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God never gives anyone everything
God never gives anyone everything

"Tell me something:  are those NFL players tough?"

That was the question that the great Pat Pecora, Carlton Haselrig’s collegiate coach asked him.

His answer:

Naw.  They’re not tough.  Those 125 lb college wrestlers - Those guys are Tough.

Carlton would know.  Haselrig, drafted in the 12th round of the 1989 draft, despite having not played football since high school (Pitt-Johnstown doesn't sponsor a football team), developed into an all-pro guard for the Steelers, following a stellar, record-shattering collegiate wrestling career at University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, where he won an unmatched 6 national championships – 3 in Division 2, and 3 in Division 1.

Before 1990, Division 2 and Division 3 champions were extended an invitation to compete in the Division 1 national championships.

Haselrig’s success led to the appropriately nicknamed Haselrig rule, which was enacted in 1990.  After he won both Division 2 and Division 1 titles- 3 seasons in a row – they changed the rule and rescinded the invitation to D2 and D3 champs.  Because of this, his feat can never be matched, unless they change the rule again.

After his collegiate career ended, he was drafted in the 12th round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.  

When it came time to find an agent, he asked his college coach, Pat Pecora, to represent him.

I need somebody I can trust, he told Pat.

So Pecora, now the winningest wrestling coach in NCAA history, obliged him.

Pat once said this about Carlton Haselrig:  God never gives anyone everything.

He was blessed with great athletic ability and work ethic, but cursed with substance abuse, which ultimately ended his football career and occasionally landed him in jail.

It was a sad ending to a brilliant career.

Carlton Haselrig died on July 22.  He was 52.

Pat Pecora is an old friend of mine.  Long ago, I worked his wrestling camps along with my friend and fellow coach, John.  I came to know some excellent people – wrestlers on the UPJ team, coaches from around the area, and some excellent Pennsylvania wrestlers.  It was an experience that positively shaped my coaching for years to come.

It was Pecora’s belief that every human being, no matter how great, has built-in strengths and weaknesses.  Certainly the sport of wrestling highlights this – nowhere is it more prevalent to wrestle to your strengths and exploit your opponent’s weaknesses.

It is also a fundamental key to finding success in one's life.

-Randy

someone’s always watching
someone’s always watching

Back when I was just a wee shaver, I was drawn to the school’s baseball team.  I wasn’t much of a player myself, but I got the opportunity to be a manager (I was actually the ball boy, don’t know why they called me a manager but I never questioned it).

My job was to chase down foul balls and return them to the umpire so the game moved along smoothly.

I was good at my job too – and it made an indelible impression on my tiny brain.  In fact, to this day, anytime a ball is fouled off I JUMP right away out of my seat (before sheepishly sitting back down amid the stares).

Old habits die hard.

One player made a strong impression on me.  His name was Johnny and he was the coolest, most hip player on the team. 

idolized Johnny.

Johnny took a liking to me, and paid extra attention to me – even created a signal – a flick of the wrist – that when he did it, I’d be compelled to repeat it – to the entertainment of his teammates.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I was, several years later, when I heard that Johnny had been arrested and spent 3 days in jail for drunk driving.

This was devastating news to me.

Through the years I’d run across him now and then – but I never felt the same about him.

Many years later I thought about my idol when someone confided that they had looked up to me when I was in high school. 

I had never given it a thought when I was competing, that you're a role model – whether you're a good one or a bad one is up to you.

Just like Johnny had never given a thought when he played baseball.

A wise mentor once told me:  No matter what you do, small eyes are watching you.  Make sure they see something they can look up to.

Randy

Ringing the Flavortown Bell
Ringing the Flavortown Bell

Recently someone started a petition to change the name of Columbus, Ohio, to Flavortown….

which led one of my wrestlers to suggest erecting a statue of Guy Fieri downtown.

Hence you scoff, this name change petition has now generated over 119,000 signatures.

