This weekend I concluded a heavy weekend of officiating. Driving 3 hours home tonight from a Big Ten Dual, the thought occurred to me about some of the wrestlers I saw this weekend, and how at times I wanted to stop the match and say “how can you wrestle without heart?” The next question is how it is possible for a Coach, to coach a kid who doesn’t have heart, let alone and how to teach him how to have fire in that heart. A fire that burns so intense and so bright that the mere thought of not winning is disgusting, foul and utterly repulsive. I saw kids this weekend quit. Quit because they had no fire in their heart, and the funny thing is that afterwards I heard and have heard people calling for this or that Coaches head. His head? Wait a minute!! Let’s look at this. A Coach should be able to give his kids the right tools needed to get the job done. So to make an analogy, fire with wrestling… to build a fire, there has to be a spark. To make a spark, there has to be a match, or something to ignite that fire. A Coach by drilling, teaching, etc gives each kid the materials to make this spark happen. To make a real fire, you need an ignition source. A Coach gives each kid the materials to make that ignition source, but in the end, that kid must physically strike that match in his own heart and make the spark happen. No coach can ignite it for him. Once that spark is lit, a fire develops. It is the coach’s job to continue to fuel that fire, but it is the athlete’s job to turn up that fire and turn a mere spark into a fire, and a fire into a blazing inferno. Does a Coach have the ability to douse a spark in a kid? Sure he does. But a kid must learn from the very start that he is wrestling for his own satisfaction, not someone else’s. It is only then I believe that the driving force behind a kid’s internal thermostat lies within himself. Wrestling is a great sport. One in which any wrestler, at any time, has the ability to over come all odds, and even with the scarcity of time, can accomplish miracles, both small and large. When push comes to shove, when miracles do occur on a mat, it will always be from a kid who has that fire of desire burning deep in his soul. Without the fire, there is only mediocrity, and that I believe is a shame.
Author: Frederick Feeney Copyright 2003
“Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.” -Vince Lombardi
With 25 years’ experience, Fred is a respected wrestling referee at both the high school and college levels. He is a member of the CDWOA, NWOA and is the President and Founder of the MSWOA. Fred also was a FILA official until he retired from FS/GR in 2007. He is a certified OHSAA wrestling instructor and has taught 2 classes a year for the past 15 years. He is a moderator on several popular wrestling discussion forums, and has written numerous papers and articles on the mechanics of officiating as well as the personal inside stories as to what officiating is really about. 5 states have invited Fred to present his insightful mechanics presentation, “Are You a Duck?” to their wrestling officials. Fred’s in-depth experience encompasses both scholastic and collegiate levels, having worked the prestigious NWCA National Duals, The Midlands, The Cliff Keene Las Vegas Tournament, plus many top level D1 dual matches. Fred works primarily the Big Ten Conference, along with M.A.C., O.A.C., and G.L.I.A.C. matches. His post season work has included 10 OHSAA State Wrestling Tournaments, the Senior Nationals, several NAIA Nationals, 14 NCAA Division III Championships and 4 NCAA II Championship finals.
Fred and his wife reside in Dublin, Ohio