West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Keeping Your Cool in Wrestling

Whenever wrestling, use your head!

Prior to the season this year, a coach told me that his boys would not be intimidated on the mats. Furthermore, this coach went on to tell me that his wrestlers would probably retaliate if unnecessary roughness occurred to them during a match. I realized that it was useless to explain to him what would happen. As is usually the case, his boys would probably be penalized because officials normally see the second act of unsportsmanship, not the initial one. After talking to this athletic mentor, I was reminded of my brother and how he handled such situations.

To begin with, my brother was what an oldtimer would call a "streetfighter" (no guns or knives, please). As a sixth-grader, my friends and I were being pushed around by a teenager who was my older brother's age and a head taller than him. Floyd didn't like what he saw and told the boy to stop, which this bully ignored, studying one who looked into his chest while talking. A mistake! Floyd and this juvenile fought fist-and-cuff in front of my buddies and me for more than half an hour. When it was over, no one won, but the boy walked away and never bothered us again. So, what does this have to do with the point of my story. Listen carefully.

As a senior, Floyd was wrestling in the PA District Four Championship Finals. During the third period of this match, Floyd was winning the bout handily when his opponent began to bang his head against the mat. Floyd did nothing, and the official awarded him a match point for unnecessary roughness. His adversary had the gall to do it again, and as before the referee awarded Floyd another point for unsportsmanlike behavior. My brother won the match 10 to 2. So again, what's my point? If you haven't figured it out yet--Floyd used his head. He was smart enough not to retaliate because he knew every time his opponent acted in such an unbecoming manner, he scored a point.

Later, I was with Floyd in the locker room after he showered. His final's adversary looked into the room while Floyd was dressing, looked into Floyd's eyes, and left--the best move he made all night. Had he verbally and physically confronted Floyd there, I can assure you it wouldn't have been Floyd's head banged around this time. Yes, my brother used his head, and so should you. There's a time and place for everything. When it comes to athletics, play to the fullest by the rules, be it victory or defeat--and you'll never have to feel ashamed. However, if you lose your cool, only you will be made the fool!

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Updated December 2, 1997