Why “NOT” Wrestle

While reading Coach Bevilacqua’s article “WHY WRESTLE” it certainly got me to thinking. His understanding of wrestling is obvious, and he seems to have been involved with the sport forever. He points out many of the details that make the sport of wrestling in my option the greatest sport in the world. I will not go over all the reason Coach Bevilacqua gives because if you have read the article, you already know. If you haven’t, then go and do so.

Alexander Karelin
Alexander Karelin

While reading Coach Bevilacqua’s article “WHY WRESTLE” it certainly got me to thinking. His understanding of wrestling is obvious, and he seems to have been involved with the sport forever.  He points out many of the details that make the sport of wrestling in my option the greatest sport in the world. I will not go over all the reason Coach Bevilacqua gives because if you have read the article, you already know. If you haven’t, then go and do so.

What I will attempt to do here is to take a slightly different view of the king of all sports (does this surprise anyone?). The question to me has always been ‘Why NOT Wrestle?’ You see, EVERYBODY loves wrestling! Let me explain before you call me crazy.

As kids growing up everybody wrestled. I mean…who didn’t rough house with brothers and sister? Busting up the house till Mom breaks a wooden spoon on your behind.  Or you grapple with classmates in the school yard, play king of the hill on a pile of dirt, or a plain old “every man for themselves royal rumble.”  It’s all wrestling in, of course, a more primitive fashion, and who didn’t enjoy this at some point in there lives?

The sport of wrestling in some form or another is in every culture, and country that you can name, and many more I’m sure that you never heard of. What other sport can say this?  It dates as far back in human history as any sport.  Physically it is suited for every body type.  As coach Bevilacqua made clear, smaller kids can fill lighter weight classes, larger kids who may not be physical blessed to excel at other sports can turn themselves into fine wrestlers.

While writing this I think of wrestlers like Rulon Gardner of Olympic Greco Roman Gold fame. He did not look as physically intimidating as his Russian foe, multi-world and Olympic undefeated champion Alexander Karelin .  I am certain, though, that his years of hard work on the farm and in the wrestling room made him A LOT STRONGER then people realized.  He certainly in my option would be an example of turning himself into a fine wrestler, wouldn’t you say?

Kyle Maynard
Kyle Maynard

Maybe even a better and more unbelievable story is that of Kyle Maynard. This kid’s story is so unbelievable, that if you told me it, I would say you made it up! He was born a Congenital Amputee, HE HAS NO COMPLETE ARMS OR LEGS!  I can not fathom the metal toughness, desire, balls or whatever else you want to call it that this kid has!!! As he so clearly points out in his book, (which I give my highest recommendation to) “NO EXCUSES,” you can do whatever you put your mind to!

So WHY NOT WRESTLE? I have to tell you one of the excuses that I am most tired of.  Usually from some kid who plays Football (notice I did not say a Football Player) or maybe a coach who doesn’t know jack-squat about wrestling.  It goes something like this, “I don’t want to lose any weight (read fat) I have to lift and get bigger for Football next year.”

Let’s make this a clear as possible. 1) Next year comes and the big fat soft kid is still big, fat, and soft. 2) Usually the very best thing to do if you want to get better at Football is WRESTLE! Here on Long Island and many other places, I’m sure that there is very little to zero physical work that kids are exposed to daily. I know of no other way; or better way, for a young man to get a good 2 hours of hard work than in the wrestling room.

Besides being the best thing for the young athlete. The warm ups and wrestling drills, practicing and learning new moves helps build all types of skills and coordination.  This will have a direct carry over to other sports that you will see within one year. The conditioning can not be overstated! Besides the obvious benefits physically (remember our kids are the fattest and most out of shape in history) The mental challenges of  “pushing yourself” will help you in sports and in life.

This is not just my opinion.  I have talked with, played with, and read stories of  many who have played football, both in college and some professionally, that have credited their High School Wrestling days for having a part in their success. I remember reading a book that my coach gave to me.  The book was from 1965.  It was about wrestling.  One of the things that struck me, though, was Football Coaches from Syracuse University and the Coast Guard Academy talking about how they had there players wrestle in the OFF-season to improve.