As off the wall as all this sounds, imagine the possibilities, living in a place called Flavortown.

 The following tradition, tweaked for today’s times:

Fans attending Columbus Clippers games used to sing along to this song:  “Columbus Clippers ring your bell” and ring cowbells incessantly until people threw up.

Now?

Fans could ring a dinner bell instead.

Columbus was once known as a cow Town, hence the cowbells. 

Now?

“Steak Town.”


Even the beloved Buckeyes may have to make a change to their logo.  May I suggest the following:




Scrumptious.

If you’re hungry for training, and you don’t want to wait for statues to be built and towns renamed, go here for all the delicious details.

Then come back here to register while there’s still space (some groups have already reached capacity and are closed, so don’t delay if you want in).


Randy

The Forever Changing Landscape of Wrestling Training

For those of you who think this whole “virus” thing is going to eventually slink away into to the background and life and training will return to normal – think again.

That Normal is never happening again – instead to be replaced by a normal that looks strikingly different.

One thing that will happen though.

Wrestling training can and will improve, not decline.

More training where athletes get the personalized attention that they should have been getting all along.

Gone are the cattle herd trainings of the past – large camps that pack as many kids in as possible and provide the least possible value to the athletes in their care.

Case in point:

I remember back in the Olde day, attending a camp with my team.

And the instructor was one of  the top college coaches in the country.

That camp featured amazing technique, an entertaining instructor – and absolutely no retention whatsoever.

In fact, I still remember wrestling my buddy and rival in the camp, trying the brand new technique I'd just learned – and failing miserably.

The worst part wasn't the fact that I failed to score using a technique that I'd just learned.  That happens all the time in wrestling.  No, the worst part was, nobody took me aside and showed me what I did wrong, and why it didn't work.

So I did what any reasonably intelligent athlete would do….

I shoved the technique out of my head and never used it again.

Perhaps you’ve experienced it yourself, or seen it in your own athlete.  

If you've ever implored your athlete to drill what he just learned at camp, and came away less than impressed….

You knoweth of what I speaketh.

But that's what most have accepted as wrestling training in the past..

Just keep going back to camps.  Surely you will improve simply by spending time on the mats and wrestling with other kids.

But its a lot cheaper to go to an open mat and accomplish the same thing.

The key to making real progress though is in skill development.  

And there’s very little of that in the traditional camp setting.

Just too many kids and not enough personalized attention.

Now that the landscape has changed, it can change for you for the better.

In the very near future I will be opening up SuperGroup training.  Very personalized groups of 3 or 4 wrestlers.

You can make rapid gains due to the personalized training and instruction you are recceiving.

I am assembling the groups now by weight, age, and level.  Some of the groups are already assembled and those athletes will be contacted very soon -so if you want to be a part, now's your chance.

To learn more go here to the information page

Note, the only way to sign up is through the emails (hence, no link here or on the info page.  You have to be on the list).

Randy

Is Old Dominion just the tip of the iceberg?

A shocking betrayal.

Old Dominion, a long and storied collegiate wrestling tradition, just dropped its half-century old program.

The reasons given by ODU include financial challenges and Title IX compliance.   Athletic director, Wood Selig added this:  “Our decision became even more clear during this coronavirus crisis, which we know will have significant impact on future athletics budgets. This decision will better allow the remaining sports to compete at a national level.”

The bigger question:  is this a one-time setback to our sport, or is ODU just the tip of the iceberg?

It is entirely possible that many more wrestling programs will be shuttered in the very near future.

Taking a deeper look

Right now we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.

The most visible health expert in the country said this recently:

“I don’t think we should ever shake hands again.”

Ponder that for a moment.

The sport of wrestling is a sport of close combat, with athletes putting their hands on each other, breathing, coughing, and sneezing on each other throughout the match.

Our sport includes the highest level of physical, hand to hand contact in all of college, high school, and youth athletics.

If Dr. Fauci’s mindset becomes the future….

