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I received this email today from Daniel Elliott, the Head Coach of Gardner-Webb University.  As a lifelong wrestler, GWU Alum and friend of Cortney's this really hit home.  I figured I'd pass it along as I thought some on this forum may be interested in reading it.  Really makes you thankful for the blessings in everyday life that each of us may take for granted. 


Perspective.  This is something that hit me hard yesterday.  We as a team just came off from a terrible weekend result wise.  Which followed by a not so great performance from the week before. After starting with a couple of strong performances, we seemed to backslide a bit.  We have some guys banged up and out of the lineup, and just didn’t seem to be same page as a group during our last two outings.

Perspective.  We have to keep things in perspective right?  We are a young team. We have some starters out with injuries.  We wrestled 3 top 25 teams last weekend.  It is early in the season and we aren’t where we need to be.  All these are reasons, or excuses really, on why we didn’t perform to our best this past weekend.  If we want to come up an excuse on why we got beat like we did, we can point to any excuse and maybe feel better about ourselves. 

But this isn’t really the perspective that hit me yesterday.  During Wednesday’s practice, I received a quick message from one of my former coaches, Scott Shipman, about a post he saw on Facebook.  I quickly looked a bit more into it and discovered that a former teammate and athlete that I coached suffered a stroke Tuesday morning.  Cortney Roberts, a 2009 graduate of Gardner-Webb; a teammate for 1 year; and an athlete I coached for 3 years suffered a stroke at the age of 27.  While he is in stable condition and they doctors are currently working on the best possible way to remove a blood clot, the news puts things in perspective.  A father of a two year old isn’t supposed to suffer a stroke while changing a diaper.  A 27-year-old assistant wrestling coach at the University of Mount Union isn’t supposed to be told he can never wrestle again after suffering a stroke.  It’s just not supposed to happen, plain and simple.

While it hits close to my heart because Cortney is a former teammate and a member of my direct wrestling family from college, this incident also provides a great learning point that we can stress to our current team.  After hearing the news during practice yesterday, I was able to share the news with the team and issue a challenge that is hard to get across to young college athletes.  Get everything out of all that you do, every single day.  Get everything out of each practice, each class, each relationship you have with your friends and family.  It sounds so cliché, but you never know when something, or someone you know, will be taken away from you so don’t look back with regrets.

This is a lesson I try to push on our athletes in their training and competition.  Don’t hold back in practice; don’t hold back in a match. Don’t let outside influences distract you from getting everything out of the task at hand.  It’s not about winning a match. It’s not about losing a match. It’s about pouring every bit of effort, every once of energy into getting better and improving in what you are doing.  On paper, we weren’t supposed to beat Virginia or Virginia Tech.  Could we have wrestled harder? Could we have given more fight? Could we have trained a bit harder leading up to the day? Could we have eliminated distractions better?  Could we have fully submerged ourselves into the task that day?  These are the questions that we can control the answers to. 

It’s not about winning and losing.  It’s about allowing yourself to commit fully at all times without taking anything for granted.  There will be a time where wrestling is over for all of us. I am lucky enough to still be involved in the sport I love.  I apply the lessons I learned as an athlete to my coaching duties daily.  I can only work to teach, and hope; that my athletes can learn some of the same lessons I learned and take those lessons to life when wrestling is over for them. Cortney was told yesterday that he may never wrestle with his athletes every again, a hard pill to swallow for a coach.  We can’t take for granted the opportunities that the man upstairs has gifted us, and I hope that I can instill that lesson in my athletes if I do nothing else.  Our prayers and thoughts go our to Cortney Roberts and his family.  Thank you for listening and reading along as I put my random thoughts on paper, and the continued support that you give us.  God Bless.

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