"It's the most wonderful time of the year ..."
The line from that classic holiday song is most appropriate now, as wrestling season is now underway ... and, as we enter the holiday season, a prime gift-giving season, too.
Searching for that winning gift for the wrestler -- or wrestling fan -- on your gift list? Here are some ideas that will score big. (To learn more about the book/movie -- and place your order -- click on the title.)
For Kids and Young Adults
Wrestling: A Boy's First Book
Want to introduce a youngster to all that's great about the sport of wrestling? You could spend hours searching the internet for an appropriate book, shell out some money for it (along with shipping and handling), then wait for it to arrive in the mail. Or you can take the easy way ... by downloading "Wrestling: A Boy's First Book." This age-appropriate book is written for young boys and girls ages 7-9 who might be interested in the sport ... and is designed to be read to potential wrestlers by their parents, grandparents or other caring adult. First published in 2009, it's proven book that's already in use in thousands of homes, now available as a free download for you to print out ... or read on your tablet or other device.
To Be The Best: Overtime
"To Be The Best: Overtime" by former wrestler H.L. Hertel is the third in a series of young adult novels focused on Ron Castle and his younger brother Nick, both Midwestern high school wrestlers. Here's how the newest member of the popular book series tells what's inside: "Nick enters his senior season with everything in life being nearly perfect. He has a loving girlfriend, a following of fans, a legendary coach and, like the end of his junior season, he is ranked first in the state. Yet, the cracks surface quickly as past agitators and teammates alike seem focused on keeping him from realizing his wrestling dreams while others seem intent on damaging his relationship ..."
Making History Personal
Leon Bailey: The Dream
Leon Bailey is one of the pioneers of amateur wrestling in the U.S. who opened the door to other athletes of color in the sport. He was the first African-American to wrestle for the U.S. Navy at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island in the mid-1960s who then became a Navy coach... and became the first black to win an individual title at the AAU New England Six-State Championships in 1964. The Baltimore native shares his life story in his inspiring new "Leon Bailey - The Dream" book that's uplifting and informative for readers of all ages.
"Pathfinder: The Journey of the African-American Wrestler" by Kevin Emily seeks to help today's athletes and fans of all colors appreciate the accomplishments and achievements of a number of African-American wrestlers and coaches who opened doors for subsequent generations of athletes. Emily, originally from Waterloo, Iowa who is now a high school wrestling coach in South Carolina, interviewed a number of pioneers in the sport (or their surviving family members), including Simon Roberts, Harold Henson, Nate Carr, Lee Kemp, and Carlton Haselrig who share their personal stories.
Wrestle Like a Girl
Women's wrestling has come so far, so fast. In 1989, the first U.S. women's World wrestling team consisted of two wrestlers and one coach; winners were awarded appliances, not trophies.
Contrast those early days with the tremendous growth in women's wrestling -- at least 30 women's college wrestling programs, and now seven states with officially sanctioned competition for high school girls -- along with recent successes such as Helen Maroulis becoming the first U.S. woman to win a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. "Wrestle Like a Girl" by Craig Sesker and Jamie Moffatt shares the stories of women who overcame stereotypes, discrimination and other obstacles to make their mark in the sport, from pioneers to today's superstars.
A Spartan Journey
Which Big Ten wrestling program was the first to win an NCAA Division I team title while a member of that conference? The answer: Michigan State, who did it at the 1967 NCAAs. Dale Anderson was a member of that history-making MSU wrestling team that helped propel the Spartans to that team title a half-century ago after having been a struggling, cellar-dwelling squad just three years earlier. Now Anderson tells that story -- along with what he describes as "a travelogue of my (wrestling) life" that intersects with a number of familiar names in the sport -- in his "A Spartan Journey: Michigan State's 1967 Miracle on the Mat."
