I don't mind watching a football, baseball or basketball game. A tennis match is good occasionally. And cycling? How'd I get drawn into that? Hmm...
Even though I had sports shoved down my throat growing up (apparently tall = talent...whatever), I enjoy athletics in moderation. One sport I could never get into was wrestling. We'd have basketball practice in high school, and the guys would be running through the gym, up and down the stairs all afternoon, dressed in their sweats. I bet we didn't do half as much running during a scrimmage, and we got to eat regularly. That must have sucked for them.
Three years ago, I was running the college newspaper, and my former technology and society professor came to me with a story idea. He was reviving wrestling at Wayne State. Coach is a wrestling alumnus of WSC. The successful program was unfortunately cut in the 70s. Beginning a club that would not be supported by the athletic depatment would prove to be a strugle, but he rounded up a good group of guys with a little help from our stories, photos and advertising.
From that point, I was coach's go-to media contact, having control of the newspaper and a strong influence as an intern in the college's media office. We've gone from posters and ads to trifold brochures for high school coaches and newsletters for Wildcat wrestling alumni and other strong supporters. I couldn't believe the result. People stepped up and donated new mats; money for lodging, travel and tournaments; and other necessities to give a young program encouragment to make a statement. Otherwise, expenses come out of the students' pockets (on top of already paying for college).
This is now year three, and I'm compiling another newsletter to recap a successful year two when several athletes made it to the national tournament in Virginia and the team finished with an impressive ranking. Coach provided this year's needs, schedule and random thoughts written in his signature blue ink on yellow legal paper. He's always ready to fire out another piece to the people but super patient and supportive of my schedule and need to think of a design plan. "Your brainstorm is always better than my brain drizzle. Keep me posted and send me the bill," he says.
This year I'm hoping to make it to the home meet to take photos of the Cats on the mat, which will probably be awkward for me. But if it gives these guys some recognition and a chance to shine in college athletics, I'll overlook the uncomfortable grabbing and rolling around and the creeper-ish feeling I get while photographing it.
Here's to singlets and sweaty guys hugging each other. *Cheers!*