West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

Learning at Practice and in the Classroom

Early last June I was watching a local TV news story on "making up" school days missed due to snow. What one parent stated made me shake my head in disgust. Allow me to explain.

The broadcast dealt with one school district's accumulated snow days, eight in all, that had to be tacked on at the end of the year.

The television reporter interviewed several people regarding the extended school year, and the majority accepted the extension. There was, however, an exception. One mother's response was "I am not sending my child to school for another eight days; after all he's not going to learn anything new in eight days." (I think the Reporter's jaw dropped.).

Well, madam, I beg to differ with you. Again, I can only think of a personal experience I had in high school as a freshman wrestler to assert my point.

It was the week of the District IV Championships. I had a cold that week and woke up on Wednesday morning with a cough and scratchy throat. As I lay in bed, I briefly contemplated staying home to rid myself of the cold. I changed my mind, got up, dressed, and headed for school.

At practice that afternoon, my coach had me practice snapbacks from the top position when an opponent sits out too far. I did it continuously for 15 minutes. I must have performed the maneuver more than 100 times during that time period.

Exhausted and irritable from coughing, I finally asked the coach, "Why?"

He tersely replied, "The boy from Lewisburg is good, but he has the bad habit of sitting out, leaning his shoulders back too far. With proper timing, you could snap him to his back. It's called scouting, so shut up."

"Yes, sir."

Sure enough, I met this particular matman in the Finals of districts, and he was a tough junior. At the end of the second period, I was losing 4-3. To make matters worse, he would have the down position the third period . Just. like today's 30 second tiebreaker, it's where you want to be, especially if you're winning. And we both knew it!

After several stand-ups which took us careening out-of-bounds, my adversary changed his strategy. On the re-start, he bit a long sit-out. Instinctively (via practice drill work), I snapped him back, surprisingly pinning him a few seconds later. I looked at my coach with total admiration, promising myself never to question him again.

Now had I not gone to that Wednesday practice, the results of the match may have had a much different outcome.

Yes, eight days of school most definitely could make a difference. A child could finally conquer his/her multiplication tables, read a complete sentence, or even discover the secret to completing a science project.

In closing, never forgo an opportunity to learn -- be it academics, sports, work, or life!

Mat Message "Forget injuries; nevr forget kindness."
-- Confucius

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