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Old 01-01-2012
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From on the mat to in the chair - The Journey Continues

For Gail Rush and myself the last wrestling season has come and gone. Our sons have wrestled since they were little boys and as parents, we have followed the journey from the very first takedown, from kids through the high school level to the collegiate wars.

Clayton Rush and Mario Morgan were arguably the two best non DI wrestlers from Illinois in America entering the 2010-11 college season . It had been a long road to this point for them. This is their story.

There is so much that has gone on over the years that I thought it would be kind of cool if both Gail and myself reflected back, journaling in stages and posting them here for those that are still on the wrestling path to peruse. So periodically, we will add chapters until we get to that final match in March.


******

Just in case you have been hidden under a rock the last 15 or 20 years Clayton Rush, a former high school state (Aledo) champion and 2010 and 2011 2x college national champion is the dynamic 125-pound superstar for NCAA DIII Coe College (Iowa).

His mother Gail, a frequent poster at illinoismatmen.com can best be described as the ultimate wrestling Mom. So much so, that she was voted W.I.N. Magazine Fan of the Year by national wrestling writer Jason Bryant. Imagine for a moment how good of a fan you have to be to beat out all of the crazy wrestling fanatics in America. She has ridden the back roads of America taking her son to practice, clinics, meets and tournaments. And now the road is about to end.

Mario Morgan is the super quick 141-pound National Champion and 3x All American from Mt. Carmel high school and the NCAA DII 7x National Champions, Nebraska-Omaha. In addition, unless you are also under that same rock you know that he is my son and a former multiple time kids state champ from the Harvey Twisters.

Both entered their final national NCAA tournament, ranked number one in their respective weight classes as the favorite to win the title. Clayton and Mario wrestled to their seeds with Rush winning his second individual title and Morgan his first individual title but also his third team title.

When I started this column many years ago, I wanted to share our experiences in the wrestling world. I was not a wrestler and had no one to tell me how this all was suppose to go. Eventually I figured most of it out, through trail and error and even became nominated last year for Illinois Wrestling Reporter of the Year by Illinois Wrestling Officials and Coaches Association. While my sons, competitive college career has ended, I much like Gail have be torn with many, many emotions and flooded with even more memories. In a strange way we will gain closure through our journal of our experiences of the wrestling lifestyle.

EPILOG: Since we last left off last March both Clayton and Mario have graduated from college and are now college coaches, Rush at his alma mater Coe College and Mario at Maryville University (St. Louis, MO.) Below is the viewpoint that both Gail and myself see as the young men embark on this new journey titled college coach.

=========================================================
by Gail Rush

I was asked to write an article on the differences of watching my son wrestle as compared to watching him coach. The differences are huge, but I like them. The stress is gone. I guess I should say the stress is different. When thinking about not watching Clayton compete, I keep thinking about the book I had made for him when he graduated from high school. He is now THAT coach. He is the person every parent entrusts their child to. I hope he takes the time to read this book from time to time and realizes the responsibility he now has….. Here is my book, minus a few photos…titled “Dear Coach”

From my heart I bequeath to you today one little boy in a new singlet and shoes…with 2 wondering eyes, and a happy giggle that lasts all day long and a flash of blonde hair that gleams in the sun when he runs. I trust you will treat him well.



He’s slipping out of the wrestling room of my heart today and running off down the drive to his first day of school and wrestling practice with you. And never again will he be completely mine.



Standing tall and proud he’ll wave his young and determined hand this morning and say “good bye” and walk with little man steps to the school yard. Now he’ll learn to stand in lines…and wait for his name to be called when teams are picked. He’ll learn to tune his ears to the sound of referee whistles, and he’ll learn weight management, and he’ll roll around, and he’ll look away quickly when the little girl across the class looks his way.

And now he’ll learn to be jealous.

And now he’ll learn to win and lose.



And now he’ll learn how it feels to hurt inside.

And now he’ll learn how not to cry.



No longer will he have time to sit on the front porch steps on a hit summer day and watch a bug scurry across the crack on a hot summer sidewalk. Nor will he have time to lay in bed past dawn for it is up at dawn with all speed to the next wrestling tournament. No, now he’ll worry about important things.

Like grades, and which clothes look cool…and who he might have to beat for a place on the roster, and the magic of single leg takedowns and practice will replace the magic of bugs and puppies. And now, he’ll find new heroes. And now he’ll learn to share his worship with his coaches, which is only right, but no longer will I be the smartest person in the whole world.



Today when that school bell rings for the first time, he’ll learn what it means to be a member of a group, a team, with all its privileges. He’ll learn in time that practice makes perfect and it’s ok to laugh out loud. He’ll learn that he may not have time to kiss dogs noses, or keep frogs in pickle jars, or watch bugs scurry across cracks on hot summer sidewalks.



Today he’ll learn for the first time that all who smile at him are not his friend. And I’ll stand on the front porch and watch him start the long lonely journey to becoming a wrestler, a champion, a man.


And so Dear Coach…



From my heart I bequeath to you today one little boy in a new singlet and shoes…with 2 wondering eyes, and a happy giggle that lasts all day long and a flash of blonde hair that gleams in the sun when he runs. I trust you will treat him well.



==========================================================
by Andre' Morgan

It is not the same. Coaching is just plain different than competiting.

For our family watching young Mario coaching is different. The expectations for one is different. When a wrestler is competiting there is a sense of responsibility. You have a hand on winning or losing. You can actually do something about it. As a coach all you really can do is offer advice based on your knowledge and past experience. Watching Mario give advice and watching him coach can be like watching paint dry.

After 18 years of molding a wrestler as a parent everything suddenly changed. There is no more setting a clock for the wee hours so you don't miss the all important "weigh-in". No packing the cooler. No making sure the video camera is charged up. No more washing singlets and practice clothes. No more buying coaches cards for off season wrestling. Nothing left to do but to cheer for the entire team. Now that is not so bad but even that is different. You can cheer when you want because there is no longer a rush back from the concession stand to see your son wrestle. And it's not like you are going to rush bach to see your son in his Kahki pants and coaches polo. You get back when you get back.


Now when I ask Mario does he like coaching he always replies, "Yes." But that little hidden spark I don't hear. Never had to ask did he like competiting. Battling to get your hand raised is like a drug. You get use to it. Especially the elite ones because that is why they are elite. They win. We added up his career record the other day for the first time. From kids to college 556 and 92. That is 85% of the time he won. Now the new trick is to get that same level of victories out of a variety of wrestlers over a long period of time. If you win 85% of the time as a coach you will be in the Hall of Fame. But then again there is the problem that as a coach you can not hit the moves yourself. You can't prepare for the match in the same way you would as an athlete. You have to hope that your teachings all week will pay off.
Mario seems happy. He has his degree. He has his job in his field. He has his bracketboard. He has his championship ring. But... and there is always a but, I know he still wants to compete. And not just in the room getting wrestlers ready to compete either. That itch will never be fully scratced. Training for the 2016 Olympics begins this summer. But when you are just 24 there is plenty of time to do that. Right now though coaching is his new vocation and like everything else wrestling related he will master it.

It is different being in the chair and looking out at the other guy competiting. It takes time to adjust to that view.
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Last edited by MR TWISTER; 12-30-2012 at 03:03 AM.
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Old 01-02-2012
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Nice article, Andre. Love the rings!
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Old 01-04-2012
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What a great article - the pictures are the best! I will have to save it for the day when I no longer have a son on the mat, and maybe I will get one in the chair.
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