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Old 12-08-2010
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Motivation or Pressure...It Takes a Village

Clayton Rush (Coe College) and Mario Morgan (Nebraska-Omaha) are argubably the two best non DI wrestlers from Illinois in America entering this college season. Both are legit title contenders, Rush a returning individual National Champion and Morgan a back to back team National Champion and returning individual finalist. It has been a long road to this point for these college All Americans. The 2011 NCAA Championships will be their final season. This is their story of how it all began. In this next chapter (9) each wrestler identifies who motivated or influenced their career.

Motivation or Pressure… by Gail Rush

Rick and I could tell at a very young age that Clayton was a natural athlete. He gravitated towards anything that had to do with sports. And he was almost always good at it. After going to wrestling tournaments for a few years and seeing all kinds of kids and all kinds of parents and all kinds of kid/parent interactions, we decided the best way to motivate Clayton was to expose him to “influences“. We chose motivation over pressure. Don’t get me wrong, Clayton was and still is a very self-motivated person, but we didn’t want to be the ones telling him what his goals should be, we wanted him to put them in place all by himself. So, we exposed him to people, places, and things that we thought would help that process along. Most everywhere we went, we had a silent agenda. We had no idea what we were in for.

I think Bub’s first influential person was before he was even born. As I said in an earlier chapter, my brother, Bruce, was a wrestler. He graduated in 1979 and his junior year in high school his good friend and team mate, Karl, was the first state qualifier to ever come from Aledo. The following year, Bruce’s senior year, he qualified for the trip to Champaign. And, of course, his older sister by one year was there to watch him. Up until his senior year, I was at every meet and tournament. Wrestling was not only in his blood, but in mine as well. Bruce rarely missed one of Clayton’s high school tournaments and now goes to as many tournaments as he can. He, his wife, Ann, Rick, and I are leaving this Thursday to drive to Colorado to watch the Kohawks wrestle. If you’ve read all these chapters you’ve seen his photos. His are the really good football ones and the ones of Bub’s match with McDonough. He is an awesome photographer, brother, and uncle. So there it started, honestly, back in 1979.

My oldest son, Jayson, wrestled for years, even before Aledo had an IKWF club, or any club as far as that goes. He is 8 years older than Clayton. And as I’ve said before, Clayton watched. Jayson was and is an amazing technician. He didn’t have the win/loss success Clayton has seen, but he has had his own successes. He was a varsity letterman 4 years, is now married with 2 children. He is an amazing husband and father and in my opinion, responsible for the majority of Clayton’s success . He was the core that got him started. Through Jayson’s wrestling at the youth level, Clayton was exposed to many people who would later become role models and friends. One of those was Steve Amy.

Steve Amy. Rick Amy. Rockridge. Aledo’s biggest rival. And we were their friends. Steve was a very talented wrestler. His offence was amazing. He could seriously take anybody down at will using a number of different moves. And at this time he was only probably in 4th or 5th grade. As I’ve said before, I’m doing this off memory so some of this may be off a little (bare with me, Stevie, I’m old!) I can remember being at tournaments and saying to Steve, “Pin this kid in a ‘whatever move’ “ and he would do it. He pinned at request. And he was so fast. Since Clayton had to rely on takedowns to win matches (he was always the smallest and the youngest) who better to teach him than Steve. I remember when IKWF state was at the Mark in Moline. We took Clayton to watch the finals. Of course, Steve was in them and was walking the Walk. This was one of those “influential” moments. The lights went down, the music started, the IKWF Grand March had begun. And somebody Bubba knew was in it. Steve Amy. Clayton’s first goal was created. He wanted to do that. No…he WAS going to do that. He competed with Steve, or tried to, with a number of things throughout his IKWF and high school wrestling…season takedowns - Steve won that one, career takedowns - Steve won that one, State Titles - Steve won that one. Steve won most of them, I guess, but Bubba trekked on. I don’t know if Steve ever knew Clayton “competed” with him, but it made him a better wrestler and just being around Steve, Rick, and the entire Amy family made him a better person. Kay actually taught me how to drain ears. Clayton was thrilled - not! Clayton watched Steve win 3 IHSA state titles. Amazing kid from an amazing family. Steve called here once when Clayton was gong through the college recruiting process. He was an assistant coach at Lincoln Junior College. He said to me, “Why wouldn’t Clayton want to wrestle for me? He is me.” Not much I could say to that. Clayton had evolved into a smaller version of Steve and I had no complaints.

When Jayson was a freshman in high school, there was this little, ornery, scrawny kid named Kevin Clawson on the wrestling team. He is called “Chiggy” by those who know him well. He was a senior and was Aledo’s 103 pounder. Jayson was also a 103 pounder, but wrestled wherever Chiggy didn’t. We had known the “Clawson boys” for years. Jason Clawson, Chig’s older brother had been a state qualifier and placed 3rd at the IHSA State Finals, and is now the assistant coach at our high school. Chig was our first State Champ. We were in the Assembly Hall that night in 1995 along with all the other Aledo faithful. Clayton was only 6 years old and naturally, Clayton was with us. We again watched the lights go down, the Olympic Theme start to play and the IHSA Grand March had begun. Clayton then watched as Chig made history. Aledo’s First state champ. ..ever. Clayton got to go down on the floor with Chig, in Champaign, at the state finals. They played. They rolled around. And there you have it. Another goal was set in place. “I’m doing this.” That was all Clayton said.

