West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on How Wrestling Prepares for Life

On a number of occasions, I have talked about how wrestling teaches a person not to give up when faced with dilemmas in this world. I will cite a few examples of this such real-life situations. I want you to consider the following adult-living incidents that occurred to former wrestlers I know, just to see how they dealt with them.

1. A friend I respected as a wrestler was told by his guidance counselor that he would never graduate from college due to his past high school grades. He not only graduated from a fine university, but went on for a master's degree, and I am told he is now pursuing a doctorate.

2. Another buddy of mine, who moved to a new area, bought a house and learned he was out of a job one month later. He hung in there, found another job, and now owns this home--and is doing quite well for himself and his family.

3. My wrestling partner in high school began his teaching career in an inner-city school. His first two weeks were "hell" because he could not control the kids. Moreover, his principal suggested that he might have to be dismissed. Well, he quickly cleaned up his act, disciplining those who deserved it, and left the school loved by the kids and respected by the aforementioned school administrator and his colleagues.

4. A mat opponent of mine was at the point where he and his wife couldn't make their monthly payments. Further, he could have easily won in bankruptcy court. Instead, he worked out a plan with his creditors and spent six years getting himself out of debt.

5. A wrestling champion I knew went through a period of depression in his life and almost had a nervous breakdown. He fought through it and today is a much stronger and happier person for it.

6. A heavyweight on my college team was offered a college position by a department head, only to learn three days later that the president of the college vetoed the chair's decision and hired a personal friend. Thus, this individual worked harder as a middle-school teacher and learned that he had much more to give in molding the minds of younger students. He has received many professional approbations for his efforts.

7. Another matman with average ability, who I roomed with in college, decided that he wanted to be a high school wrestling coach. He worked very hard but never produced a great team in 20 years, and he's still at it. But let me tell you this, every one of his former wrestlers revere him, and have turned out to be very productive citizens, as professionals, craftsmen, and general laborers. In other words, he taught them the importance of working for their keep and taking pride in what they do.

8. Finally, I had the privilege to know another wrestling adversary who was very creative as a writer. Upon graduating from college, he began writing and for years was rejected by just about every publishing house. But he was determined. Today, this individual is an accomplished writer and a widely published journalist. He, too, learned from the mat sport not to give up!

This is just the tip of the iceberg and I could go on and on but I think you get the point. All of these men attribute their participation in wrestling for developing these character-building traits that have prepared them to dace the defeats and triumphs of living in a highly competitive culture. And to be quite honest, having experienced the positive qualities of the mat sport for many years, myself, I couldn't agree with them more.

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Updated August 11, 1997