Dan Gable: A Wrestling Life 2
If you think you know Dan Gable, you might be surprised by what you learn from the legendary wrestler/coach in his own words in the new book "Dan Gable: A Wrestling Life 2", the follow-up to the best-selling "A Wrestling Life: The Inspirational Stories of Dan Gable." Both books use a winning format where the great Gable shares stories from his own life -- some stories directly from wrestling, as well as those incidents beyond the mat -- as if the former University of Iowa coach and Olympic gold medalist is sitting right next to you. First book.
A Season on the Mat
Nolan Zavoral's classic "year in the life" book chronicles the dramatic 1996-97 season of the Iowa Hawkeyes, in which Dan Gable led his team -- far from his most talented -- to the national title. "Season on the Mat" takes readers behind the scenes to provide an incredible perspective into how a top collegiate wrestling program works ... along with insights into the legendary coach and how he managed to get the most from his athletes.
Inspiration to be Your Best
Chad Parks' Game Changing Moves
What kind of game-changing moves can propel a wrestler or coach from average or even less-than-adequate performance ... to a much higher level of success? Not just on the mat ... but also in all aspects of life? Long-time wrestler and coach Chad Parks shares his own unique insights gained from experiences that transcend sports, to have a positive impact on life, in his new book, "Game Changing Moves: Life Lessons Learned from the Locker Room and Beyond." The book features concise (3-5 page) chapters which address specific topics of significant interest to individuals in wrestling.
Noah Kaufman's Lessons from the Wrestling Mat: Life Lessons from a Quarter-Century of Coaching and Competing
Why wrestle? Those involved in the sport -- athletes, coaches, fans -- can offer various reasons to participate. As someone with 25 years as a wrestler and coach, Noah Kaufman has addressed that question in his new book, "Lessons from the Mat: Life Lessons from a Quarter Century of Coaching and Competing." This highly readable book shares various life lessons from wrestling -- including perseverance, confidence, dedication, gratitude, and overcoming adversity -- building on experiences shared by numerous wrestlers, as well as from other real-life stories.
Lee Kemp's Winning Gold
Lee Kemp is widely considered to be one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. He is a three-time World champion with three NCAA titles for the University of Wisconsin ... as well as an esteemed coach. In "Winning Gold", Kemp shares profound insights he discovered on his journey to success. Concise chapters packed with thought-provoking content make this inspirational new book a winner for readers of all ages.
Michael Fessler's The Wrestler
Imagine having the ability to share what you know now with yourself when you were a kid. Think of all the knowledge, wisdom and experience you could impart with the younger you. That's the idea behind Michael Fessler's third book, "The Wrestler: A Life of Passion and the Pursuit of Greatness" which the author has described as being "today's me talking to my younger self" ... all with the idea of helping today's wrestlers gain more from their careers, including a thoughtful perspective while they're still competing.
Jeff Spain's Wrestling with Business
There are powerful parallels between the world of business and the sport of wrestling. The elements that mean success on the wrestling mat -- hard work, tenacity, self-control, self-discipline, commitment, drive -- also translate to success in business at all levels, whether as a sales rep or a CEO. Jeff Spain, former NCAA wrestler and now successful life insurance sales and marketing executive, shares his experience, observations and insights into the aspects that make individuals winners in athletics and in business in his book, "Wrestling with Business: How Success on the Mat Leads to Success in Business." While Spain's book offers inspiration to former wrestlers now in the business world, its lessons are also applicable to young athletes still in the sport.
The Sparrow's Spirit
Wouldn't be great if we could benefit from someone else's wisdom and experience? Dr. Bill Welker's "The Sparrow's Spirit: A Champion Wrestler's Lifetime Reflections on Prayer and Perseverance" memoir does a winning job of serving up one man's wisdom gained from experience, so that today's readers can learn from his own missteps and mistakes ... in a series of concise, compelling stories from Welker's life as a wrestler and long-time instructor that make this 156-page book both humorous and uplifting for readers of all ages.
