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KID_GERIS

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  1. Running with Greatness As the gravel bruises the rubber soles of my sneakers and crunches beneath the quick rhythmic pounding of my small feet, I can feel the heat of the high-noon sun licking the top of my head, its warm breath making it through my thick dirty-blonde hair all the way down to my scalp. The air is fresh and clean, the sky so blue it’s almost white. Hills covered in well-manicured grass roll out away from the road we’re on as far as the eye can see. “All those hills kinda look like waves in the ocean, except green instead of blue, don’t you think?” I pant the words in quick labored breaths as my heartbeat keeps time with my strides. My dad smiles down at me from behind his glasses; his upper lip gets lost in his thick jet-black mustache as he grins and his forehead wrinkles under the mess of curly hair. “It reminds me of when we went camping at Happy Hills,” he says. I can barely talk over gasping for air, but he isn’t even winded yet. I nod and remember Happy Hills. The whole place looked like a rustic painting in an Amish family’s living room. My dad is right; this looks just like that countryside surrounding the campground. The gravel road we’re jogging along runs up and down through the hills, out into eternity as far as I can tell. The narrow greybrown lines cut through the green, snaking their way along the massive grass mounds for miles. I think of the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy’s yellow brick road. I suck down giant gulps of air and try my hardest to keep pace with my father. My face is a bubbling furnace now, and my clothes are soaked through with sweat. My T-shirt and sweatpants cling to me like a second skin. I can feel beads of perspiration raining down on my face and the back of my neck from the crown of my head. My dad, who is wearing his 1976 Olympic sweat suit, only glistens in the intense sunlight. His hair is barely damp around his hairline, where shoots of thick black hair sprout into careless loose curls that bounce as he bobs up and down with every step. I look up at him the way immigrants looked up to Lady Liberty upon arriving to Ellis Island; I feel the same pride and joy. He is a monument that will always symbolize something life-changing and vital to his family, and his country. The shame is that he has remained a hidden hero to the latter. Not to me though; I can feel the intensity and significance of my father every time I am near him. In my eyes, there is no one greater. I know that at this moment, I am running with greatness. I feel my lips fall to a frown when I think of what the world is missing out on having looked past that. I am only five, and I can hardly stand the penetrating satisfaction I feel as I run beside my father, a man who has never overstated anything about himself or his career, although he represented his country in the Olympic games not once, but three times. My pounding heart swells as I fall behind a bit and watch my father’s enormous legs, which are nearly as long as I am tall, pump up and down rhythmically, his massive feet pounding the small rocks they come crashing down on top of. I struggle to keep up with him. He has the legs of a giant, and I’ve not yet even grown into my own awkward feet. A surge of determination shoots through me, and my legs begin to work harder—my feet move faster. When I catch up with my father, I notice that he is no longer running with the ease he had exhibited when we set off. His breathing, which was slow and unstrained, has become labored; and his pace slowed. I take advantage of him finally losing steam and dart ahead without glancing back. My age is finally an advantage for me. My dad has strength and size, but I have stamina. I feel a burst of selfsatisfaction feed my muscles as I think about outrunning my dad, the Olympian. I’m winning now, I think as I rush past him with a grin. Caught up in the grandiosity of the moment, I don’t notice that he isn’t catching up. He isn’t even behind me anymore. There is only the sound of my own feet slapping the uneven road now; only the sound my own breathing fills the air around me. I am alone on the road. I stop running—stop congratulating myself for a job well-done—and slowly turn around to see where my dad is and why I can no longer hear his size 14 shoes grinding pebbles into the loose dirt of the road. When I see him, I nearly choke on my own heart. Tears mix with the sweat that pours down my face. “Dad?” I call out to him. “Dad, what’s wrong?” He is on one knee slumped over at the side of the gravel road, one hand on the ground, propping himself up. At first glance, he looks like the image of a stoic football player taking a knee. I see his other hand clutching his chest and immediately know that this is something much more ominous than that. “Dad!” I shout as I take off toward him. The closer I am, the harder the knot in my stomach feels. Just before I reach him, he collapses to the ground, like a felled giant in some ancient fable. He falls hard and doesn’t move once his body has crumpled to the earth. He suddenly seems so small. “Dad, get up! Please,” I shout as I grab hold of his arms and yank at him. My tiny hands clench only the smooth polyester of the