Monday, March 26, 2007

Fargo, Wrestling Forums, Friends, Roller Coasters

Well, for those that haven’t noticed, I have been absent for a couple of weeks. I normally take 3 weeks in July to enjoy myself, relax, and spend some time with my son and wife, well actually more time with my wife than my son.

Week One: My wife and I during this time, focus on our family more than anything. My son normally trains at the Olympic Training Center, (OTC) in Colorado Springs. This year was different. Nathan and a good friend of ours Romero Cotton went to the OTC together. I didn’t initally know what we were going to do because our car was having trouble and the last thing I needed was additional expenses. Then my beautiful, intelligent daughter, Marathana had this great idea. “Check out the train.” We did and with gas prices hovering around $3 a gallon, and a round trip cost of around $300 just in gas versus $174 total cost for the train ride it was an easy decision. We sent Nate and Romero on the train.

I missed an opportunity to share at one of the local churches and getting to meet face to face one of the members of The Virtual Pew, Kelly, but there are times when you have to look at the finances. So, Mary Jane and I turned down the opportunity of going to Colorado Springs. I was all up for it, but Nathan and Romero enjoyed the train ride so much they wanted to come back on it, even after good friend I enjoyed the time alone with my wife at home, a lot going on there, including her finding out she has to go in for outpatient surgery on Friday of this week. She will have a biopsy done on some polyps to see if they are cancerous and it is one of those things we are a little nervous about. It seems as if God has put all kinds of people with cancer in our paths over the last few years. I don’t know if something is going on there or we are just getting older and it is a disease that affects people our age. I don’t believe that is the case because many of those we have come into contact with are younger. Anyhow, keep us in your prayers there.

Week two: Nate returns home on the train. We pick him and Romero up at 3:00 AM, yep that is AM, not PM. We get home around 4:00 AM, he goes to bed, I can’t sleep, and Romero’s dad picks up Romero early in the morning. Great time to see Nate with one exception; he leaves for McPherson Kansas to a camp for the Kansas Juniors and Cadet Wrestlers who are participating in the National Greco and Freestyle Championships in Fargo North Dakota the following week. We take him around noon, and the rest is something I have written about already; something about a flat tire on a 109 degree day in Kansas.

We don’t talk to Nate much that week. My wife and I enjoy some of the quite time, though we are recognizing we don’t look forward to the empty nest we will have in a few years. We hate not seeing, talking to, or being with our daughter. Our son provides some relief but it is still not the same. Bottom line, we realize more and more that in a few years, we are going to be at home alone. Something we don’t like thinking about. Yea, sure, some say it is like starting over and living a new life. I guess we just love our kids and their company so much we don’t even want to comprehend what that life will be like when they are both gone.

Week three: Off to Fargo North Dakota. We have a couple of good friends from our former church that has a relative living in Fargo. We don’t know them, are kind of nervous, but anxious for the opportunity to stay with her during the week. We figure what we will save on motels we can get to know this new person.

We drive all night to save toil on the car since it is so hot, and arrive just in time to see our son make weight for the wrestling tournament. He decided to go 98 pounds, a serious cut. I saw him on the Friday before leaving McPherson, and he didn’t look to good. I was concerned, made some calls for a couple of favors. Between calling his Junior National Coach, friends, TC Dantzler, World Team Member, and good friend, Real Pro Wrestler, Eric Akin they provide so much help and advice that after speaking with Nathan, and knowing they were going to call him on a daily basis, I start to feel better. I see Nate after weigh in, and he tells me he wants to go 98 for both styles. What that means is he can’t let his weight get over 100 pounds for the 4 weigh ins he has to be involved in over the week. Bottom line, he maintains weight and wrestlers very well.

I know some will have no understanding, but my kids will tell you I am pretty hard on them, in other words, they say, and have said I could brag on them more. I will answer questions when asked and I am honest in those answers. Some have construed those answers as bragging, I say, get real, if you don’t want to know answers to the questions you ask then don’t ask the question. My son, not just my opinion but from many others who have seen him, is an exceptional wrestler. When I hear great compliments from people like Eric Akin, Leo Bailey, TC Dantzler, Spencer Mango, and others who have won National Championships or wrestled for their country, I respect their opinion. It is amazing how many don’t give our son respect for what he has accomplished. An example is that on most ranking services he started out the season ranked in the top 10. He had one loss against a kid he shouldn’t have and in many of those services he went from being ranked as high as 3 to not being ranked at all. He had something he wanted to prove at Fargo. Initially he wanted to win the Greco National Championships and finish in the top 5 in Freestyle.

