One Shot Away: A Wrestling Story by T. Glen Coughlin
About T. Glen Coughlin
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T. Glen Coughlin, One Shot Away
Origins of the Novel:
I became interested in wrestling when my son, Tom, joined his high school wrestling team. He was a 99 pound freshman and wrestled 103, under the former weight classes. He had a tough first year and finished the season 5 and 5.
Tom fell in love with the sport. He’d come home from grueling practices, ready to show me what he’d learned. He recognized that he was years behind his competition, as many wrestlers hit the mat at 7 years old. My son attended wrestling camps and joined the town’s wrestling club. The work he put in at camps and practices gave him a good shot at breaking into his high school’s varsity line-up during his senior year. He put on some muscle and size, won a few JV tournaments and was wrestling 135.
Senior year, my son was ready to be a varsity wrestler. He had trained for three years. The only problem was every weight on the varsity team was filled. He challenged the 135 pound wrestler to a wrestle-off. My son lost in a close match, 5 to 2. The loss meant he would not have a starting position. There were no seniors on the JV team, so in effect. The only option he had was to be a backup wrestler on the varsity team.
After the wrestle off, we went home. The years of training, practice, camps, traveling, and devotion to a sport that had molded him into a physically and mentally strong young man, brought tears to his eyes. He told me he was sorry that he didn’t win. He talked about quitting the team. I told him it was okay. I told him I was proud of him no matter what. I said he was a champion.
He decided to stick out the season. On the opening day, he sat in the bleachers, dressed out in his singlet and sweats. I always carried a notebook with me. I opened it and wrote the first chapter of One Shot Away, A Wrestling Story. My character, Trevor Crow, was modeled after my son’s experiences.
Wrestling gave my son self-worth, confidence, and values. He learned the rewards of hard work and the ache of physical limitations. The sport gave him a sense of belonging. The word “proud,” hardly describes my feelings for him.
Wrestling is more than a sport. It’s a way of life. If a wrestler wants to be proficient on the mat, he can not stop wrestling when the season ends. He has to be dedicated all year long. It separates the good wrestlers from the great ones.
And, my son did get his shot on varsity after a wrestler left the team. He had a great season!