THE STRUGGLE IS THE GLORY
by Allen "Chip" Jones
It was February of 1987, and I was about to begin my final practice of the regular season as a Wheeling Central "Maroon Knight." It was the night before the West Virginia A-AA Regional Tournament and I, as usual was struggling to make weight.
Since there was no chance that wrestlers from Wheeling Central would compete against those of Wheeling Park after OVACs, we practiced with Coach Buzz Evans and his "Patriot" matmen the rest of the year. Not only did this afford us the opportunity to train with a greater variety of wrestlers, but also give us more workout competition in preparing for the state-qualifying tournament.
There is surely no more disheartening aspect of the mat sport than to feel completely depleted of energy, while the scale indicates you need to lose more weight. The physical effort required to burn-off those last ounces seemed overwhelming. And that was precisely the state in which I found myself at the conclusion of that day's practice. On the verge of tears, I donned my sweaty attire and resolved to cut the last two pounds in sultry wrestling room.
Observing me work-out as he was about to leave, a fellow "Wheeling Island" grappler jibed, "Still fat, huh?
Upon hearing my crestfallen answer to the affirmative, he suggested that I take to the swimming pool. He stated that it was there where he went when struggling with those last ounces. And added, "It spares you the agony of the 'room' and you lose the weight."
Unsure at first, I finally smiled and complied with his recommendation, as my friend headed off to catch the late bus. The pool turned out to be a nice change of pace, but came to end when the lifeguard on duty announced that the pool was now closed.
I weighed out just a pound over and knew I could easily "drift" the weight off overnight. This being the case, I called Mom for a ride home. After taking a shower, I hastily dried off, dressed, and rush out into the wintry cold with my hair still dripping and my shirt unbuttoned.
My mother arrived shortly and we headed home. Despite being a pound over, I knew I could afford the intake of eight to twelve ounces of fluid. With that, I decided to head for bed.
As I was left the kitchen, I noticed a pressure in my chest each time I took a breath, and grabbed my chest. My mother noticed my distress, and asked with deep concern if I was okay. (I always felt Mom was excessive with her concern over her children, but since have learned it's a quality that all loving mothers possess.) I told her I was fine and turned in for the night. Despite the fact that I qualified for states, I knew that I had wrestled poorly. In truth, the regional tournament my sophomore year was quite a disappointing experience on the mats. I placed fourth in the competition, losing to a chap who I defeated soundly earlier in the season. I expounded to my coach, Stan Johnson, that I was having difficulty breathing in a voice taking on the sound of a cartoon character. At that point, Coach Johnson urged me to see a doctor about the "little cold" I contracted. As it turned out, that "little cold" was a case of double pneumonia. The doctor told my parents that I need lots of rest and food, along with the medicine he prescribed. My season was over. Needless to say, I was disconsolate. But that changed abruptly when I learned the plight of a fellow wrestler by the name of Steve. My friend had developed a severe infection in his cauliflower ear. Despite his eagerness to finish up the season at the state tournament, his mother (demonstrating the same loving nature as mine), decreed his senior season was "kaput." I was only a sophomore at the time, with two more scholastic, competitive years ahead of me.
Though Steve may not have been favored to win a state championship, to be denied the opportunity had to be devastating as a senior. What could he have possibly learned from this unfortunate experience? Here are my thoughts.
I firmly believe that the greatest accolades in sports are not gauged by the ascent one achieves on the podium, but rather it is measured by a competitor's character to prevail when tested by the fires of adversity. Steve overcame this athletic setback, forged on, and is now a very successful in his chosen profession.
Wrestling, like life, is an incessant series of struggles. One expects the "struggle" to precede success. But such is not always the case, due to unforeseen "bad breaks."
Although loss in athletic contests can be disheartening, loss in life can oftentimes be calamitous. But it is the former that tempers and molds the character of a man or woman for the latter.
In sum, the positive and negative experiences found in athletics, prepares the dedicated competitor for the more serious ups and downs that one must face in life.
You, who compete now, please take heart to the above, and no matter what, you will always be winners!
The Assistant Referee
An assistant referee may be utilized during competition, usually during tournament action. He is allowed the same mobility around the mat as the match official.
Furthermore, the assistant referee may talk to the main official during the match, and assist the main official in making calls if the main official asks him for help.
The assistant official can also signal the technical violation of locked hands on the mat or the grasping of clothing.
Although all other calls must be made by the main official, the assistant official is allowed to make the main official aware of various infractions.
If there is a disagreement between the two, the main official will have the final say regarding the situation.
Note: Coaches are not to address the assistant referee during the course of a match.
Q: In the second period of the bout, the assistant referee warned Wrestler A for stalling. Immediately, Wrestler A's coach approached the scorer's table and argued that the assistant referee had no authority to make that call. Was he right or wrong?
A: The coach was correct. Only the main official of the match is allowed to designate stalling.
"You're never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you're never as bad as they say when you lose."
- Lou Holtz with John Heisler: The Fighting Spirit