Scold, But Then Mold


There is a distinct point in time, in the development of a young man, when you can look back and pinpoint where his commitment to his wrestling journey began.

I remember my son’s time, very well.

It was hard to watch.

As growth always is.

“Don’t you ever disrespect me, this sport or this club like you just did, ever again,” Don Donnelly scolded Maverick in Danbury, CT right after a match when he was in the 8th grade.

Maverick had just shown tremendous frustration in his inability to score points at the end of his match.

His opponent hung on to a one-point lead as he milked the clock.

Winding up on cross-faces, pushing after the whistle, storming off the mat.

We’ve all seen frustrated wrestlers.

“If I ever see you act that way again, you will never wrestle for ‘The Razor Wrestling Club’ again,” Don continued his scolding.

And he was right, and I supported him 100%.

We have all seen it, the coach that takes the kid by the arm and gets in his face, rightfully so, about the way he just acted during or after his match.

Just as Don’s scolding started to lose steam, the magic began.

Don started his molding…

“Son, you have a ton of athletic ability. When you learn to funnel your frustration and anger into learning moves that will score points on the mat, well, that will be the day you will have a chance to be special in this sport.”

They say anger is frustrated love.


But then Mold.

A coach’s job is to transform frustration into passion.

You just never know what impact your words will have on someone.

Maverick soon focused his anger into scoring points.

Many points.

15 points per match, virtually every match.

For two years.

He became a scoring machine.

Accumulating over 50 techs in those two years.

I have always wondered what would have happened if Don had stopped his tirade with just a scolding.

What if he had left out the molding?

Would Maverick have ever gone on to score those points like he did?

I never have to think about that question for very long.

I have always pinpointed Don’s “Scolding and Molding” tirade as the pivotal event in Maverick’s wrestling development.

The scolding was 100% justified and warranted.

The molding was brilliant and rare.

The job of a coach is to take the data, the same data that everyone else has and make something more out of it than anyone else does.

To expand, to open up possibilities, to change behaviorism to get different results.

Seeing a frustrated wrestler is the data everyone else has.

What separates coaches is what they do with that data.

What they conclude from that data that no one else concludes.

The ability to take a frustrated fighter and create something special.

A wrestler.

Don’s “Scolding and Molding” propelled Maverick into his journey to become a wrestler.

I am sitting in a gym many years later, watching hour upon hour of other people’s sons wrestle.

A wrestler shows anger and storms off the mat after being frustrated when he couldn’t score points in the final seconds of his match.

The coach confronts the wrestler.

He gets in his face.

“Come on.”

“Come on,” I say to myself, as I am watching the young wrestler being scolded by his coach.

“Keep going, coach.”

“Keep going. Don’t stop.”

“Don’t stop.”

“Ahh man, he stopped.”

The scolding came to an end.

I am angry.

I am angry because the coach left out the molding.

I say to myself, 

“Coach, you had a chance to be special.”

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