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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Wrestled In High School, But I was Not A Wrestler

I Wrestled In High School, But I was Not A Wrestler

 Part I: Making Weight

In high school, I wrestled.  I was on the team, I wrestled, but I wasn’t a wrestler.  I was on the team because the football coach was also the wrestling coach and he told me to be on the team.   I hated wrestling, but it did give me some good stories.

See: “Bridge Tommy Bridge”

Not great stories, but good ones, and here is another.

As I said, I wrestled but I was not a wrestler.  Wrestlers are a different breed.  They are Spartans.  They live to train and work and sacrifice and win with all their heart and soul.  I did most of those things, but my heart was never in it.

In my junior year I wrestled on the JV team, not Varsity.  I weighed all of 174 pounds, but because we had a better 177 pound wrestler than I and we had no heavy weight, I often wrestled at the heavy weight class.

The day before one match, the coach came up to me and told me to lose seven pounds, “I want you to wrestle 167 varsity tomorrow, Earle Vigne is sick.”

I practiced that day with extra sweats to shed water and make weight.  I worked extra after practice.  At home I skipped dinner.  Some water, a carrot and some celery was dinner.  The next morning I had orange juice for breakfast and skipped lunch.  Instead of a study hall, I hit the gym for an hour before we had to weigh in for that afternoons match.  I sweated some more, and spit in a towel till I could spit no more.  I weighed in at exactly 167 pounds.  I lost seven pounds, mostly water, in one day!  That kind of weight loss was not unusual in the sport.  Some wrestlers did it for every match.  I wrestled, I was not a wrestler.

I made weight, but I had no strength.  Weak and wrestling for Varsity for the first time, I figured I would lose.  My job was to not get pinned and thus save the team a couple of points.

Twenty minutes before the match the coach came up to me.  “Vigne is feeling better; you’re back to JV…heavyweight."

Damn, I lost seven pounds, was weak as hell, and now I had to wrestle heavy weight!

When a match begins, each team marches in and takes a seat in the order of their weight class.  You can look across the mat and see who your opponent is.  My opponent was a brick.  Six foot 225 to my five-ten 170.  He was a tiny head, with two tree stump legs all attached to a chest…a giant barrel chest…the biggest chest I’d ever seen.  The coach came down the line to my chair and with a big smile said, “See your man?  Good luck!”  He laughed and went back to the varsity bench.

Tomorrow Part II: The Chest


  1. i would have KILLED that coach - as soon as i had the strength...

  2. I'm fairly certain wrestling coaches are all sadists.

  3. Since you're here posting, apparently you lived!! What else happened?

  4. I CAN NOT function without food - even in my teens! I'm surprised you didn't pass out.

    Too bad we don't have the video of that match. lol

  5. My son wrestled... I hated the whole lose weight/gain weight thing. He was a crabby little SOB until wrestling season was over... Can't wait to see part II

  6. You remind me of a get-even story I once wrote about my high school coach. It was terrible what yours did to you.

  7. I've never understood wrestling. In fact fighting while trying to obey a bunch of rules seems to defeat the purpose of a fight.

  8. The description of Barrel Chest made me think of that movie Vision Quest, when Matthew Modine drops weight to wrestle Shute, an opponent who trains by running stadium stairs with a freakin' LOG on his shoulders.

  9. Oy vey! Your coach was a sadist.

    One of our sons wrestled, and I HATED when he was going through one of those insane quick weight loss routines. Wasn't too fond of the New Years Day I had to have him at the school for practice at 7 AM either.

  10. I'm with Leenie....what's the point to a "fair" fight? Waiting.... ;)


  11. I have some pics of you wrestling Chris in the snow when you were 10 years old. I would have never have guessed you would become a wrestler later on!