Bear Bryant
Bear Bryant

If all this is not good enough for you, maybe Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant can convince you. Considered by many to be the best college football coach of ALL TIME, it is said that he would have his players wrestle in the off-season.  Even Joe “Willie” Namath is said to have wrestled while at Alabama.

Let’s go back and talk about the metal part of the sport. Again if you go and ask any football player who has played at a high level and also has wrestled. They will all tell you the same thing. It is a totally different emotional level walking out onto the mat alone, than walking onto a field with your teammates.

Doing this over and over again will teach you to better control your emotions. I can tell you from my own experiences playing in championship games in both football and lacrosse.  I was not the least bit nervous. I could see others getting somewhat “worked up”, which is perfectly normal I guess. It was almost abnormal how calm I felt.  I could concentrate and focus on the game plan completely. I feel it gave me a mental edge and it will do the same for you.

So for the school age athlete and coach, you want to be a better football player? You want a better football team? Join the wrestling team or for the coach, encourage your players to wrestle. I am sure you will be happy with the results. Coaches in others sports can also have their athletes reap the rewards wrestling offers by doing the same and recommend their kids wrestle too.

I have been recruiting kids to wrestle since my Junior High school days. I feel that I have had great success. The point I would like to make here is for wrestlers, coaches, and those involved with the sport, be active, and promote the sport!  I am up front with my approach I tell them this will be the hardest thing you are going to attempt in your lives to this point. It may also turn out to be the most rewarding. Why not give it a shot?

Now while I am obviously biased toward wrestling, I do find it hard to come up with many good excuses not to try it. Honestly, some may participate in other sports or activities that keep the kid active and that he or she enjoys. In the end I feel that this is what’s important. My father always says, “There is no reason to be home after school.” There are so many extra curricular activities for the students to choose. Some may even choose to take a job. The point in the end is not to be home sitting around at 3:00PM.

Find the things you enjoy doing. Then surround yourself with others who love it as much as you. Seek out the best people in the field and learn from them what you can.  Read books; watch video; attend clinics, shows, contests, and get involved as much as possible. Have fun with it!

6 thoughts on “Why “NOT” Wrestle”

  1. coach I was unaware that you played lacrosse and that your teams back in the day played in the championship games. Did you win any titles, LI,Nassau, NY state ?

  2. Razzler, No I didn’t play lacrosse, I was a “Lax Player” as my coach would have said. I think I mentioned somewhere that I played and coached the big 3(Football, Wrestling and Lax)? Anyway I was just talking about this with a few lacrosse players down at the gym. The teams I played on were very good. We had at least 2 All-Americans and must have sent at least a dozen or more on to play in college. One note- , back when I played there was no Leagues. There was only 1 Nassau county champion. At least this is the way I remember it. Anyway we lost in the finals my Jr year to Farmingdale and in the semis to Freeport both large schools. I am pretty certain that no small school in Nassau could have beat us. As for the rest of LI and NY, I am not sure. In HS Football There was also no play-off system like today. (which I think is one of the best things that happened for LI sports in a long time)Again I was a part of 2 very good teams 7-1 both my Jr.and Sr. years. We lost to Garden city and Rutgers Cup Champion New Hyde park my Sr. year. But when I wrote this I was Thinking about when I played LI Flag Football. I remember some guys that I hung out with from Farmingdale asking me to play. I thought, Yea this will be fun. MAN was I shocked! Bunch of nuts yelling and cursing. Many very good football player most who played in college. Anyway we won a few LI championships in the top division. Played 1 championship game at Giant Stadium pretty cool! Thanks for the question. Coach E

  3. I have a couple of articles in the works that I must get finished. One on the mental aspect of the sport, the other on the garbage going on in the weight training industry. I need to get my butt in gear look for them soon! Down at the gym I have a great group of kids. We are working hard. I am also working to add a full wrestling mat area. This would be a big bonus for wrestlers who join the gym. Hopefully we will be able to make it happen. Good luck to everyone in the New year! Coach Ellinger

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *