January 26, 2005

The Value of Coaching

High school wrestling, as with any high school sport, has vastly different extremes of coaching competence. It's hard to see as a high school student since you only see your own coach up close, but it definitely shows up in college when athletes from different backgrounds all get together on the college team. Sometimes, even a very successful wrestler has trouble adjusting to college because he won a lot of matches on talent and athletic ability. Other guys like me had a good amount of talent and athletic ability, but not enough to win with, so we either lost to the great athletes or learned how to wrestle smarter and more precisely.

In light of this, I count myself fortunate that I received such excellent coaching as a high school student. Three people get a lot of the credit for this. First, Don Horning, two time NCAA Division I All-American for Kent State. He's responsible for way more Ohio state champions than any one man reasonably should be, and he taught me a lot about winning, and a lot of my wrestling style developed as a result of being with him. Second is Joe Boardwine, currently of the NHSCA. He came into the picture my senior year of high school fresh out of college himself. Wrestling with him all year and learning from his recent college experience helped me from then until I hung up my shoes two springs ago. Lastly, there was the guy who kept me seeing Don on Sundays my senior year and drove me all over Ohio to wrestle. That's my Dad.

I mention all of this to talk about how talent only takes you so far in college. Some go farther than others, but at the highest levels, everyone has talent, and everyone is athletic, so you have to be smart in order to win the match. I think I see some of this when I watch college wrestling now with a different perspepctive. I see guys with more talent than I had, but I know that I made fewer mistakes when I was at the same place in my competitive life. It's coaching (well, mostly, there's a mental aspect to it as well) that makes the difference, and there isn't enough of it to go around, unfortunately.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Andy! By the by, we worked with Don on Sundays during your Junior year and the summer before your senior year.

Andy said...

Ah yes, you're absolutely right. Sometimes it seems so long ago, and other times, I can still see myself sitting in the wrestling room with that 13 inch TV-VCR combo trying to explain why I did some stupid thing in the previous day's matches.