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oldcougar

an embarrassing pin

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I've been around some pretty good coaches over the years. My brother wrestled for Gerry Lehman. I was a camp counselor for Sprig Gardner. My high school coach was one of the earlier coaching inductees in the PA wrestling hall of fame, Dick Shoemaker.

 

Dick was reffing a bout down in Delaware one weekend when I was in 10th grade. He asked if anyone wanted to go with him, and 4 of us gluttons for punishment volunteered. Wilmington HS was wrestling some suburban school and getting the crap kicked out of them.

 

By about 154 the score was like 45-0. Suddenly a Wilmington kid had one of the Mt Pleasant kids on his back. The Mt Pleasant kid began bridging and sliding, bridging and sliding all the way across the mat, with Dick sliding along on his knees looking for the pin.

 

They slid off of the mat and about 10 feet onto the gym floor when Dick called the pin. They were about 15 feet out of bounds. Two or three more slides and they would have been in the parking lot.

 

No one complained. The Wilmington coach was happy for the win, the Mt Pleasant coach figured, 'what the heck'. Dick didn't even realize what happened until the 4 of us hammered him on the way home for embarrassing the hell out of us.

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I want to share some stories about Simon (Si) Roberts. I met Si in 1974 or 5. He was a local celebrity in the Quad Cities (Iowa & Illinois) because he had a television show about racial diversity in the workplace. He was also a vice-president at Blackhawk (Junior) College and on the board of an organization in Rock Island, IL that offered educational opportunities for minorities. My ex-wife's cousin worked as a volunteer ESL teacher at the latter organization.

 

Just out of college, I was waiting tables at a decent restaurant in Davenport, IA when my ex-wife's cousin, Kathleen, came in with Si and his wife. Kathleen intoduced us and we met afterwards for drinks. Over the next few years we got to know Si fairly well and twice went with him to an "after hours" jazz club in Rock Island that was the hippest pace to be at 3:00 in the morning.

 

One of Kathleen's sons played football at Davenport Assumption, but was good friends with Si's son, Tony, who played at Davenport Central. Tony's senior year he was slated to be the "second" running back in an offense that ran the ball a lot. The "feature" back broke his leg in the first game of the season and Tony got most of the carries the rest of the year. He led the state in rushing and was first team class 4A all-state. The guy with the broken leg - future NFL star, Roger Craig.

 

One of the other stories about Si involves legendary Division III coach, Baron Bremner (coached at both Cornell College and Coe) and was told to me by Richard Small. Si and Baron were team mates at Iowa. The Hawkeyes were in Stillwater and went to a local restaurant where the waiter refused to bring Si a glass of water. Baron went back into the kitchen and "convinced" the waiter to bring Si his water.

 

Interestingly, when Si became the first African-American to win an Iowa High School championship and then the first to win an NCAA title, he beat the same guy - Ronnie Gray of Eagle Grove (IA) HS and Iowa State. Gray was a 3X Iowa HS champ and a 2X NCAA winner.

 

In all of the times I was around Si, he never talked about himself - always about the other great athletes he had known.

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They slid off of the mat and about 10 feet onto the gym floor when Dick called the pin. They were about 15 feet out of bounds. Two or three more slides and they would have been in the parking lot.

 

And he never reffed for FILA? What a waste of talent.

 

Back in 1988 I was on the Greco Junior World Team. I wrestled a Turk (who, of course, looked to be about 30). We locked up, and dropped our hips back, making a table. I didn't expect anything would happen there, except, perhaps, an arm spin.

 

So, he jumped under me with both feet, and souped me. Great lesson; I used that later on. I wound up on my back, in a high bridge. Really high. Shoulders nowhere near the mat. And I'm there for perhaps 20 seconds, trying to figure how I was going to get out of there... and, with no change of position, the ref calls the fall. I got up and looked at the ref, and his face clearly expressed a simple explanation: he was bored. If I wasn't going to get up any faster than that, I could just get off his mat.

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Back in 83 or 84 we knew nothing about Freestyle wrestling - hadn't even seen it except on TV during the Olympics. But after our youth season ended, a bunch of my kids wanted to keep on wrestling so we entered them into the freestyle system. After a couple of tourneys, I had half a dozen kids who had qualified for the Middle Atlantic Championships in Newark, DE.

 

And we didn't even now how to keep score! Seriously. I didn't feel the need to buy a rule book, so there we were.

 

My son was wrestling a NJ state high school champ in the semis and getting beat. They were just in the process of going out of bounds when my son threw one of those hot dog moves that kids do when they know there isn't any danger (and no chance to score either) just for the hell of it.

 

The NJ kid flew into the air and his feet hit the gym floor. His back was out of bounds by 3 or 4 feet. The referee signaled 5 points. My son looked at me as if to say 'this sport is crazy!'

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