He was a nice guy and very popular. He seemed to prefer a wrestling move called the "butcher" but that's not what this tale is about. I believe my older sister told me this story.

Evidently after practice one evening Brian was still over his weight limit and went home feeling a bit dejected. There was a meet or tournament the next day and Brian needed to make weight early the next morning. But, Brian was feeling down and since he was over his weight limit he said to himself, "to heck with it," and ate an entire pumpkin pie. He went in the next day to weigh in and expected to be way over but when he stepped on the scale, low and behold, he was right on weight. Did this really happen? I don't know. If so, perhaps eating an entire pie really revved up his metabolism. But, I wouldn't try it.

Another story involved the ritual of wrestlers shaking hands before a match. Well, one evening before a meet one of our wrestlers got the idea that it would be funny to have each wrestler hold out his left hand to shake instead of his right to throw the other team off. The wrestlers began doing this and got some funny looks from their opponents. The referee caught on to what was going on and told our guys to cut it out.

In the sport of wrestling there is a move known as a Japanese Whizzer. One evening a wrestler from our team had to wrestle an Asian/oriental opponent. Just before our guy stepped onto the mat to wrestle his match our coach said, "Watch out for the Japanese Whizzer." Our guy was laughing so hard when he stepped onto the mat that he could hardly wrestle.

Brad P. had to weigh in for a competition and weighed in with his pants on. Our coach asked Brad why he didn't step on the scale in his underwear. Brad said, "Well Coach, because I'm not wearing any underwear."

Randy was quite a ladies man. One evening while wrestling in a meet he and his opponent went out of bounds near the cheerleaders. Randy took the time to talk to the fine looking cheerleaders and said something simple like, "Hey ladies, how's it going?" He and his opponent returned to the center of the mat and the referee said, "The next time you stop and talk to the cheerleaders it's going to cost you a point, Romeo."

Another guy named Randy was worried about making weight one day. He had heard that if you stood on your head for a minute or so before stepping onto the scale that you would weigh less. So, he asked some guys to hold his legs while he stood on his head. He was naked at the time and before standing on his head he decided that it might be prudent to put on a pair of shorts so his manhood wasn't hanging out all over the place. I don't recall whether or not this little trick actually worked or not.

Well, that's about it for wrestling tales. I burned a hole in a blanket once by putting it over me and an electric heater in an attempt to sweat off some weight. My girlfriend got angry and jealous during my freshman year when I was approached before a meet by a few girls I knew from the opposing school. Nothing too exciting for me. I never got caught having sex with some hot babe in the wrestling room or with a cheerleader in the back of the bus on the way home from a competition or anything like that. Oh, well.