A Saint in the City: Stories of Champions from the Barrio
A new updated edition of Scott Glabb's memoir of coaching wrestling at Santa Ana High School in suburban Los Angeles and how he changes lives of those on his wrestling team. The book has been updated to include new chapters on female wrestlers, additional details on UFC fighter Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez, and more on some of the same memorable characters from the first edition, along with additional new photos.
Pennsylvania Wrestling Handbook, 2017-2018
Compiled by award-winning wrestling writer Tom Elling and updated each year, "Pennsylvania Wrestling Handbook" is the go-to source for the sport in the Keystone State. Features every PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) returning wrestler who was in PIAA or PIAST series tournaments, including won-loss records, weight, graduation year and tournament placement. In addition, you'll find every PIAA placer since 1938, as well as placer results for major tournaments featuring Pennsylvania wrestlers.
The History of Collegiate Wrestling
First published in 2005, "The History of Collegiate Wrestling: A Century of Wrestling Excellence" was late wrestling historian Jay Hammond's definitive book covering the first 100 years of intercollegiate wrestling. The original 380-page hardback provides a season-by-season analysis, along with feature articles including profiles of significant wrestlers, coaches and programs, analysis of rules changes, and other elements to add to a reader's understanding of college wrestling through the years. This edition has been updated to provide coverage through the 2017 college season.
Legends of Michigan: Cliff Keen
Mention the name Cliff Keen and large numbers of wrestlers and fans will immediately think of the company that provides wrestling gear. However, the man Cliff Keen is much more than an entrepreneur who launched that business. Keen was head coach of the University of Michigan wrestling program for 45 years, the longest tenure of any head coach at the Ann Arbor school ... and an assistant football coach for the Wolverines for 33 years, the longest-serving football coach at Michigan. This monumental book, written by Dave Taylor, is rich with detail on the Michigan wrestling program, including tons of photos.
Reel-Life Wrestling: See the Movie, Read the Book
American Wrestler: The Wizard
In this 2016 movie -- based on true events -- 17-year-old Ali Jahani is a newcomer to a small California town where he stands out as different in an unwelcoming community, living with an embittered uncle. The boy faces a mountain of adversity and rejection ... so he joins the school's foundering wrestling program, where he learns the benefits of hard work and teamwork. Stars Jon Voight, William Fitchner, and, in the title role, Ali Afshar.
In "Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold," 1984 Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz's memoir, reveals the real story behind why he and his brother Dave Schultz came to the Foxcatcher Farms wrestling training facility owned by multimillionaire John du Pont, heir to the du Pont chemical fortune. Mark Schultz's book served as the basis for the 2014 movie "Foxcatcher", starring Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz, Mark Ruffalo as Dave, and Steve Carell as du Pont. Movie link
What price are Ohio high school wrestlers willing to pay for a state championship? "Pinned" is the true story of two wrestlers -- one of them, future Ohio State and MMA star Lance Palmer -- each driven on a quest to win a state title. A compelling documentary now available on DVD.
You've seen the 1985 movie "Vision Quest" dozens of times, and worn out multiple copies of its popular soundtrack. But ... have you ever read the book? Terry Davis' "Vision Quest" is a classic coming-of-age novel well worth reading, as it serves up surprises and rewards for readers who can recite lines from the movie in their sleep. DVD
For fans of "Vision Quest" novel/movie, here's a gift idea that will wear well: unique T-shirts featuring iconic images of Brian Shute, the undefeated state champion wrestler who was Louden Swain's nemesis, sold by the man who brought Shute to life in the film, Frank Jasper. Visit www.shuteshirts.com.
Skip the mall; shop the Hall.
It's nearly impossible to find truly special, wrestling-related gifts at your local mall ... or the typical online shopping website. The one online exception is the website for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, where you'll find books, DVDs, posters, wearables, collectables, and so many more gifts sure to score big with the wrestlers, coaches and fans on your holiday list. Visit http://nwhof.org/products-page.