West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

Confessions of a Wrestling Official (Part 1)
I have been officiating wrestling matches since my high school days. My scholastic coach had me referee inter-squad wrestle-offs because I seemed to have a knack for officiating the mat sport.

In 1973, I became a registered official in West Virginia for the first time. During that same year, I was coaching wrestling at Wheeling Central High School. I gave up officiating when I began coaching the mat sport in 1976 at the newly consolidated Wheeling Park High School.

After an exciting and successful four seasons of coaching at Park (ten years coaching in all), I decided to hang up the wrestling room whistle to devote full-time to refereeing the sport I love. I thought I would revolutionize officiating in the area.

What I really learned, in some ways, taught me the realities of human nature, while in other situations humbled me.

Allow me to explain.

My forte as a referee is multi-faceted. First off, I have a subtle understanding of who has or doesn'thave control in very unusual match predicaments. Secondly, I have an acute sense for out-of-bounds situations, and how to make the correct call. Finally (and you can ask any coach), I am consistent and, more importantly, I am fair.

Now for my weakness - and that of all mat officials: STALLING! Like the "balk" in baseball, "traveling" in basketball, and "holding" in football, stalling is such a very subjective call. As for myself, when it comes to a wrestler stalling, I would classify myself a moderate to conservative. But the important point is - I am consistent.

So what have I learned over theyears as a wrestling official? Well, no matter how many tough (but right) calls I have made over the years, somebody was upset, accusing Bill Welker of cheating or costing their wrestler the match. It doesn't bother me a bit: it comes with the stripes.

What does intrigue me is the irrationality of human nature. These same people completely forgot all the mistakes their wrestler made throughout the bout. Instead they only took into consideration my final decision. Thus it was perceived that I, alone, decided the match. But such is an element of our human nature, which I fully understand.

No matter how much we might know about something, all of us blunder in various facets of our lives, even the great ones. You need only study history and the military miscalculation of America's most beloved Civil War general at Gettysburg- Robert E. Lee - to realize what I am saying.

As for myself, since my initial years, of officiating, I learned that I am also fallible. Yes, I have makde mistakes (as officials in all sports do), but they have always been errors of judgment, and not of integrity.

Because yours truly has no egocentric qualms, next week I will share with my readers another "Confession of a Wrestling Official."

Return to the West Virginia Mat Thoughts Index Page
Return to the WV-Mat front page