The tournament started off great. Nathan went undefeated in Greco, only having 3 points the whole tournament scored against him. He ended up become the 2006 98 pound National Greco Champion and was feeling strong. He wrestled a Fargo boy in the National Finals which meant additional newspaper coverage, with a front page story and news coverage on every television station for several days of the tournament. We knew our son was getting some of the recognition for the things he had earned. Things were looking good. He had a free day and then weigh-in for the Freestyle tournament.

Everything started off as planned for the freestyle tournament. The only thing we saw was three other very tough wrestlers on the same side of the bracket. He had defeated everyone on the other side of the bracket, never losing to any of the wrestlers, not even in a close match. There was one wrestler on his side of the bracket that he had lost to; Jon Morrison from Illinois a great wrestler and former Triple Crown winner. Nate had a little size on him and knew he was going to be the toughest wrestler in the competition.

The match between Nathan and Jon was very defensive, if anything, Nate was too defensive and Jon in my opinion actually wrestled a smarter match. If you don’t know the Freestyle wrestling rules it is too complicated to explain, but in a tie situation at the end of a period, you have to win 2 out of 3 periods to win a match, you have what is called a clinch situation. The first person to score a point wins the clinch, and if a person doesn’t score in 30 seconds, the person who did not start the overtime with a clinch, (the person who was clinched) wins the period. The first period in the match with Jon went to the clinch with Jon getting the clinch. Jon takes Nathan down, gets exposure, and wins the first period. Second period Nathan gator rolls Jon to earn the only 2 points so it is now 1 period to 1 period. Third period is like the first two, very defensive. Then that terrible thing I hate to see, a tie, which means, a third clinch. We are nervous, but Nathan wins the coin toss and low and behold he has the opportunity to win the match. Almost everyone who wins the clinch wins the period and for us this meant a likely chance to see Nate get into the finals. Something is wrong though, the official begins to caution Nathan. After some discussion, Nathan goes to the clinch, makes the throw, we are excited, but then, standing next to Nate is the official in the center of the mat giving Nathan a caution and a point to the other kid. Nathan’s coaches go ballistic. Bottom line, Jon ends up winning the period on a call that the Director of Olympic Development saw and said was a horrible call, in fact he said Nathan executed the clinch perfectly and the way the Olympic team teaches it. Other officials see the call and can’t believe it as do many others involved with wrestling at a high level. Were we disappointed? You bet! Not against Jon, he is a great kid and a great wrestler but to have an official make a bad call that likely determined the finalist was hard to see. Nate went on and wrestled 2 more matches, winning both of them, finishing 3rd in the Freestyle National Tournament and the only Kansas Junior to All-American in Freestyle.

Yep it was an emotional week. A tough ride home, especially since we drove all night. I did have good things happen in Fargo. Got to officially meet Danielle Hobeika for the first time, she has done my web site, The Virtual Pew and will be doing my personal web site. I also got to see Jason Bryant of Intermat Wrestling again. Then there was the lady who took us in and kept us for the week, what a blessing and a long lost friend.

This wonderful woman we had never met is a widow lady who has a nice home about 2 miles from the Fargo Dome. We were blessed because she has a downstairs, like an apartment we stayed in, better than any motel. Not only that, she had a legitimate gift of hospitality. We didn’t ask for it, didn’t expect it, but this lady made breakfast, packed lunch, and made supper for us each day there. I can’t say how much God used the generosity of this lady to help us financially. She made it clear, any time in Fargo; we had better not plan to stay at a motel. How God can use people!

There was another wonderful experience in Fargo. I used to coach soccer for North Henderson High School in North Carolina. Prior to getting my CDL drivers license, the wrestling coach, Norm Osteen drove the bus. Over the first season, Norm and I became pretty good friends. He was actually the one who encouraged us to get our son involved in wrestling. Of course we didn’t do it at the time, but when Norm found out we were moving to Oklahoma, he insisted. We didn’t think much of it until 2 years later when a neighbor in Oklahoma encouraged us to get Nathan into wrestling. We remembered the encouragement and comments from Norm and decided to get Nate started in the sport. The rest they say is history.

