THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 26, 2013
What is it about wrestling that sets it apart from the other organized athletic opportunities offered to young people?
Why are those who have wrestled so passionate about the benefits of wrestling?
Why is wrestling not considered our national past time?
These are the types of questions that would be going thru my head as I hiked along the Appalachian Trail. I was able to ask myself these questions and often times come up with some very good answers as I hiked the late summer days to help “Save Olympic Wrestling”.
No other sport accessible to the majority of young people requires the same level of personal sacrifice that wrestling does.The physical demands needed to wrestle can not be understood by those who never have wrestled. The need for incredible aerobic/anaerobic stamina and endurance, necessary strength to combat an equally strong and skilled opponent, and the ability to absorb physical punishment while sustaining an offensive are unknown realities in any other sport. I began running marathons in an effort to get in wrestling shape but all wrestles know the “Only way to train to Wrestle is to Wrestle” So I had to say not even 26.2 miles compared to the effort needed for 6 or more minutes on the mat!
When I think of the people in my life affiliated with the sport of wrestling I see one common quality in all of them. They are all the most passionate people because they realize that the benefits of being a wrestler is something that extends long after the time spent on the mat. The disciplines and values learned in the wrestling room will be the very same values needed to survive long after the days of competing are over.
I believe that wrestling is the most “organic”of all organized sports today and truly emphasizes what is so incredible about the human spirit. The amount of personal sacrifice and perseverance required to reach your goal is unparalleled, the individual aspect of wrestling combined with the team concept offers dueling disciplines and added obligation, and the highest level of achievement is the right to compete in the worlds oldest competition for amateur athletes known as the Olympics!!! Not some multi million dollar entertainment industry that is often plagued with scandal and discontent. Wrestlers in my opinion are the purest forms of the ultimate athlete. And that’s why I believe it should be considered our national past time.
Congratulations to all the athletes who participated in the World Championships in Budapest. You not only made each of your countries very proud ,you made the entire wrestling community proud and showed the world once again why wrestling is at the CORE of great athletics!
“At the Core of a Wrestler is a Great Citizen”
Support Olympic Wrestling
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2013
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2013
To all who helped Save Olympic Wrestling,
I have never been so proud and honored to be a part of the Wrestling community and culture as I am today. Hearing the wonderful news that wrestling has been reinstated to the 2020/2024 games brings me incredible satisfaction and reassures me that with patience,passion and perseverance anything is possible. I lean on the disciplines I learned as a wrestler everyday of my life. When the decision to remove wrestling was announced I desperately wanted to take action. For many years after I last competed on the mat I was wondering how I could convey my appreciation to the sport of wrestling; which was the single most influential experience I had as a young man and drastically helped shape my spirit.
I realized that most, if not all my personal accomplishments could be credited to wrestling; I fathered four boys at the relatively early age of 22 and with all four boys born by the time I was 26, I developed a pizza business that I ran successfully starting at age 21 and operated for over 15 years. Have run countless road-races finishing in the top 10,completed 3 marathons in respectable times, competed in adventure races, returned to the mat to compete at age 34 and many other successful achievements. I would hear myself say..”Because I’ve Wrestled I know I Can!!” every time a new challenge arose.
I decided to demonstrate my passion at the 2013 Boston Marathon. I can still feel the pride I had as I ran 26.2 miles in the spirit of “Save Olympic Wrestling”the support and response for wrestling was something I had never felt before and I truly couldn’t have been more inspired than I was that day. However my elation was short lived as we all know and I was suddenly deflated from one of greatest personal feelings of accomplishment to a sense of extreme sadness and heartache.
In the weeks to follow I couldn’t ignore my desire to in someway make right and not be defeated by the violence or evil that polluted Boston that day. Again it was the qualities of the wrestler who refused to stay down, I went back home,decided to train harder and go bigger. With that was the birthplace of MEGA TREK. On June 21,2013 I decided to take on a challenge that would spread our message far and wide as well as show first hand the fortitude of a wrestler. Sacrifice is something every wrestler comprehends and my plan didn’t come without sacrifices of its own, but wrestling taught me that ” Self Discipline & Sacrifice Always Precede Success!” My plan to hike along the Appalachian Trail originated, was planned for ,and begun in less than 6 weeks. In such a short time period I was able to brainstorm this idea, acquire the “ways and means” to see it through, and begin hiking on August 13,2013. Many things needed careful thought and consideration. I planned the best I could and left room for this journey to take shape as I went. At the time of conception I don’t believe a date had yet been set for a reinstatement vote by the IOC. As it would turn out the historic vote that would forever shape the future of wrestling would come less than 30 days into my hike. From the reaction of everyone I met from my first step gave me great confidence wrestling would be rightfully reinstated. On the trail I felt so privileged to be the ambassador for our cause. Over the weekend leading up to the vote I was further encouraged by the excitement of everyone who read my flags. On Sunday evening when I officially heard the vote myself I was ecstatic. To be part of this historic effort is an honor and something I will reflect on with immense pride and satisfaction.
