West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Wrestling Setbacks and Life

by Pete Cuffaro Guest Columnist

A lot of things that a student-athlete experiences in the sport of wrestling can be applied at a later point in life. Let's explore one small aspect of this learning experience--"Setbacks." Losing is a negative word in our vocabulary. It is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as "the failure to win or (the act of) being defeated." However, in my personal vocabulary, I consider a loss to be only a temporary setback.

Throughout your life you will be competing to reach and obtain certain goals you have set for yourself--whether it be in athletics, studies, or work--and you are going to succeed (win) or you are not going to succeed (have a setback). The wrestler, of course, faces this dilemma every time his foot touches the mat, not just on a personal level but on a team level as well. It is very admirable that a wrestler competes but not everyone can be first and some matmen finish second and third, which often leads to a bitter taste in their mouths.

The difference of just being second or third depends on how these young men respond to placing less than first. If they accept their second and third place finish, they are just that--second or third place finishers. However, if they evaluate their performances in order to learn, improve and overcome the same mistakes the next time they face their opponent, then they can look at themselves as true champions.

Setbacks tend to dampen your enthusiasm and it is a very serious problem that has to be dealt with. Because when you lose your enthusiasm, you usually just go through the motions and are not concerned with succeeding. This is why learning from your miscues is important so that you can avoid the same mistakes in the future--and fall prey to the "negative enthusiasm trap."

In sum, our society places much emphasis on winning, but winning is not everything. The most important aspect in anything you do is the EFFORT you put into trying to win or obtain your goal.

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Updated March 25, 1999