Now what does this have to do with anything? While at Fargo we are sitting watching the action when I see a man coaching a North Carolina kid. After the match I yell atone of the coaches, the one I was wanting to know about had left the mat. The other coach tells me the other coach was Norm Osteen. Now mind you I haven’t seen Norm in over 10 years. I ask the coach to have him come back, he tracks him down, and Norm and I get to talk for the first time in a number of years. I get to tell him about Nathan and of how I have shared about what he, Norm, did for me over the years. We rekindle a long lost friendship, and with tears in my eyes later in the tournament, I tell Norm how God used wrestling to open up doors of ministry. You see Norm is a Christian and his wrestling club is called Strong and Courageous. What a great week to rekindle a long lost friendship.

Getting Home: Things are going okay, pretty disappointed after watching, and watching the video of the bad call against my son. Truth is a lot is going on. I am thinking about the call, I am thinking about my wife having to have surgery this week, no one knows as she hasn’t even told my son until the return from Fargo. I am thinking about my mother who is going to be visiting next week. You have to read my book to have any understanding of what that is like. Bottom line is for a lot of very good reasons, I have never gotten along with my mom. Some are critical of that, but I would say, live in my shoes, go through the various types of abuse I did, and then let that person into your house. Things aren’t always what they seem.

I get home, check out an internet message board I belonged to, Wrestling Talk and see where I have gone from a positive feedback rating to a minus 40 something. Someone tells me that I received approximately 60+ smites in approximately 72 hours. I also see where someone is critical of my son’s championship, comparing him to another great kid, nonetheless though, putting down my son. With everything that is going on, I have a tough time with the things said, and the actions taken even if meant as a joke. And all of this within a community that I have tried to give so much to over the years. Some say grow up! Others say quit being a baby! And there is more, truth is though, that none of these people realize the hurt, pain, confusion and mixed emotions that is going on in my life. I didn’t realize it at the time but I realize later on what is going on in my life right now.

I have had to overcome difficulties in my life, at times with professional counseling. My life was that difficult, again, read the book. I later realized on Tuesday morning, I have been short, emotional, the whole bit, for a lot of reasons affecting my subconscious. That is not to excuse my feelings, but, neither am I quick to place all blame on myself. I still hold to my concerns of people having fun by making others look bad, but that didn’t explain my feelings. The feelings, even after a roller coaster week like mine, can be explained if you think about it, again, don’t mean they are excused, neither does it mean they should be condemned. It just means they are what they are. Coming to understand why is of importance in dealing with some things. One can’t always understand the hurt, but in those situations one has to focus on the good and put the bad behind them. That is what I have tried to do lately. Don’t mean things are easy, don’t mean I will like everything, but I know I am moving forward. I also know if I can do it, so can you.

Yea a lot going on; today I meet with a young man going into college that has begun to have some self doubt about his abilities and is thinking of not going to college. He has a short time before school starts. He has been offered a full-ride to play football. He is a great young man but I know I can have an effect on another human being, that is something I learned a long time ago. Then there is the individual I met through the wrestling forums who is dying with cancer. They have requested to not let anyone know they may only have 2 months or so likely left. I feel a tremendous burden to pray for them. I know the closure time with friends would be positive, but I also know it is important to respect their wishes that they just be normal for what time they have left. The wrestling forum is a place where they can do that. Yep, it’s easy to criticize, put down, knock and ridicule another human being. Too bad we don’t know what it is like to walk in their shoes, or to live in their experiences.

I guess bottom line is that the church, Christians, friends should be about more than all of the above. I have gone through that roller coaster, but it is friends that are important. It is relationships, love and understanding that God wants us to try and perfect. Am I there yet? Heck no! I do know that I am still on the journey. I am still on the path. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it is scary, and sometimes it is a blast. What will it be for any of us, even those reading this? Heck I don’t know, wish I did, but truth is I don’t. What I do know is that I care. I thrive and value at those who think enough of me to ask advice, ask for a prayer, ask for a hug, and ask for friendship. Need a friend? I do to.

Love you all.


Job 42:10, 11 (Amplified)

(10) And the Lord turned the captivity of Job and restored his fortunes, when he prayed for his friends; also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

(11) Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; and they sympathized with him and comforted him over all the [distressing] calamities that the Lord had brought upon him. Every man also gave him a piece of money, and every man an earring of gold.

To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, To learn more about me visit I am also active on MySpace at: I have another blog at To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching. You can contact me via email at or For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.

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