Part 2 of “Pressure or Motivation” will be next. Stay tuned…

It Takes a Village …By Andre’ Morgan

It is funny how people come into your life or your kids’ life. Some are there for only a moment and others for many moments or even for eternity. I was talking to Gail Rush and she got me to thinking about people that have influenced my son’s career. However, as I thought about it I wondered if who I thought influenced him would be whom he thought, so I asked him to name five. I asked him to place them in order and to be honest, not one of them surprised me.

The person that influenced his wrestling career the most is Harvey Twisters Head Coach Quintroy Harrell. The first year on the Twisters Mario did not have a lot of contact with coach Quint (as he is know to his wrestlers). He tends to coach the older Novices and Seniors. Being new on the team, I was just kind of observing how everything operated. Finally, about mid way through I ask Coach Quint when would he start coaching Mario personally. He told me that it would be awhile. He didn’t want to be too strict on him and possibly drive him away from the sport. I wasn’t worried about that but that was his policy so who am I to try to change it.

That first year I remember Coach Quint coaching only one of his matches. Nevertheless, once he took Mario under his wing Mario really took to him like a duck to water. Eventually he became a student of the sport much like his coach. Coach is very much an X’s and O’s type of guy. I myself have learned a lot from him about wrestling. We have had many film study sessions over his house on Sundays. He knows more wrestling than a lot of people have forgotten.

However, Coach Quint is so much more with his boys. From going fishing to playing video games together, he is really like a father figure. Once Mario got to UNO one of the question’s he was asked was for the team media guide, Who is the Most Influencial Person in your career. I was not surprised when I saw the words Quintroy Harrell. A lot of people asked me if I was hurt or jealous. I steadfastly replied NO!

In the end, Mario said it best when I asked him, “Coach Quint was like a second father, he gave me guidance when ever I needed it. He was more than a wrestling coach, more like a life coach.”

Next on the list of influential people would be Will Franklin. I detailed a lot about Will in the last chapter. Will is a personal trainer and was the one that got Mario "up to size" for high school. He would push Mario and push him again. It is so important that when an athlete is introduced to weights that it is done so with some one with proper knowledge. Will was that one, He was the one that first planted the seed that Mario could be a wrestler. On top of all of that Will is an excellent motivator. He has created several motivational videos and could get Mario to do almost anything. “Will gave me motivation and drive to never give up”, said Mario when I asked him. “He always made me believe I could do one more.”

I dropped in at number three. I just tried to be there for him. When all the coaches are gone, I had to be there. When the tough loss came or the bad injury I was the one that had to say the right thing. When the victories came I was the one that funded the celebration party. Above all I consider myself his mental coach. Mario is very deep mentally and it was up to me to keep him focused. He and I are very close and at times can finish each other’s sentences. I took it upon myself to handle the little things so he could focus on wrestling. He and I cut a deal early on that I would worry about stuff like scheduling, transportation, nutrition, etc. and he would focus on being the best he could be. Mario says I can be a nag at times and maybe I can. I just don’t give up or let him either. The world is full of quitters so who needs another one. “Mario said, “My Dad was there through everything, even when nagging he still cared enough to say he loved me and that I am the best.”

Coming in at number, four was Coach Mike Denny, Mario’s coach at Nebraska-Omaha. He is truly an exceptional man. As he begins his 31st season at UNO we feel fortunate to have Mario under his guidance. I will go more into him in future chapters.

Let’s just say for now as he was recruiting my son I was recruiting him. I could not find anyone in America to say anything bad about him. God knows I tried. I was looking for a coach that could be a respected father figure to my son. I found just that in Coach Denny. As Mario so aptly put it, “Coach Denny believed in me and gave me the opportunity to soon be a college graduate.” With so much negativity surrounding his high school career as far as winning state it was important to find a coach that was willing to believe that Mario could get the job done. It did not matter to us if it was DI or DII, just a coach that had confidence in him as a wrestler. The Hall of Famer from Omaha was that coach.

Finally, the last influential person in Mario’s wrestling career was the late Stevie Williams. I also detailed his role with Mario in the previous chapter. Suffice it to say that they bonded from day one. Stevie liked Mario as a person and saw something hidden inside of him that he thought he could bring out. Only a champion like Stevie could see that hidden desire to be good. I thank Stevie for the short time (three years) he spent working with Mario. In each of those seasons, Mario was on top of the podium at seasons end. Mario says, “Stevie was the best wrestler I have ever known, he gave me the drive and made me believe I was the baddest man on the planet.” In order to be it you have to believe it first. Stevie was a great motivator.

All of these men influenced Mario in some way and helped mold him into a better person. The good wrester just happened to be part of the deal.

NEXT; Freshman year – High School
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Last edited by MR TWISTER; 12-09-2010 at 02:10 AM.
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Old 12-09-2010
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When the Amy kids were young, they used to come to our little kids tournaments. Rick wasn't there, but his wife would bring them. They would sit in the stands all quiet, she would knit or read or something, and the boys would then go out, and just destroy every opponent. They would get done, go sit back with their mom, and wait to do it again in their next match. My dad, who ran the tourney's, still talks about them.
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