April WIN Article #110 Wrestling Never Gets Old


Wrestling Never Gets Old!
By Ben Peterson

Late winter and early spring bring great culminations in the sport of wrestling. State and National tournaments are great places to build memories and watch others build them as well. And your network of friends at these events will keep growing the more you attend.

Young wrestlers come dreaming of making a mark to be remembered by. They want to prove and test their own skills. They each succeed to various degrees in that effort. To me no state or national qualifier or even attending wrestler is a loser. They all want to see and experience the intensity of the highest level and they each have worked to do so. The parents, fans, coaches and yes wrestlers that come to be a part of each qualifier's experience will take home a piece of the striving and in most cases go home wiser and more motivated.

My Wisconsin State Tournament experience is always motivating to me. I watch many wrestlers I know personally work to exhaustion. Some win and place, while others leave disappointed. I am always positive and complementary to them because they had to train and compete very hard and win a lot just to get there.

My NCAA D3 experiences with UW-Whitewater were not as positive as we hoped, but the adversities I saw those young men work through makes me proud to know them and anxious to keep helping them reach their dreams. The D3's were held in Hershey, PA this year. Years ago Mr. Milton Hershey wanted to make chocolate available to the poor and rich alike. We went to his factory and bought some. It reminded me of how often I see wrestling being available to all backgrounds. Wealth or lack of it has little to do with what we can accomplish in wrestling. All levels of wrestling show this to be true.

While in Hershey I spent a most enjoyable morning with Don and Barb Witman who my family has known for 40 plus years. They worked at the school and home for orphans that Milton Hersey started. Don was their wrestling coach for years. Their school and homes now provide for 2,000 needy youth of all ages.

The D1 Nationals in St. Louis was again a super intense display of wrestling. Match after match was exciting. All wrestling fans should try to get to it at least occasionally. 24 hours of the best college wrestlers watched by 18,000 people is crazy. I estimate half of them watch all 24 hours of it! Most of the others take in several sessions.

I add the WIN Memorabilia Show to my schedule in St Louis as well. That is 12 to 15 more hours of talking wrestling with wrestlers, parents, coaches and fans of all ages who stop by. Many of these I see each year. I met wrestling fans from over 30 states, and many who started their wrestling careers back in the 1950's. What a goldmine of wrestling knowledge and experience! Maybe some of you were ones who stopped by my table to talk and thank me for these articles! That is always a ton of fun for me to hear. Thank you!

The Wisconsin Youth State Tournament along with our Freestyle and Greco State finish off my spring tournaments. All these many events might seem to be overkill except that the intensity of the wrestlers as they each strive for victory in their own way and on their own level never gets old!

I cannot help but think of God watching each person He has made. Does He ever get tired of watching us? I think not. Does He ever get bored? He made us all different so the variety of our actions are endless. The only thing that would disappoint Him is similar to what disappoints us. I see coaches and parents hurt when their favorite wrestlers forget these three things: 1) Do their best, 2) Be thankful for each opportunity and 3) Learn from every mistake, lose and victory. These three points are so important because our next match in life is coming right up.

I am enjoying these season ending tournaments. I hope you found new friends and new memories at the ones you attended. And I pray you will work hard to be ready to enjoy next year even more.

Coach Keith Swett is a long time and very successful coach from Seymour Wisconsin. I expanded my friendship with Keith when he coached my son Andy for the Wisconsin Greco team that competed at Fargo. Coach Swett has coached that team many times. With his permission I include his email observations at the St Louis 2015 NCAA DI Nationals. It is worth reading.

On Mar 23, 2015, at 10:59 AM, Keith Swett
"Remember when grandpa said life was so tough that he had to walk to school and it was up hill both ways? Well this week in St. Louis Laura and I walked up hill to the wrestling, down hill to the river, up hill to the hotel. Yep, we really did walk up hill both ways. It was worth it.

On the hill we ran in to a wrestler about to compete for his fourth national title. He was on the street posing for pictures with a bunch of middle school kids. He had to be nervous but he waited patiently for each kid to get a picture and their parents to say thank you and wish him luck. When the kids were satisfied he ran up the hill to change clothes for the march of champions. Our best wrestlers take care of our beginners time after time. They remember having heroes.

I will never be closer to heaven than our seats in 304 row M numbers 1 and 2. The steps were almost ladder steep. A Michigan fan started the climb. All along the way people reached out to offer him a hand. He had two prosthetic legs and the crowd acted as a human chain helping him climb to the top. Wrestlers are used to kids with physical challenges and we treat them just like the rest of us. Oh by the way the wrestling was great. Ohio State won their first ever national team title. I obviously love wrestling but it is wrestlers who time and again make me proud. Think of that human chain. No one passed the word to help. No one offered more than was needed. Dignity mattered. It was an individual goal met with a team effort.

Think of the pressure of competing in front of 20,000 people in 30 minutes but still taking time to make a kid's day. I honestly do not know if wrestling makes good people or if good people choose to wrestle, but I am proud to be a part of this tightly knit small family."

See, I told you Coach Swett would be worth reading.
See you at the next wrestling event. Ben

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