West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on a Sport Custom-Made for Small Sportsmen

I am noticing a trend on the wrestling scene that is quite disturbing to me.

As a scholastic grappler, I competed at 95, 103, and 112 pounds. The reason is quite obvious; I'm a little person. And if it wasn't for wrestling, I would not have been offerred the opportunity to excel in athletics.

What has me amazed is the number of forfeits I have noticed in the lower weight classes over the last couple years. I know that there are still a lot of smaller athletes out there. Boy, are they missing the boat not wrestling! Why wrestling is custom-made for us guys with smaller frames!

In my opinion, the problem for many scholastic half-pints (like myself) is two-fold in nature: (1) creating unrealistic goals, and (2) using specialized sports as a security blanket.

Creating Unrealistic Goals
There are very, very few "Rudy" stories in this world. I enjoyed playing junior high football and shooting hoops in the playground, but I intuitively knew these activities were not conducive to youngsters of my size. This is why I believe that us little guys must create realistic goals that ultimately could catapult us into the sports limelight. Wrestling can do that. Oh, the mat sport involves a lot of dedication, but in the end it can pay off with a college scholarship, an academic degree, and success in a sport that truly honors our athletic abilities. Huntington's Kenny Chertow ( an Olympian who now conducts very success-oriented clinics), Jimmy Martin, M.D. (NCAA Div. I Champ), Bobby Weaver (Olympic Champion, presently a banker), and our own Bobby Douglas (the national and international awards are too numerous to mention) are all men of small stature who had realistic goals that were wise choices. There are so many more petite mat champions that it would take volumes of books to describe their wrestling and lifetime accomplishments.

Using Specialized Sports as a Security Blanket
Too often, I have observed adolescents of my physique competing in such events as football and basketball. I think it is great they are participating in these sports. However, what I also noticed was whenever these athletic aspirants did not make a tackle, gain any yardage as a halfback , out-maneuver a basketball opponent, or retrieve a rebound -- people consoled them by saying "Don't feel bad, he was much bigger (or taller) than you." What a great security blanket; you can't be blamed for inadequate performances due to your body built. Though wrestling allows for no excuses and asks for an athletic work-ethic second to none, it offers you the opportunity to succeed on an equal playing field. As for myself, not only was I extremely small at the beginning of my high school career, I also had to contend with the fact that my older brother Floyd was a middle-weight state champ. I was a little kid who accepted the challenge, and so can you, with the chance to experience more success and self-fulfillment than you could ever image. It is a contest that offers you unlimited possibilities. Yes, wrestling is truly an athletic medium that affords all of us "mini-sportsmen" a juncture to flourish.

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