What chance do we have of surviving?

Right now the experts are talking about re-starting our economy, and opening things back up.

What’s that going to look like?

Here’s what its not going to look like…

Business as usual, just like January.

Expectations in a lot of circles are that things will change, now and in the future.

Some businesses will open back up.

Some activities will resume.

But there will be a New Normal.

And wrestling just might not fit in with that new normal.

We can’t return to normal until there’s a vaccine.

That consideration has been discussed at the highest levels of government.

A vaccine will likely take 12-18 months if we’re lucky.

Case in point, decades later, there’s still no vaccine for AIDS.

Compounding the problem

Every sport, even the revenue-generating football and basketball, will have a hard enough time getting back to competition in the wake of this world health crisis. There is enough close contact in those sports to keep the great Dr. Fauci tossing and turning in his bed at night.

But more likely than not, those sports WILL find their way back.  They will be deemed safe enough.  

If they don’t?

All this is for naught because no collegiate sports will exist.

Nor High School.  

Nor Youth.

But will wrestling resume?

Right now, I operate under the assumption that, at some point, restrictions will be lifted and sports will be allowed to continue.

But wrestling will be heavily scrutinized due to its high level of personal contact.

If nothing else, Political Correctness will wag its crooked finger in our direction.

We are not important enough, they will say.

Its too dangerous, they will say.

We should never shake hands or wrestle, Dr. Fauci might say.

What if, what if, I am wrong? (which I hope I am)

Let’s think positively and say we are granted permission to wrestle again.

What then?

When that happens, there will still be THIS enormous elephant in the room.

This crisis has hit colleges and universities extremely hard.

Revenues are cratering.

Many schools will likely not survive – and those that do, are already seeing budgets slashed to the bone and bottom lines drowning in red.

Schools rely heavily on endowments and deep pocketed donors – and those will shrink precipitously.

Many students will drop out, opting instead for budget-friendly online education (which they are getting right now, at a much higher cost).

Revenue will drop to a fraction of its current numbers.

Budget cuts will be deep and painful.

Entire departments will vanish.

The most profitable, essential programs will stay – the least essential ones will get slashed.

Sports is NOT essential.  Nursing school is.

The only programs that have even a remote chance of survival are the ones that are self funded.

Unlike football and men’s basketball, Wrestling is categorically a non-revenue sport.

Even Soccer isn’t safe.  University of Cincinnati just dropped their men’s soccer program due to budget concerns.

Combine budget landmines with the health concerns around our sport, in this new “we should never shake hands again” world we are living in.

What chance does a sport have that starts off with competitors shaking hands, and proceeds to get a lot more physical contact from there?

Will colleges and health directors look at our sport in a different light?

Will high school athletic associations?

Its likely they will.

 

Two steps to our sport’s survival.

Step One:  Eliminate the financial incentive to cutting wrestling

For any collegiate wrestling program to stand a chance of survival, it is imperative that it be self-funded – and then some.

If the number-crunchers see a program that is contributing to the bottom line – bringing real revenue that far out-strips its expenses – you’ve given yourself a fighting chance.  Here’s how you can accomplish that:

Have a minimum of 5 revenue streams, all contributing positively to a healthy bottom line, including, in some cases, lining the pockets of the university as well.

These 5 revenue streams could include:

  • A perennial endowment machine that funds the program for years into the future (and can’t be seized by the university).  Example in point, Penn State’s Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, worth upwards of $5 million – far more than any wrestling program in the nation.
  • Advertising (where allowed – check your local compliance office, I’m not an expert on such NCAA things):  Programs available for home meets with lineups, personal information, etc., including paid ads.  In this digital age, you could make a digital program and make it available on your team’s app (if you have one).
  • Summer Camps (most do this now) – a good chunk of money goes to the university, which keeps everyone happy.  
  • More traditional fundraisers such as working concessions at football games, hosting a tournament, inviting fans to be a part of your team club, where you can regularly market t-shirts, tickets to events, etc.
  • Home meets – admissions $, concession $, etc, but also a great place to cross-promote your app, your club, your camps, those home meet programs (digitally etc) or give them away and make money on the advertising.  If it were me, and I were concerned about printing costs, I would create a digital program every meet, and have scan codes posted on fliers throughout the venue so fans can purchase the programs instantly (or better, give them away for free and make money on selling advertising spots on the program).

