I'm very grateful that I wrestled for Calumet and Coach Jim Wadkins, Larry Jamie Slagle, Begley and Fox. My parents did the best they could, but I feel like we kind of struggled financially when I was in middle school and high school. My mom worked part time as a carry out at the grocery store, but my dad was disabled. He wouldn't let me work though. He said that I had the rest of my life to work, but just a short time to be in sports. So, I concentrated on school and sports and got free breakfast, free lunch, reduced book rental and often wore poor fitting clothes that were stained by well water because we didn't have a water softener and sometimes the laundry mat was too expensive. I even remember a period when we got food from some food bank, but all the labels were missing from the canned goods. Dinner could easily be condensed milk and shrimp. Another night, it could be beans and cranberry sauce. Although I dressed kind of goofy and was often kind of hungry, I ALWAYS felt like a CHAMPION and I think Calumet's wrestling program had a lot to do with that.
My coaches had very high expectations. We could have had a lot of undefeated wrestlers during the regular season, but "to be the best, you have to beat the best" so we would travel in search of the ultimate competition. Instead of beating up on Griffith or the Gary schools, we would go to places like Mishawaka, Kokomo or Evansville so we could face the best competition. Our practices were just as intense as our competition. After a lot of practices, I wondered what could best describe what we just experienced. There was an Iowa wrestling video where one of the wrestlers said they did stuff that would make a billy goat puke. That sounds just about right. We even practices after winning sectionals one year because we had bigger and better things to do. The hard work paid off and we would always have a wrestling room full of champions. It made feel great to be a part of that.
I also enjoyed the fun stuff the wrestling team would do. We'd go to State, even if we didn't have any qualifiers so we could see what the goal was. We'd also take a yearly trip to watch Big Ten wrestling. The first time that i ate at Olive Garden was on a wrestling trip. I actually think about it whenever I visit or see a commercial. (The slogan even reminds me of wrestling, "when you're here, you're family) I even got to see the world's greatest athlete and second greatest coach, Dan Gable. (To say that he is very intense is an understatement.) It was pretty amazing to see him in person. It was also pretty amazing to watch Trevino wrestle one of Iowa's wrestlers, while Gable was coaching.
I have so many great memories thanks to Calumet's wrestling program. I could've been just another poor kid from Gary, but wrestling made me feel like a winner. I was grateful I was able to donate this year to help other wrestlers feel great and make great memories. I was very honored today when Calumet's wrestlers shook my hand and gave me the wrestling sweat shirt.
--written by David Bisbee but not posted by him.
---- I opened an account just to post this. 1st thanks Biz even thou its been yrs since we seen each other you're still my brother from another mother! The reality of it is Coach was so so much more to all of us than just a "Coach". I honestly believe i wouldn't be where i am in life today without him and his program. I wanted to quit one day and he knew i did. It was so simple what he said "don't quit I'll make you a champion". It was true but not only on the mat also in life. I can't thank you enough. I really wonder how many other lives he changed.