Wrestlers Make Great Leaders

Since being asked to go to my first Wheeling Wrestling (WV) practice in elementary school, I have been active in some manner in the wrestling community ever since. However, my doctorate program cranking up forced me to step aside from the high school program where I was serving as an assistant coach. As the season begun, I found myself reading statistics and recaps of dual meets online of local wrestlers and back in the Ohio Valley area where I grew up.

It’s hard to walk away from anything you have a true passion and love for in life. Despite my withdraw from the sport, my wife reminded me of all the young men who I had the opportunity to impact over the years. Yes, I’ll admit some have gone their separate ways, and I have lost track of many over the years. However, I know working with them on the mat gave me an opportunity to talk to them about life and decision making in their own lives. Many of them are working through college, joining the armed services, and starting their own family.

  • Sam Charles –Sam came to the United States at a young age from Haiti, which was under great turmoil. At wrestling tournaments, he would share with me how he might not go to school for weeks because men were walking around his village with machetes. He went onto Salisbury University and was a part of the University’s national championship rugby team.
    Sam is on the far left placing sixth in the Maryland State Wrestling Tournament.

    Sam is on the far left placing sixth in the Maryland State Wrestling Tournament.

  • Mitchel Friede –Mitchel was a young man who was rough around the edges, but had a great heart. His mother always shared the story how he was a miracle baby as he was born premature and constantly glorifies the Ruby Memorial Hospital (WV) staff for him making it out of the hospital. He finished high school and went to the Ohio Fire Academy  and was active in his local volunteer fire department; this past month Mitchel decided to serve this great country and join the military. He is currently in boot camp.22

Mitchel wrestling in the OVAC tournament (2011).


Mitchel with his mother prior to leaving for boot camp (2013).

Josh Smith — Even though he only wrestled for my middle school team, Josh and I built a great relationship as he was also on my football team. A young man strong in his Christian beliefs, Josh finished his first semester at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa last month.

Josh is center in the back row (2007).

Josh is center in the back row (2007).


Josh graduating high school (2013).


About briancookeducator

Husband, Daddy, teacher, #Mountaineer, coach, and aspiring school leader | Thoughts are my own.
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