If your school already does all of the above, that’s great.

Being self-funded is not enough to survive anymore though.  The next step is even more critical:

Our sport must get healthier immediately

Remember the pandemic?

Well, there’s only one narrow path out of this for wrestling, the sport that features more personal physical contact than any other.

If we are even allowed to continue (aka, Fauci doesn’t somehow become president)…

It is imperative that we rip the health risk out of our sport in every way possible.

The coronavirus mindset will last much longer than the virus’ threat.

And parents will ask, at every opportunity…is this sport safe for my child?

The answer, right now?

Not Safe Enough.

Here’s why:

Chapter 4 of my book, Wrestling in the Coronavirus World:  How to protect your kids now and in the future, outlines the Danger Zones of Wrestling that leave young athletes at risk.

Here are a few of these dangers, lifted directly from the book:

Large open mats

Ah, what fun can be had, with an enormous room full of wrestlers of all ages getting ready to strap it on and get after it.  I remember many an open mat I attended when I was but a yute in question.

But that was then and this is now – and times have changed.

Skin diseases weren’t nearly as prevalent.  Staff infections were rare.  MRSA was never mentioned.  And Covid-19 hadn’t been formulated in that Chinese factory (?) yet.

Now is the time to re-evaluate the large open mats, and take an in-depth look at the risks of these venues.

“I went to open mat, got the nasty funk and so did a bunch of my friends.”

This was sadly related to me recently by a kid who was forced to sit out of my training for a while.

Six questions come to mind and I already know the answer to most of them:

  1. Where there any skin checks? (no)
  2. Did anyone check the health of participants (check temperature for fevers, etc.)
  3. Were showers made available and encouraged?
  4. Were disinfectant wipes (such as Clorox wipes) available for wrestlers afterwards?
  5. Were the mats mopped before the event?
  6. Were people kept from walking on the mats in their street shoes?

There’s a checklist you can use to evaluate whether an open mat is a safe option for your wrestler.  

If the answer to any of the above is NO, then you take your chances by going there.

Large wrestling clubs that take in more than 20 athletes at a time.

The larger the numbers, the fewer the health protocols that are enforced.  Sheer numbers lead to sloppy practices, and many of these rooms are a literal cesspool of disease just waiting to be sprung upon your unsuspecting child.

Any trainings that do not perform skin checks and health screenings on a daily basis

Are starting times strictly adhered to?  Is there an expectation of arrival by a specific time?  Taking those steps allows a venue to build skin and health screenings into the routine.  If athletes have an expectation to arrive on time, then they can be ready to follow your built-in protocols that will protect all the participants from disease and illness.  If a venue doesn’t build skin checks into their routine, however, they are putting your athlete’s health at risk.  Do you want to take chances with your athlete’s health?

In a sense….Large training gatherings, and any wrestling experiences that do not include thorough skin checks and health screenings, should be a thing of the past.

Chapter 5 outlines Health Protocols to keep your wrestlers safe.  Every wrestling opportunity:  open tournament, training gym, wrestling practice, open mat – should be following these protocols if we want our athletes to remain safe and healthy.

If we do not implement these kinds of changes, and immediately…

Our sport is in serious danger of not returning in any meaningful way.

My book, Wrestling in the Coronavirus World:  How to protect your kids now and in the future, can be found here.

I wrote the book with the express intent of helping our sport survive this current crisis, and the next ones that are certain to follow.

