My friend, Tim Crosby, is one of the smartest people I know. One of his favorite phrases is, “Everyone has good ideas. There are just very few who are willing to commit to them.”
I get pretty lucky sometimes and I’ve been on a hot streak recently. For a variety of reasons I have found myself in the presence of several of wrestling’s most powerful people. From Olympic gold medallists and world champions to “captains of industry” to writers to organizational leaders of the sport. I’m such a goober fan that I always wonder – “what the heck am I doing here?”
It started with a simple idea. “If we send as many kids as possible to the highest levels of competition, perhaps some of them will try or stay in the sport.” And, thus, Tickets for Kids was born. More importantly, I’m committed to making it work. Here’s what astonishes me – the number of people who are willing to help make it work.
Rod Frost wrestled at Gilbertville Don Bosco High School and Cornell College. He lives in Minnesota now and is a wrestling official. When he learned of the Tickets for Kids fan challenge he mounted a fund raising effort in support of the Golden Gophers. Not only did he raise a lot of money, he got J Robinson to lower the price of youth group tickets to $2 per piece.
Gail Rush might just be the ultimate “wrestling mom”. Her son, Clayton, is the reigning NCAA Division III 125 pound champion and Gail has supported the sport since Clayton was small. She, too, got busy when she learned about the fan challenge and as of today (10/25/10) Coe still tops the leader board.
The staff at Cornell College have been amazing. John Cochrane, Dick Simmons and Mike Duroe have been behind me since day one. Our inaugural effort, tickets for the 2010 NCAA Division III Championships, couldn’t have succeeded without them – or without Chuck Yrigoyen at the Iowa Conference and Anthony Holman at the NCAA.
Eric Betterman is co-founder, with Ray Brinzer, of the wrestling site The Open Mat and Eric is helping us with a Tickets for Kids website. We hope to have it up soon.
Contrary to what the last five paragraphs might indicate, this blog isn’t really about Tickets for Kids. It’s about committing to your ideas.
In 1981 John Graham was looking for a way to raise money for the Peninsula Wrestling Association. His idea – a dual meet tournament featuring a high school and a college division. The first edition had four high school teams and eight colleges competing. That was the start of the Virginia Duals – which also begat the National Duals. Twenty-four colleges in two divisions and 48 high schools will compete in the 2011 Virginia Duals on January 7th and 8th. John’s commitment to his idea created two of college wrestling’s premier events.
Steve Silver was a waiter at Red Lobster when he got the idea to start his own business. He began by selling used furniture at local flea markets. That has grown into the $150 million Steve Silver Furniture Company in the Dallas suburb of Forney.
Steve wrestled in high school and at the University of Alabama. When his son, Luke, expressed an interest in wrestling he realized that north Texas was not a hotbed for the sport so he started a youth wrestling club and eventually hired 1988 Olympic Gold medallist, Kenny Monday, to coach it. Steve’s support also helped build Bishop Lynch High School into one of the nation’s premier wrestling programs. Last year Steve was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as an Outstanding American.
The ideas don’t have to be big. The past couple of years the University of Iowa has offered “Family 4-Pack Night” for one dual. You get 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs and 4 sodas at a bargain price. Last season Hawkeye fan, Julia Labua, used this as a tool to introduce new people to wrestling. She offered her co-workers the opportunity to go to the meet on her dime. Several took her up on it and it may now become an annual office event. Julia was committed to her idea.
I’m online too much and I probably spend more time talking about wrestling than I ought to. I frequently read and hear good ideas about how to build interest in wrestling both among potential participants and potential fans. I’m sure that many of you have great ideas. Are you committed enough to make them happen?