Part 3: The Interview with Neil J. Alton
This is final part of the three part series of Lighthouse Wrestling’s interview Neil Alton a former Long Beach wrestler for Paul Gillespie and father of Dylan and Andrew Alton, two of the top High School wrestlers in the country.
Note, this article is divided into pages. Click the page number at the bottom to advance through all the pages.
LHW: Did the boys ever feel like they were missing out on family events- parties, nights out with there friends, etc? Did you leave the choice up to them to miss these events?
Mr. Alton: Yes all the time. My wife and I are a good mix like this. When they were young and I was pushing them too hard they would go to her and we would have a family meeting. She always helped to keep the balance. I could be a fanatic at times like many Fathers. But Donna, my wife, could go a month or more without talking about wrestling. The boys depended on Donna just as much as they depended on me to get better. Their sisters Rita and Raquel were also great when being involved. Many times one of the boys would not want to go on a run or head to the gym, but Rita, Raquel or their Mom would step up and go along with them to make it more fun when training. I have been very blessed with my wife and children. So we started to make sure there was at least a few times a year where they stayed off the mat for maybe a month at the most. However the choice was always theirs to make. One time I had struggled with Andrew not wanting to go to Eastern nationals as a kid. Donna would have had no problem letting him stay home. But his brother talked him into it and we made it on time. For the most part they have always wanted to compete at the national and state level. That time at eastern nationals Andrew was cutting hard for a child. He never cut weight again after that, until now this year he is going down and Dylan is moving up. One of them always had to lose a little, but that year in the end at eastern Nationals they both had a growth spurt that made it difficult for Andrew to lose the weight. As they got older I let them pick and choose their events. After Eighth grade they were done with Eastern Nationals and Ohio Tournament of Champions, this was their decision. When invited to the Canada Cup they dropped the National Duals and were eager to compete in Canada. So at first I pushed them to go everywhere and they enjoyed probably 95% of it. But as the years have gone by it became more balanced and today it is 100% their decision on all aspects other than what their High School coach wants them to do.
LHW: Have Dylan and Andrew ever ignored your coaching or got mad at you because you’re their Father? What advice would you give parents who are in a similar situation as yourself?
Mr. Alton: Of course they have, doesn’t everyone’s son or wrestler feel like that at one time or another? They still get like that sometimes. Once again their Mother had no problem stepping in and getting involved so it worked out.
I would say to get your son or daughter exposed to as many wrestlers and coaches as possible. You never know what they are going to remember or use the most. It keeps it interesting and they meet and make a lot of friends along the way. When they get mad at you, just listen to them. Also if they lose I found that if you tell them three positive things before you try to tell them what they did wrong it will work better. This came from Michael Dergarabedian, he said Steve Fraser uses this method. I figure if an Olympic coach does it then it should work. It opens the wrestler to listening because they like to hear what they did right first. Makes sense if you think about it. If you start out yelling and telling them what they did wrong, then eventually you will get tuned out.