To the IndianaMat community and especially to those senior wrestlers and/or parents:
First of all, I'd like to apologize for any hardships you, loved ones, or anyone dear to you is enduring because of the Coronavirus. It's disrupting nearly all aspects of our every day lives, schooling, and work. I'd like to say, especially to the current high school seniors (and by extension, parents) who in many cases have lost their final semesters, proms, sports seasons, and more that I feel for your losses. In retrospect, at least (high school) wrestling got to conclude its season. IHSAA basketball, along with NCAA Winter Sports weren't so fortunate. Hopefully, for all seniors and parents, you were able to complete your goals and end your final season on the note(s) you desired. However, speaking from personal experience, I know that realistically this isn't the case for most. For you all, it has, at the least, been a month (roughly) since the end of the State tournament. Most of you are done with in-person schooling. My question is: What comes next?
Though it is pertinent right now to keep a grasp of the day-to-day, especially with how drastically things can shift, it is just as important to not lose sight of your futures. One of the things that has been affected by the pandemic, due the closure of universities and schools, is college recruiting (academically and athletically). If you are leaving your houses, it certainly isn't to visit campuses. Thus, the process of recruiting and the process of college selection have both been complicated tenfold. With this post, I'd like to do my part both on behalf of the Wabash Wrestling program and Wabash College itself to reach out to this community.
A little background on me: My name is Anthony Cicciarelli, and I'm currently finishing my junior year at Wabash (online, ha .. ha). At school I double major in Math and Spanish. My journey to Wabash essentially began March of my senior year. I originally hail from Brownsburg; despite being less than an hour away from my hometown, I honestly never really knew about Wabash other than things like Scholastic Duals and just hearing the name in conversation. Beginning during my senior season, I met a few Wabash coaches at tournaments and sent a few texts, but I still really had no idea about the school or people at all. At this point, I wasn't too focused on figuring out my college situation until the end of season. After its conclusion, I considered a lot of things for my future. I ultimately decided two things: I had higher things to aspire for academically, and I had higher goals to set for myself athletically. Wabash gave me a place in which I could accomplish both.
Upon visiting Wabash for the first time, *cue cliche* I fell in love. If I were to sum up what I loved, and still love today, about the school, I would mention three important aspects of Wabash:
With a college of around 900 students, Wabash truly feels like its own neighborhood as opposed to a whole city (e.g. large state schools). When I say that you will see everyone, you will see everyone. Not only do I see almost every professor I've ever had walking across campus on a daily basis, I often times eat lunch less than 10 feet of them (at the Wrestler table in the dining hall). I see classmates all around campus, whether at the library or the gym. On the wrestling side, with a team of over 50 members at a school of 900, the math says that about 1 in 18 of the people right next to me is going to be someone I already know and have a relationship with already. Often times it's even more than that. Each of my classes this semester, I have at minimum one other wrestler with me to work, study, and learn with. Past all of this, the simplest evidence of the communal structure of Wabash can be found every Thursday, when we have a complete class block (1 hour 15 min) blocked off on top of our lunch hour so that students and staff are free to attend an all campus, community meeting in the Wabash "Chapel"(non-religious).
During my first visit to school, I got to sit in on a class and later meet a professor tailored to my future major interests. The professor sat and talked math with me for the hour, and lo and behold today I am a math major. I was walked between buildings by an individual student guide, and walked to meet and explore the athletic facilities by multiple members of the wrestling team to meet the coaches. Today, as a student, accessibility has not changed a bit. Just my daily homework routine exemplifies it perfectly. My most productive homework spot is in the coaches' office alongside our 4 on site coaches. I'm usually joined by one or two other wrestlers at any given time. If I have an issue with the work, I have a few options. I can reach out to any one of my team members who between themselves cover pretty much any subject area in their majors. I can walk two minutes to my professors' open offices in any of the academic buildings. I can send an email to the professor or the multiple tutoring centers on campus and make an appointment within the very same day. Or, my personal favorite, I can even text a handful of previous or current professors that have given me their personal numbers for all and any reasons necessary. The easiest part of it all is that I can do it all within a 5 minute walk on campus.
