West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on a Unique Assistant Coach

In this column, I would like to talk to you about a former assistant coach of mine who I have known for over 25 years. My good friend was a fine scholastic wrestler for old Triadelphia High School during the late 1960s. And he would have been a state champ had it not been for an untimely knee injury his senior year. But he possessed a unique characteristic which very few people are fitted with--the desire to excel in his lifelong endeavors.

I first met him at the Wheeling YMCA while I was coaching the Wheeling High "Wildcat" wrestling team. We began talking about wrestling after practice that day and I was impressed with his enthusiasm and knowledge of the sport. And with the drive found in all great competitors, we ultimately want at it on the mat. Following a half hour of intense wrestling, with neither one of us procuring a takedown, mutual respect was gained between us, and I asked him to be my volunteer assistant. He immediately said, "Yes!"

In all my coaching career, I never encountered an assistant coach with more intensity and more willingness to learn than he had. During those days, we were working with boys who were quite "streetwise," and we often had to search for a few of them when they skipped practice.

When we caught up to them, we then spent another hour and a half working out (after practice) with these prodigal sons. It paid off. Oh, none of them became great wrestlers, but everyone of those boys are now fine men and many are college graduates. Those were the most challenging, but best, coaching years for my friend and me. We learned a lot from our wrestlers, and I also learned a lot from my assistant. Furthermore, upon meeting his loving mother and father, I realized where my friend acquired his desire to succeed and zest for perfection.

The rest of his spectacular career as a coach is now a part West Virginia Wrestling history. A four-time state coach of the year winner who produced 4 state championship teams in six years, my former assistant's name is COACH ERIC CARDER!

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