West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Wrestling as a Tool for Rehabilitation

Wrestling is now being incorporated as an instrument for social rehabilitation. Due to the aggressive nature of the sport, many juvenile detention centers are allowing their inmates to compete in it. They realize that the mat action is excellent for boys who have led frustrating lives and need a physical escape valve.

Over a decade ago, the California Youth Authority Correctional Center, housing delinquent teenagers between the ages of 14 to 18, initiated wrestling and the program has been quite productive. Their team had a 4-2-0 dual meet record against area junior varsity squads in the 1980-81 season. Yes, they have been competing outside of the prison walls.

Through the efforts of their counselor and coach, Ed McDonald, a number of these wayward boys (approximately 45) are now finding new purpose for their lives. And fortunately, surrounding secondary schools are cooperating with the Center. As a matter of fact, this year they will be wrestling teams in their area on the varsity level. Furthermore, Coach McDonald has applied to the California Interscholastic Athletic Association for permission to participate in the state qualifying tournaments.

There is one problem (if you can call it that). These adolescents normally enter the institution with 4-year continuances, but of course, with good behavior their sentences are reduced. Because of McDonald's strict enforcement of rules and regulations for all members of the team, many of his grapplers have already received paroles. So, each season, the coach has to begin training sessions with practically novice squads. However, no matter what their record is from year to year, the end result is a positive one.

In sum, I hope it is evident to each of my readers that the mat sport has perpetually been used as a constructive means for developing "character" in all environments. Wrestling teaches one very important ideal conducive to harmonious living--"Respect for one's follow man."

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Updated July 28, 1997