Olympic sweat suit as I pull at my fallen father. My body aches as I tug hard against his 245-pound frame. The colossal Olympic wrestler is impossible for a five-year-old to move. His chest rises and falls, but barely. His face is pinched in pain. The laugh lines have vanished from the corner of his eyes and his forehead. His large square jaw is snapped tightly closed like a rusted trap, and his eyes are closed so hard that his eyelids have nearly disappeared into his deep sockets. I scoop my arms under his head, the only thing I can manage with my childish hands, and put it in my lap. We are miles from anything. The bucolic beauty of the open countryside has become a prison. My father is nearly lifeless in my lap, and I am helpless. Tears soak my face. My heart pounds again, but in a different way this time. Now it throbs not because of the strain of running, but because it has broken. I move my dad’s head from my lap to the ground so that I can lay my head down beside his. I stare at his twitching eyelids and say through my sobs, “Everything will be okay, Dad. I’m going to get us help.” Resting a hand on my father’s damp hair, I look around us. I feel the two of us begin to shrink in the vastness of the situation. There is nothing around us but hills and road—no homes, no cars, nothing. The roads are still in all directions from the lack of travel. We may as well be in the middle of the ocean in a canoe. I scoot my hands beneath my father’s body and cradle him once as much as I can. I fold the upper part of my body over his and wrap my arms around him. Squeezing his enormous chest, I close my eyes and whisper again, “Everything is going to be okay. I love you, Dad. Everything is okay.” When I opened my eyes, I saw my wife’s peaceful face just inches from my own. The soft glow of the moonlight bathed the room in a muted blue. I leaned in and kissed my wife’s cheek. When I put my head back down, I noticed that my pillowcase was damp. My throat felt parched and my body more exhausted than when I had lay down to sleep. I took a deep breath and tried to let the residual sorrow of the dream waft away into the chilly drafts of the cool summer night. I glanced at the alarm clock on my bedside table; it was two thirty in the morning. I lay for a moment to let my mind settle. I waited for that immense melancholia to dissipate. I wished for the memory of the dream to fade the way the smell of smoke and ash finally fades from an area after a devastating fire. After half an hour, I gave up. My thoughts were fixated on my dad, so I went down to our living room and found my father’s wrestling scrapbooks. As I opened the first of the battered books, the aged cardboard and adhesive pages covered in thin plastic smelled just like I imagine nostalgia would smell. The albums smelled like memories of times I never had of a man I adored more than any other. These scrapbooks told the story of a man in a way I never knew him. I knew Henricus Theodorus Geris, or Harry, as a loving father and a devoted husband. He never spoke much about his days as a wrestler and rarely talked about the three Olympics that he participated in. These articles, which I had never really taken the time to read thoroughly, told me a story I never heard from my dad, who was never caught up in his own accolades. He was gone now though; a heart attack took him down for good as he was unloading wrestling mats at an elementary school. I took peace knowing that he died doing what he loved most. He wasn’t there to answer my questions anymore, though, and I wanted to know more about my dad. I wanted to know Harry Geris fully, outside of the role he played to me as a doting father. Being a father myself, there was something that drew me to the narrative of my own dad. I pulled the scrapbooks from the cabinet in the living room one by one and stacked them on the leather ottoman. These books covered my father’s life from the time he started wrestling as a teen until he left the wrestling mat for good, at least in a competitive way. Once I had each of the scrapbooks down, I slid the stack off the leather ottoman into my arms and dropped them down beside my recliner. I opened the first book and began to read an article that was yellowed with age and worn thin from time. The color of the pages made me think of the teeth of a veteran smoker. The first article was dated 1967. It was from my dad’s junior year of high school, or grade 11 as they say where we are from in Canada. I would start at the beginning and keep going until I felt I finally knew my father outside the context of family man. I wanted to know him fully. I wanted to get to know my dad, not just as a father, but as a man and, most importantly, as an athlete and the protagonist of a hero’s tale. That would be my night’s quest. I had about four hours until the kids woke up to get to know my father all over again. It has been said by one of my dad’s coaches that the story of Harry Geris is no less magnificent than the legend of Rudy Ruettiger. My father was just, regrettably, unheard of; his own tale was yet to be recognized for the inspiration it truly was. Watching his coach speak, I could see how earnest he was as he lamented the absence of my dad’s chronicles through wrestling in the mainstream of both American and Canadian sports folklore. The thought was nice and made me proud of my dad, but it only grazed the surface of my consciousness at the time. After the dream, however, that thought consumed me. Was my dad’s life really a story of inspiration—a paramount narrative that belonged alongside so many others that were told and retold, used to exemplify what determination and heart were capable of? Was my dad’s story, as his old junior college wrestling coach had suggested, one that was too unique and rousing to go untold? With my stack of vinyl covered hardback albums and a silent summer night, I would find out. Now available on Amazon! http://www.amazon.co...ed in the maple Like This Quote MultiQuote Edit
