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La Estupida Temporada de Lucha Libre  
Op-Ed by Richard Rockwell of The OWF

The high school season has officially come to an end and what an end it was. We saw many ups and downs throughout the season that led us into the state championships last weekend at Memorial Coliseum in Portland. From bracket changes to sudden transfers to coaches undermining each other to actual shit coming from the ceiling of the warmup area, we dealt with it all this season, it seems. You may think my opinion doesn’t mean a thing and that’s fine, but I’m pulling a “its my website and I don’t care.”

In my 25th year of coaching from youth to middle school and high school, I am still amazed at the crap that goes on within our sport. As if youth parents weren’t crazy enough, it seems as though it has somehow infected the high school ranks and its disturbing. While I haven’t been around as long as some of the top coaches within the state, I’ve been around long enough to realize this is not the sport I grew to love. It used to be, show up for practice, work hard, step on the mat and see how good you really were. Let wrestlers decide the outcome. We didn’t worry about the refs or brackets or even the OSAA. We just competed and the outcome was the outcome.

Now we have to worry about seeding meetings, criteria, bracket sizes, who’s pulling strings, who’s undermining who, who knows better, who’s transferring where, sudden changes in qualifiers, last minute deals to benefit a select few, supposed friends becoming enemies and enemies becoming friends. WTF is going on in our sport?? I remember my grandmother watching telenovelas as a child and laughing at how dumb they really were. I feel as each year progresses, Oregon wrestling is its own telenovela, with its twists and turns. La Estupida Temporada de Lucha Libre would be its title and we are all its stars.

What happened to the days of all of us coaches, all working towards one common goal of building Oregon wrestling? We put egos aside because at the end it was all about making our kids the best they could be. We worked out together, traveled together, listened to what every other coach had to offer and made it work. Now we have many factions that seems to be all square pegging into a round hole and we are all losing because of it.

Do the days of working together even exist anymore? Have we become such an elitist minded sport that everyone is just out for themselves? As coaches, do we even care about working with all of our kids or just a select few now? What is even the direction of our state? Are we building towards a solid future or a temporary one? Do we no longer care about roaming the halls for those kids that may never be a state placer but need our sport in their lives? Or is it only about who can pound their chest the loudest, get the most awards, travel to the coolest places? Do we just burn every bridge now for what we claim is “for the kids” but really isn’t? All important questions we need to reflect on, including myself.

Have we forgotten why we are coaches in the first place? Ego aside, sit back and ask yourself “why do I coach?” And whatever your response is, do you actually believe it? Do your peers believe it? How about your family, your school, your club? Maybe the selfish nature of our society now has infected sports enough that we simply do not care about anything but ourselves.

At our state coaches meeting for example, you could cut the tension in the room with a knife due to all the issues we had this season. So much so I felt the focus of the meeting was to hurry up and get it over with, so no more issues were spoke about. A meeting that never got anywhere on important issues that in the end the coaches won’t be happy about because minds are already made up. We have too many of those sort of meetings now. Decisions being made not in the best interest of all but only a select few. How’s the quote go “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it.” That definitely applies today and most likely tomorrow and the next.

Now I hear rumors or split factions in our freestyle and greco season. Coaches doing one thing and others wanting to do another. This has been going on for several years now but it just seems to get worse every season. I look forward to the offseason because its where growth occurs for your wrestlers and as a coach. Instead, I dread attending events now because of the gradeschool drama. What happened to supporting each other? We are literally a sport that has to constantly work to prove itself or be dropped in a heartbeat yet now have to worry about possibly getting screwed over by our own. How fucked up is that?

Now I’m sure if you took the time to read this, you may take offense, you may be mad or simply may not care. But if we are actual friends, you’ll know that as friends, its okay to tell one another we are being fucking stupid and need to get our shit together. Why? Because that’s what friends are supposed to do. Right now, I want our state to get back to that because all our kids deserve better from us. 

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