It's 2008. I'm sitting in an arena in Minnesota, there to watch my youngest son wrestle in a national tournament. He's a freshman in high school and he's made it to the finals. He will face one of Minnesota's studs, a wrestler he had faced many times before and never beaten. Behind me is a contingent of Minnesota wrestling moms. They are bad-mouthing my son. Loudly. Before I can stop her, my friend, who is sitting next to me, turns around and defends my son. Even more loudly. As the back-and-forth gets more and more heated, I am thinking, "This is going to come to blows" and wondering who will win (the fight in the stands not the one on the mat).
Every wrestling coach has dealt with that one parent who makes things difficult. In fact, many coaches may cringe when they think of the difficulties they have had with certain parents over the years.
Perhaps not as difficult as dealing with Lavar Ball, who USA Today just declared the worst sports parents ever.
On July 1, 2011, my youngest son came back from his off season wrestling practice with a letter. Inside that letter was an offer from a Division I school. Assistant coaches from the school met him at practice, the very first thing in the morning, on the very first day the NCAA rules allowed them to have direct contact with athletes. He was excited and flattered as he should have been, but he was nowhere near ready to commit. This was just the beginning. Ahead of us, a journey that would take months. Now, six years later, he is a graduate of a Big Ten university, getting his diploma this past May. As I took a look back at the time before we knew where he would go to school I came up with ten tips for parents who are entering the recruiting process.