The book includes:

  • Why I feel the wrestling world is doomed (unless we make immediate changes (Chapter 3)
  • Still swept under the rug:  the biggest non-virus threat facing our sport (Chapter 6)
  • Health protocols to keep your wrestlers safe (Chapter 5)
  • The Danger Zones of Wrestling (Chapter 4)

Its a quick read – and a roadmap to the future of our sport’s existence.



-Randy Simpson

Randy spanks evil empire like the naughty child it is

Just a short video, recorded right after my social distancing bike ride (staying at least 6 feet away from all other humans – except my wife, who was on the ride with me).  In it, I talk about the buzz-phrase for 2020, along with my continual fight with….well, I don’t want to ruin it for you.  Just check out the video (also – this one is password protected so be sure to get the password from the email).

If you are seeing this post, and you aren't on the list yet, go here to join,  and then email me.  I will provide you with the password so you can see the video.

to answer your question…
to answer your question…

Steve Jobs.
Bill Gates.
John Smith.
Cael Sanderson.

On the surface, these great men would not appear to have anything in common.

However,  a deeper look tells a different story.

Each of them was successful because they utilized the principles of FOCUS.
Follow
One
Course
Until
Successful

As a competitor, John Smith used one move – the low ankle single.  Everyone in the world knew he was going to do it.  Nobody could stop him.

Cael Sanderson was going to grab your head and ankle pick you.  Everyone in the world knew it.   Nobody could stop him.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did the same with business.  Focused on one course until successful.  Competitors often knew what they were going to do.  Nobody could stop them.

Which brings me to the point that will certainly rile up many people…

it starts with this question I recently was asked by a parent:  Do you accept walk-ins?

I know what you’re thinking, what does that question have to do with Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, John Smith and Cael Sanderson?

Hold yee horses as I explain.

Regarding the question posted above:   there is absolutely a place in my program for athletes to try out this training.  Everyone starts somewhere after all, and if you haven’t given it a try, how do you know if it is a fit?

Indeed, my program, my personality, my style,  is NOT a fit for everyone.  Not everyone is willing to take the short path to success either – actually most insist on taking the long way around.

And the system of training that I employ IS a system built to shorten one's learning curve, hence the short path instead of the scenic route.

Now for the part that will tick off the most people….

It doesn’t happen through the drop-in training mentality.

Example in point:

How will your high school sophomore learn geometry the fastest?  By being taught 4 different methods on 4 separate days?  Imagine how confusing that would be.

Instead, he will become proficient at geometry much more quickly by learning one system until successful. 

That’s your quickest path to learning geometry – as well as wrestling, programming, or any other meaningful skill.

So when another parent asked me about dropping in on training whenever it fit their schedule, I had to tell him, that’s not how we roll here.

(try-outs are offered from time to time – drop-ins whenever, are not).

My system of wrestling that I have developed over 30 plus years of training athletes, works best for athletes and parents who commit to training in this system and following my process. 

And I reward such commitment.  Hence, the higher level of commitment, the best rate.  Athletes who made the year-round commitment pay a fraction of those who go program to program.  And athletes who commit to a full month, or season, pay a fraction of what someone does who tries it out on a one-time basis (although you are given a chance to save significantly, right away, if you decide it is a fit and you want to stay).

The try-out period for in-season training is about over.  We are getting too late in the season.  But if you want to give it a try (this might be the last week to do so), and see if you are a fit, go here.  If you use your promo code (if you're new to the list, that is), you can get in for as little as $34.

Randy

PS.  Spring is right around the corner, and we focus completely on the olympic styles of freestyle and greco wrestling, because the gains athletes make from doing so, far surpass the gains made by athletes who only wrestle folk style in the spring.  The skills shown the very first night in fact, are so powerful, that you can use them to shut down 95% of all top position attacks.

You can try out spring training on Tuesday March 24 for the extremely low $10 (listed at $25 but use the promo code in emails – this offer won’t last long though).  The promo code is worth $15 savings on this try-out session.