Mom & Dad: the heroes of wrestling

Updated: January 28, 2021

Photo: Randi (left) and Dwight Gliem coached and cheered on their son Oliver during a recent kids tournament in Iowa.

Note: The following story appeared in the Jan. 27 (Vol. 27, No. 3) issue of WIN Magazine. This is also an example of stories, games and photos — intended for parents and young wrestlers — that appear in the “Kid’s Corner” section of WIN Magazine. Click here or call 888-305-0606 to subscribe to WIN Magazine.

By Dr. William Welker, EdD

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Wrestlers! If you haven’t realized it yet, don’t ever forget the emotional plight of your parents.

It has been said many times that “Behind every successful man there stands a woman.” Let me take this one step “on-the-mat” further. “Behind every successful wrestler there stands totally-involved parents.”

Moms and dads are the unheralded stalwarts of the mat sport. For wrestling parents, there is no greater thrill than to see their son or daughter win by a fall. There is also a heartrending down side as they witness their child (sometimes with tears in his or her eyes), being pinned or losing an important match at the buzzer.

Because wrestling is such an extremely physical, one-on-one sport, parents tend to become quite stressed during competition, knowing their son or daughter must stand alone on the mat.

But a parent’s personal ordeal doesn’t end at the conclusion of their off-spring’s matches.

To compete successfully, a wrestler must be in top physical condition with very little excess body fat. And it is the responsibility of the parents to see to it that their child eats properly, keeping him or her away from “junk” foods; a duty that can be quite challenging at times.

Likewise, a lean wrestler is often a temperamental wrestler. Unfortunately, it is the parents who must live with his or her moodiness throughout the course of the season. But they do so with the understanding that their child is learning two extremely important character traits: self-discipline and self-reliance.

As a young wrestler, I never fully understood how much my parents sacrificed for my older brother, Floyd, and me during our competitive years on the mats.

Looking back, I now understand how stressful it was for them. In fact, I can remember the time my father fell off the bleachers — due to his gyrating movements to assist my brother, Floyd, when he was wrestling. Although Dad lost the battle with gravity, that didn’t matter because Floyd won his bout.

As for mom, she often had to leave the gym when Floyd and I wrestled because it was too hard on her nerves to watch us. And get this, my dad did not even come to witness my state championship match, not because he didn’t love or support me with all his heart — but because he couldn’t take the pressure any longer. He instructed mom to call him right after the match. Dad was pleased with the news.

If you — today’s wrestlers — still don’t comprehend what I am talking about, I can assure you that your parents know exactly where I’m coming from because they have experienced the same emotional feelings as my mom and dad. Like my parents, they, too, have often demonstrated the same “nerve-wracking” mannerisms while watching you compete on the mats.

In honor of their parental devotion, I wrote the poem on this page a number of years ago to salute these unsung “heroes” of the glistening mats.

So, young minions of the mats, listen to what I have said, and take a moment to thank God for the wonderful parents with whom you have been blessed. They are not only your chief mat supporters, but also your best friends in life.

(William Welker is an award-winning writer. Dr. Welker has published a national best-seller: The Wrestling Drill Book. Most recently, his novel, “A Wrestler’s Curse,” was declared the winner in the Sports and Personal Growth Categories by the Beverly Hills Book Awards Judges. A former Pennsylvania state champion, Welker is a member of five wrestling halls of fame, including the Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (West Virginia Chapter). He has been named twice as the National Wrestling Sportswriter of the Year by Wrestling USA Magazine. Dr. Welker’s wrestling books can be purchased on-line at n


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WIN Magazine is expanding our coverage of the youth and middle-school level. WIN welcomes both pictures of kids wrestling and story/column ideas you’d like to see in the Kid’s Corner section. We are trying to focus on elementary or middle-school wrestlers. WIN will work to both help provide heroes for kids and build positive reading habits.

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