Independence is inherent in almost every person's college experience. For the first time for many students, they are on their own physically, mentally, and emotionally. From the beginning, until the most recent day I was on campus, that rang true. Wabash is grounded in one simple, yet profoundly important, ideal and principle for student conduct: The Gentleman's Rule. It states: "The student is expected to conduct himself at all times, both on and off the campus, as a gentleman and a responsible citizen." This is all encapsulating and all encompassing for life on campus. Simply, students are given the freedom and guidance to conduct themselves in a manner that they see fit, as long as it fits the confines of our one rule. Within Wabash, students find themselves given permissions and privileges that larger schools would never allow. (Of course, if these become detrimental in the slightest, they are not permitted - as they break the one and only rule). In short, good luck finding another school in Indiana that allows all students to have and park their cars free of charge and for all grade levels. This is just the tip of the iceberg in the unique student independence at Wabash.
While these are some more personal reasons, the specs of the school and Wrestling program are equally as important and impressive. (Full disclosure, I'm not an actual recruiter or employee of the college, so these are going to be my version of the specs. More empirical numbers can be found on wabash.edu)
-A team of consistently over 50 members
-A team with three #1 ranked wrestlers this previous season, and many more in the rankings
-A separate, wrestling-exclusive, nearly brand new wrestling facility that outsizes and outshines many Division I facilities
-An extremely high level practice room and talent pool
-Wrestler exclusive workout area, exercise equipment, cold and hot tub, fridge, and locker room
-A full field house and track for all students, and a full gym (both traditional and more athletics focused areas)
-Access to a staff of over 7 combined coaches
-Top notch, incredible financial aid and scholarship opportunities
-An extremely high caliber education and net of professors
-#1 ranked Career Services in the nation (per Princeton Review) completely free of additional cost
-A beautiful and well-preserved campus, as well as short distance between all points
-Around 40 majors and minors
-Options for both fraternity and independent living
-Opportunities for immersion courses, which are classes built around a travel component that is provided free of cost to students (I spent a week in Mexico last year)
These are, of course, just some of the so many highlights of the school. There are many more incredible features and compelling statistics for finding. My final message to the seniors that I want to express is that, when considering plans for yourself after high school, you need to look at the big picture. This includes not only the month, or the year, ahead of you. This includes, four, ten, and twenty years down the line. Wabash is a place that is ready to take you in for the present and ride with you for the future. Wabash is a place derived and thriving on goals. An opportunity here will allow you to set incredible goals for yourself, and for those who are willing to work -- achieve these goals on and off of the mat. My life would be profoundly different if I was not still able to wrestle today, and I can confidently say that it would be profoundly worse off as well. Wabash allowed me to mold my unaccomplished goals and unsteady ambitions for the future of high school into clearly structured, attainable, and elite objectives for my college and professional life.
Wabash is a place where I can keep enjoying this sport. Wabash is a place where I can keep growing as a man. Wabash is a place where I can keep my future within my grasp. Wabash is a special place.
I hope that, at the very least, this has reminded seniors of the important of the times to soon come, the importance of the times behind them, and certainly the unique times we are living in right now. I really urge those who still have unknowns about their future as students, athletes, and student athletes to give Wabash a sincere consideration when making these decisions. It is absolutely not too late to take an interest in the school. Though for obvious reasons, most on campus visits and resources are unavailable right now in person, I can assure you that any member of the community and faculty will be willing to help in every way possible. To any wrestler or parent that has any questions or interests in the school and/or wrestling program, I would really love to help you in the best way possible or put you in contact with someone who can. My phone number is (317) 654-5240 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anthony Cicciarelli, Wabash '21
P.S. Any current or former Wabash student, wrestler, fan, or friend of the school that might be able to give their own side "Why Wabash?" as well, please do!