  2. Running with Greatness As the gravel bruises the rubber soles of my sneakers and crunches beneath the quick rhythmic pounding of my small feet, I can feel the heat of the high-noon sun licking the top of my head, its warm breath making it through my thick dirty-blonde hair all the way down to my scalp. The air is fresh and clean, the sky so blue it’s almost white. Hills covered in well-manicured grass roll out away from the road we’re on as far as the eye can see. “All those hills kinda look like waves in the ocean, except green instead of blue, don’t you think?” I pant the words in quick labored breaths as my heartbeat keeps time with my strides. My dad smiles down at me from behind his glasses; his upper lip gets lost in his thick jet-black mustache as he grins and his forehead wrinkles under the mess of curly hair. “It reminds me of when we went camping at Happy Hills,” he says. I can barely talk over gasping for air, but he isn’t even winded yet. I nod and remember Happy Hills. The whole place looked like a rustic painting in an Amish family’s living room. My dad is right; this looks just like that countryside surrounding the campground. The gravel road we’re jogging along runs up and down through the hills, out into eternity as far as I can tell. The narrow greybrown lines cut through the green, snaking their way along the massive grass mounds for miles. I think of the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy’s yellow brick road. I suck down giant gulps of air and try my hardest to keep pace with my father. My face is a bubbling furnace now, and my clothes are soaked through with sweat. My T-shirt and sweatpants cling to me like a second skin. I can feel beads of perspiration raining down on my face and the back of my neck from the crown of my head. My dad, who is wearing his 1976 Olympic sweat suit, only glistens in the intense sunlight. His hair is barely damp around his hairline, where shoots of thick black hair sprout into careless loose curls that bounce as he bobs up and down with every step. I look up at him the way immigrants looked up to Lady Liberty upon arriving to Ellis Island; I feel the same pride and joy. He is a monument that will always symbolize something life-changing and vital to his family, and his country. The shame is that he has remained a hidden hero to the latter. Not to me though; I can feel the intensity and significance of my father every time I am near him. In my eyes, there is no one greater. I know that at this moment, I am running with greatness. I feel my lips fall to a frown when I think of what the world is missing out on having looked past that. I am only five, and I can hardly stand the penetrating satisfaction I feel as I run beside my father, a man who has never overstated anything about himself or his career, although he represented his country in the Olympic games not once, but three times. My pounding heart swells as I fall behind a bit and watch my father’s enormous legs, which are nearly as long as I am tall, pump up and down rhythmically, his massive feet pounding the small rocks they come crashing down on top of. I struggle to keep up with him. He has the legs of a giant, and I’ve not yet even grown into my own awkward feet. A surge of determination shoots through me, and my legs begin to work harder—my feet move faster. When I catch up with my father, I notice that he is no longer running with the ease he had exhibited when we set off. His breathing, which was slow and unstrained, has become labored; and his pace slowed. I take advantage of him finally losing steam and dart ahead without glancing back. My age is finally an advantage for me. My dad has strength and size, but I have stamina. I feel a burst of selfsatisfaction feed my muscles as I think about outrunning my dad, the Olympian. I’m winning now, I think as I rush past him with a grin. Caught up in the grandiosity of the moment, I don’t notice that he isn’t catching up. He isn’t even behind me anymore. There is only the sound of my own feet slapping the uneven road now; only the sound my own breathing fills the air around me. I am alone on the road. I stop running—stop congratulating myself for a job well-done—and slowly turn around to see where my dad is and why I can no longer hear his size 14 shoes grinding pebbles into the loose dirt of the road. When I see him, I nearly choke on my own heart. Tears mix with the sweat that pours down my face. “Dad?” I call out to him. “Dad, what’s wrong?” He is on one knee slumped over at the side of the gravel road, one hand on the ground, propping himself up. At first glance, he looks like the image of a stoic football player