Taking it from the mat to the gridiron

Published 7:43 am Friday, March 8, 2019

My grandson, Logan, has been talking a lot lately of learning how to wrestle and also is showing a desire to participate in football.
When my son asked me if I knew of somewhere that taught wrestling, my mind quickly shot to touching base with Coach Eddie Morrell at Elizabethton High School, and sure enough, we were lucky enough to find out about a youth class taught at the high school on Tuesday evenings.
I contacted my son, Michael, and told him the good news and after talking with Logan the plan was set in action.
Now, my grandson thinks of wrestling along the lines of WWE and that style of entertainment and my son tried to tell him going into that wrestling took a look of hard work and commitment as it was not the same as what one might see on television.
Needless to say, that as my wife and I sat with our granddaughter, Zoey, at Chick-Fil-A waiting for the two to return after the initial visit to the class, our grandson appeared and it didn’t take but a smile to tell that he was hooked.
In thinking about how football and wrestling are different in a lot of ways, the two actually go hand-in-hand as neither sport infringes on the other as far as seasons go and also those who actually participate in both may even get a leg up on other athletes.
If I were a football coach, I probably would highly encourage my team to get involved with high school wrestling as the sport in itself requires a lot of discipline, staying in shape as to maintain wrestling weight, and teaches lessons in how to become a better tackler if on the defensive side of the ball.
Case in point would be Jonathan ‘Deuce’ Morton of Elizabethton who came from the 2019 Tennessee state tournament as a champion in Class A-AA 195 just recently.
Morton not only was a beast on the mat for Elizabethton maintaining the state’s top ranking all season but was more than a handful on the football field.
The Cyclone sophomore pointed out that what he does on the mat has a defining impact on what he brings to the football field.
“Just learning all the different ways to take down people helps in football,” stated Morton about how the two sports intertwine. “You get in a weird position in football, and those hips come in and those wrestling skills come and allow you to get a tackle that you may not make.
“And that mentally tough part of being able to push through because in wrestling that third period comes and you have to go even harder or quit, so that helps in football as well.”
With that type of commendation, it makes no sense why even schools that don’t have wrestling consider bringing it aboard so that members of the football team can compete.
Considering that once football ends and after a couple of weeks of mending, most football players begin the year-long process of building their muscles and getting faster so why not take it to the mat?
In the case of my grandson, football is not an easy sport to just start without having been involved in physical contact, so the hope is that learning a little bit about wrestling will toughen him up to prepare him for his first experience in football.
Video games and television doesn’t teach toughness. Getting involved in sports as wrestling and football does.
Hopefully, more young men like Morton will take the challenge of getting involved in wrestling and taking the benefits from the mat to the gridiron.
Meanwhile, I will have to make sure that my grandson doesn’t use too many of his new wrestling moves on his sister like he did when he pinned her in the playground inside Chick-Fil-A.

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