Growing up Camden

Success means having the right tools

By Dwight Collins | Mar 26, 2014

Camden — I was introduced to the sport of wrestling when I was in the third grade and little did I know then, the sport would play a role in every defining moment in my life so far.

In some cases it was the actual competition, but a majority of the time it was the traits and characteristics my coaches instilled in my teammates and I that allowed us to be successful not only on the mat but in life – by giving us the tools to compete.

My first coach, Gary Spinney, taught us that any body style can wrestle and be successful. He taught us the basics and a philosophy if we worked hard, good things could happen.

I was as round as I was tall, so those two things I learned from him made me feel comfortable with being a fat kid making those beginners mistakes, knowing I could get better at it and get in shape.

My middle school coach, Perry Goodspeed taught us to win and lose with equal grace and to set goals and guide us on how to obtain them. As a coach or a teacher, Goodspeed or “G” has taught generations of students these ideals, which in turn has made them very successful life.

Discipline and structure from my high school coaches, Rick Hamel for one season and John Kelly for the remainder of my career, gave me the ability to follow directions and maintain a rigid training regiment, while trying to become the best me I could be. They held us accountable to the team and more importantly – to ourselves.

Problem solving, conflict resolution, time management, preparation skills and physical fitness were some of the things that I was able learn through the sport and I cannot think of a time where at least one of them has not come into play.

I joined the U.S. Army out of high school and found myself at Fort Knox in Kentucky for Basic Infantry Training, 13 weeks of intense mental and physical training to be proficient in all aspects of becoming an infantryman. I believe 100 percent that if I had not had not become a wrestler those years back, I would have had a really tough go of it. Basic training was not nearly as hard and neither were any of my other military experiences thanks to the lessons learned as a kid.

Personally, those lessons not only helped me succeed in the military, but also in gaining employment, building relationships, being a good parent – and coaching.

I think the sport teaches something else too -- learning you are capable of pushing the boundaries of your body and mind far beyond imagination. Just at the moment things get too tough and you want to quit, your mind overrides your body's inability to continue and you power forward.

I believe that in order to fully enjoy success, first you must experience utter defeat and I can not think of a safer place to learn that lesson than in the arena of sport. It is far better to make a poor choice at practice and learn from it at a young age and apply it to life, then make that mistake as an adult and have to pay for it for the rest of your life.

The recipe to success is not exact and not everybody that knows what it takes to mix it in the right proportions, but the lessons that my coaches taught me are the same I have passed on. They gave me the tools and the blueprints – it was up to me to build it.

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