taking a knee. I see his other hand clutching his chest and immediately know that this is something much more ominous than that. “Dad!” I shout as I take off toward him. The closer I am, the harder the knot in my stomach feels. Just before I reach him, he collapses to the ground, like a felled giant in some ancient fable. He falls hard and doesn’t move once his body has crumpled to the earth. He suddenly seems so small. “Dad, get up! Please,” I shout as I grab hold of his arms and yank at him. My tiny hands clench only the smooth polyester of the Olympic sweat suit as I pull at my fallen father. My body aches as I tug hard against his 245-pound frame. The colossal Olympic wrestler is impossible for a five-year-old to move. His chest rises and falls, but barely. His face is pinched in pain. The laugh lines have vanished from the corner of his eyes and his forehead. His large square jaw is snapped tightly closed like a rusted trap, and his eyes are closed so hard that his eyelids have nearly disappeared into his deep sockets. I scoop my arms under his head, the only thing I can manage with my childish hands, and put it in my lap. We are miles from anything. The bucolic beauty of the open countryside has become a prison. My father is nearly lifeless in my lap, and I am helpless. Tears soak my face. My heart pounds again, but in a different way this time. Now it throbs not because of the strain of running, but because it has broken. I move my dad’s head from my lap to the ground so that I can lay my head down beside his. I stare at his twitching eyelids and say through my sobs, “Everything will be okay, Dad. I’m going to get us help.” Resting a hand on my father’s damp hair, I look around us. I feel the two of us begin to shrink in the vastness of the situation. There is nothing around us but hills and road—no homes, no cars, nothing. The roads are still in all directions from the lack of travel. We may as well be in the middle of the ocean in a canoe. I scoot my hands beneath my father’s body and cradle him once as much as I can. I fold the upper part of my body over his and wrap my arms around him. Squeezing his enormous chest, I close my eyes and whisper again, “Everything is going to be okay. I love you, Dad. Everything is okay.” When I opened my eyes, I saw my wife’s peaceful face just inches from my own. The soft glow of the moonlight bathed the room in a muted blue. I leaned in and kissed my wife’s cheek. When I put my head back down, I noticed that my pillowcase was damp. My throat felt parched and my body more exhausted than when I had lay down to sleep. I took a deep breath and tried to let the residual sorrow of the dream waft away into the chilly drafts of the cool summer night. I glanced at the alarm clock on my bedside table; it was two thirty in the morning. I lay for a moment to let my mind settle. I waited for that immense melancholia to dissipate. I wished for the memory of the dream to fade the way the smell of smoke and ash finally fades from an area after a devastating fire. After half an hour, I gave up. My thoughts were fixated on my dad, so I went down to our living room and found my father’s wrestling scrapbooks. As I opened the first of the battered books, the aged cardboard and adhesive pages covered in thin plastic smelled just like I imagine nostalgia would smell. The albums smelled like memories of times I never had of a man I adored more than any other. These scrapbooks told the story of a man in a way I never knew him. I knew Henricus Theodorus Geris, or Harry, as a loving father and a devoted husband. He never spoke much about his days as a wrestler and rarely talked about the three Olympics that he participated in. These articles, which I had never really taken the time to read thoroughly, told me a story I never heard from my dad, who was never caught up in his own accolades. He was gone now though; a heart attack took him down for good as he was unloading wrestling mats at an elementary school. I took peace knowing that he died doing what he loved most. He wasn’t there to answer my questions anymore, though, and I wanted to know more about my dad. I wanted to know Harry Geris fully, outside of the role he played to me as a doting father. Being a father myself, there was something that drew me to the narrative of my own dad. I pulled the scrapbooks from the cabinet in the living room one by one and stacked them on the leather ottoman. These books covered my father’s life from the time he started wrestling as a teen until he left the wrestling mat for good, at least in a competitive way. Once I had each of the scrapbooks down, I slid the stack off the leather ottoman into my arms and dropped them down beside my recliner. I opened the first book and began to read an article that was yellowed with age and worn thin from time. The color of the pages made me think of the teeth of a veteran smoker. The first article was dated 1967. It was from my dad’s junior year of high school, or grade 11 as they say where we are from in Canada. I would start at the beginning and keep going until I felt I finally knew my father outside the context of family man. I wanted to know him fully. I wanted to get to know my dad, not just as a father, but as a man and, most importantly, as an athlete and the protagonist of a hero’s tale. That would