A Letter to My Wrestlers

-By Lee Culpepper

Note to readers: I felt compelled to publish this letter because of the direction that half of America seems to want to take this country. Most of my wrestlers are new to the sport. Due to the hard work and tough nature that wrestling requires, more than 50% of the boys who attended the first practice quit within the first week. As an English teacher also, I have seen the same lack of perseverance and work ethic in the classroom, and it saddens me. I don’t know that my philosophy is the answer to this problem. But I do know the answer does not exist in telling kids—or anyone– that they “deserve” or are “entitled” to anything just because they are Americans. I also know that most of my athletes and students perform better when they take this message to heart.

Dear Wrestlers and Parents,

I would like to use this opportunity to share some thoughts with you regarding our upcoming season. Among my own goals, I want each of you (wrestlers) to develop qualities that will help you succeed both on and off the mat. In life, it is important for you to appreciate that what we obtain or accomplish too easily, we tend to value too lightly. Most accomplishments that are meaningful and worthwhile require hard work and dedication. To be successful, you must be willing to make sacrifices concerning your free time. Working when you may not feel like working is not always fun (just ask your parents), but it always pays off if you have the discipline to do it.

Wrestling is an incredibly tough sport. You will need mental toughness to help endure its physical intensity. This season, I will encourage you to reflect continuously on your work ethic, tenacity, self-discipline, personal responsibility, commitment, unselfishness, and teamwork. As your coach, I have an obligation to teach you these qualities through my own actions. If you will strive to develop these qualities and apply them to other areas of your life, you will quickly discover their value. I promise you that these traits will give you the edge that successful people share whether it is in athletics, the classroom, a job, or a friendship.

Furthermore, I want to stress the value of competition. When we compete against one another, we push each other to get better. Respect all your opponents –whether they are teammates or rivals– because they contribute a great deal to your own improvement. Without competition, we tend to grow complacent, lazy, and inactive. Unfortunately, some people misunderstand competition. They fail to see how their rivals are actually helping them to better themselves. When you encounter individuals like this, respect yourself and carry yourself with dignity no matter how your opponents behave. Let your training and preparation speak for itself. Self-discipline and serious preparation make much more powerful statements than cheap words and shameful behavior. Remember that.

As you plan your personal goals this season, do not be afraid to set objectives that other people might consider lofty. If you truly work to be the best, you may or may not get there. But you are most likely to achieve your true potential when you have the guts to attempt tackling goals that others may tell you are not realistic. In order to be the best, you have to outwork the best. Never skip practices. Your teammates must know that they can depend on you to prepare yourself to the best of your ability. Skipping a practice will mean missing a competition. If you have to miss a practice, make an effort to let me know beforehand. Unexcused absences can lead to an individual being dismissed from the team.

I am looking forward to working with all of you. Lets work together to make this a great season.

Semper Fi,

Coach Culpepper
Lee Culpepper is a Marine turned high school English teacher. Currently, he is writing his first book, Alone and Unafraid: One Marine’s Counterattack Inside the Walls of Public Education.

Lee can be reached at drcoolpepper@yahoo.com.

Visit Lee’s blog at http://wlculpepper.townhall.com/

Fair Use: This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research, educational, or satirical purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site/blog for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001