West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker
National Wrestling Hall of Famer

Today marks the 32nd year of the column. Boy, does time move forward?

For those readers who are unaware, this is my first year of retirement from teaching school. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel not going back to school this fall. To my surprise, although I really miss the "kids" very much, I realized I didn't miss the daily routine. After 40 years as an educator, I know I made the right decision.

But I'm not retiring from my avocation - wrestling. It has always been the love of my life. Why? Let me explain.

Through wrestling I learned many positive attributes in life. The most important trait I acquired from the mat sport was "perseverance."

To be totally honest, I have had bouts of depression over the years. And they've been self-induced. I am an obsessive-compulsive individual, which can be both a blessing and a curse.

It is a blessing because whenever I start a project, I won't quit until it reaches fruition. On the other hand, it is a curse because when I'm not busy, I tend to dwell on negative things (past transgressions, etc.) over long periods of time.

Believe me. Emotional ailments can be just as painful as physical ones. I speak from experience. It's true - "We are our own worst enemy."

How do I combat it? I pray and persevere. God blessed me with this gift of perseverance via the sport of wrestling. Through wrestling, I learned that nothing is ever as good as it seems, nor as bad as it seems. Prayer and perseverance can see us through all trials and tribulations.

In my opinion, wrestling, more than many other sports, teaches its dedicated participants not only to persevere, but also those character-building traits which are off-springs of perseverance. Below are a few:

Self-Reliance: If you don't get it done, it won't happen.

A Work-Ethic: Nothing of value in life comes easy; you must drill (or work) to perfection.

Sportsmanship: Because wrestling is a sport of persevering, opponents respect one another, knowing the physical demands expected from all their fellow mat men - be they neophytes or veterans.

Teammanship: Champions are made in the practice room when teammates are determined to push each other to their limits. They don't quit moving until the final whistle. In other words, practice-room perseverance produces champions in competition.
Yes, prayer and perseverance are the keys for conquering your worst rival - "Yourself." That's why I love wrestling.

Mat Talk Afterthoughts
As mentioned previously in this column, I have not given up my involvement with wrestling. In fact, I am now coaching again. I have been blessed with a rare opportunity for any father; I am assistant coach under my son Rick Welker, who is the head wrestling coach at Triadelphia Middle School.

Not only does Coach Rick Welker have a total understanding of the sport of wrestling and how to develop wrestlers into winners, he also is a great motivator of kids.

But just as important, Coach Rick Welker is a wrestling strategist. He has the uncanny ability to know when and where to place wrestlers during both dual meet and tournament competition. I am learning from him. It's a dream come true for me.

The top wrestler can indicate the neutral signal, raising both of his arms, anytime wrestling action has stopped. This means that he is willing to give his opponent an escape point, rather than trying to ride him. At this point, wrestling will continue in the neutral position.

Mini-Mat Quiz
Q: Wrestler A asks to take the optional offensive starting position after he and his opponent go out of bounds. The official informs him that since he can now give his opponent an escape rather than trying to ride him, the optional offensive starting position is no longer an option. Is the official correct?
A: Absolutely, not. A wrestler can still use the optional offensive starting position because some wrestlers use it to start their unique riding strategies.

Mat Notes
The Coach Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestler of the Week and the Deaton-Regis Picks of the Week by Larry Deaton - dean of Ohio Valley wrestling officials - and Jack Regis - another longtime OVAC mat arbiter - will return to this space as the mat season picks up steam. We will also include the "OVAC Wrestling Fan of the Week."

WV Hall of Fame Notes

This year's 7th annual National Wrestling Hall of Fame (WV Chapter) Banquet was held at the Embassy Suites in Charleston on October 25th.

This year the late Bill Van Horne was inducted into the Hall. In my opinion, Bill Van Horne was the most prolific sports editor/writer the Valley has ever produced. Dubbed the "Dean of Sportswriters" in his time, Van Horne cared deeply about all sports, not just the so-called "major sports." We wrestling enthusiasts deeply cherish his affection for the mat sport.

His adoring wife Gladys and step-son Todd Fullerton elegantly spoke on Bill Van Horne's behalf. It was a joyous occasion for the inductees, their families, and friends.

The Wrestling Drill Book edited and authored by Bill Welker, with over 16,300 sold nationwide, and/or his DVD: Bill Welker's Pancake Takedown Series, would be great Christmas gifts for your favorite wrestler! To purchase an autographed copy of The Wrestling Drill Book or the DVD, the cost for each is $25.00. A "SPECIAL" price of $40.00 is offered for both. Just send a check or money order for $25.00 for one or $40.00 for both (shipping and handling is included) made payable to:
Bill Welker
110 North Huron Street
Wheeling, West Virginia 26003

Don't forget to send your return address and any personal note you want Bill Welker to write, with his autograph. He will accept requests until December 22, for The Wrestling Drill Book and/or DVD to arrive in your hands before Christmas!

Mat Message
"Sometimes, when people believe in you, you learn to believe in yourself."
-- Bill Welker

(Dr. Bill Welker can be reached via e-mail at: mattalkwv@hotmail.com)
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