be my night’s quest. I had about four hours until the kids woke up to get to know my father all over again. It has been said by one of my dad’s coaches that the story of Harry Geris is no less magnificent than the legend of Rudy Ruettiger. My father was just, regrettably, unheard of; his own tale was yet to be recognized for the inspiration it truly was. Watching his coach speak, I could see how earnest he was as he lamented the absence of my dad’s chronicles through wrestling in the mainstream of both American and Canadian sports folklore. The thought was nice and made me proud of my dad, but it only grazed the surface of my consciousness at the time. After the dream, however, that thought consumed me. Was my dad’s life really a story of inspiration—a paramount narrative that belonged alongside so many others that were told and retold, used to exemplify what determination and heart were capable of? Was my dad’s story, as his old junior college wrestling coach had suggested, one that was too unique and rousing to go untold? With my stack of vinyl covered hardback albums and a silent summer night, I would find out. Now available on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Buried-Maple-Leaves-American-Wrestling/dp/1634490061/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1450720155&sr=8-1&keywords=buried+in+the+maple
  3. Buried in the Maple Leaves is an epic tale of overcoming life’s obstacles and pursuing your passion. It is a perfect example of why I love the sport of wrestling and the character it develops in all those it touches. Anyone, especially the wrestling community, will relate to Harry’s experiences through athletics and everyday life. I had the pleasure of meeting Harry Geris via his sons Jason and Shawn through competition in the sport we loved. I enjoyed learning about his journey through life and competition in this story. Thanks to his family for carrying on his legacy of athletic excellence and integrity. It’s an honor to call you friends and to have known your dad. Randy Couture, actor and star of the Expendables movie franchise, 6 time UFC Champion, member of USA wrestling national teams
  4. Buried in the Maple Leaves is an epic tale of overcoming life’s obstacles and pursuing your passion. It is a perfect example of why I love the sport of wrestling and the character it develops in all those it touches. Anyone, especially the wrestling community, will relate to Harry’s experiences through athletics and everyday life. I had the pleasure of meeting Harry Geris via his sons Jason and Shawn through competition in the sport we loved. I enjoyed learning about his journey through life and competition in this story. Thanks to his family for carrying on his legacy of athletic excellence and integrity. It’s an honor to call you friends and to have known your dad. Randy Couture, actor and star of the Expendables movie franchise, 6 time UFC Champion, member of USA wrestling national teams
  5. Buried in the Maple Leaves The Untold Story of North American Wrestling Legend Harry Geris by Shawn Geris Sports have offered us countless heroes to look up to. Olympians and professional athletes in particular from long ago to present day have made their marks on history and the people's consciousness in such a way that they have, in many cases, pushed us to think differently as a society. The pity is that so many unsung heroes slip through the cracks. Men and women who have stories of trial and triumph, heartache and jubilation, and who have conquered obstacles that few would dare to take on are lost, and the legends that they carry never come into the spotlight to inspire and encourage. Harry Geris is one of those unsung heroes. As a child, Harry Geris migrated with his family from the Netherlands to Canada. The young Geris struggled through school as he slowly learned a language that was foreign to him. In high school the gangly Geris that was a mess of lengthy arms and legs discovered wrestling, but he was hardly a natural. That did not stop him, however. Geris had found his passion, and from that point forward, he dedicated his life to it. From working extra hours at a grocery store to pay for gym memberships to hitchhiking across his country's border for wrestling try-outs to running away from home so he could go to college to wrestle, Harry Geris displayed a love and dedication for his sport like few ever have. More than that though, Geris had character. It was that character that shined throughout his journey, which carried a callow, naive Dutch boy who had never stepped foot on a wrestling mat to three Olympic games. It was not only that Geris became an Olympian that is so intriguing, but how he became an Olympian and the adventures he had along the way. This book walks you through an amazing, and amazingly humble, man's journey. Now available online through Tate Publishing: https://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-63449-006-1
  6. I just published a book on my father's adventures in wrestling. He was a 2x All American for Joliet Junior College and an All American at Oklahoma State University. He also wrestled at three Olympic Games 68, 72 and 76. There is a link to the book below: https://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-63449-006-1
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