I like to find the “silver linings” in any situation and I am convinced that this episode in wrestling history may in turn be one of the greatest things to happen to our sport. We were able to start a grassroots effort, align ourselves in unity for our cause and demonstrate globally the benefits of wrestling. There will be a renewed audience that may not have followed Olympic Wrestling before and we are being proactive with the changes needed to make our sport as appealing as it is dignified. We truly lead by our actions not our words and therefore we are victorious!
In light of the vote coming just a month into my journey I am left to decide how I will proceed; I have considered a victory march to Georgia, possibly changing my plan to a hike & bike mission to expedite my return home or simply saying I am satisfied with my efforts and my mission has been accomplished. After two days of consideration I have decided I am best off returning home to my family (whose support and confidence did not go without sacrifice) and get back to life as usual. In my heart I know if it meant hike for 90 days and thousands of miles while we were still uncertain of wrestling’s future there is no question I would without hesitation or reservation. I believe I will best serve my family and the sport by going back home ,summarizing my experience and sharing it with young people to inspire them to “Dream Big” as I have done. With the potential for young wrestlers to have Olympic Wrestling ambitions I am confident their future is brighter than ever!
With Sincere Gratitude and Contentment I Thank You All!!!
Jeffrey F. Fleming
Team Drive Train
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2013
Over the next week we will be posting pictures people that Jeffry has met during his travels who support Olympic wrestling!
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2013
Save Olympic Wrestling Friends,
The feeling I have as I do my part to raise awareness and bring attention to the “Save Olympic Wrestling” initiative is absolutely amazing. I am so proud to be able to talk with people and hear first hand how passionate about wrestling the hiking community and the public at large is. I was surprised at how many people outside the wrestling community hadn’t heard that wrestling had been selected for removal as a core sport in the 2020 games. When I informed them they were instantly outraged and quick to voice support for reinstatement by the IOC.
Since I began at Baxter State Forest the home of the Appalachian Trails most celebrated summit Mt. Katahdin, I have yet to find anyone that supports the removal of wrestling from the Olympic Games. One of my favorite comments was “That’s like taking English out of England or Spanish out of Spain!!”
Some of my favorite interactions have been with people who have generations of wrestling background and history.While I was in the first “trail town” after completing the 100 Mile Wilderness which offers some of Maine’s toughest sections on the Appalachian Trail, (Monson,Maine) I had an incredible dinner conversation at the Lakeshore Pub with one of New England’s longest serving wrestling coach and mentor Rocky Livingston. Rocky has over 58 years of wrestling experience; he began wrestling in Connecticut in 1956, was a repeat New England Prep School Champion; wrestling for the prestigious Taft School and was heavily recruited to wrestle for division 1 Stanford in California. He then began coaching in 1969 where he would ultimately land at the Roxbury Latin School (which is the longest continually operating school in North America circa 1645!!) Rocky has been on the faculty for some 28 years. Roxbury Latin School is a powerhouse in the New England Prep School wrestling circuit. I just happened to sit at a table next to Rocky and his longtime friend John who
were enjoying dinner together. As I was being sat, Rocky read the logo on my Connecticut Wrestling Shirt and I was invited to eat at the table with them where we literally talked for two hours about every aspect of wrestling. A total random collision of two wrestling enthusiasts in such a remote part of Maine was just incredible and it would be the first of a number of other direct interactions with wrestlers and their families. I shared a shelter with a Mt. Anthony Vermont wrestlers sister who told me her brother had achieved a hundred varsity wins during high school, an impressive accolade. While having breakfast at a Shaws Bed and Breakfast I was seated next to two wrestlers from East Greenwich,Rhode Island Conor Fallon,Will Larcom who were very excited to engage in conversation about wrestling and started my day off with lots of enthusiasm. Countless hikers on the trail were themselves wrestlers or had close connections to the sport.
Over Labor Day weekend I was blessed to be able to visit with my Girlfriend Brenda who is a wrestling mom and our 7 sons who all have wrestled. They joined me in trail town of Franconia, New Hampshire where we went to the gorgeous area called “The Basin” a mystically sculpted rock landscape that cascades water into whirlpools as well had natural water slides and adventurous rock scrambles. While enjoying ourselves we captured many images with the “Save Olympic Wrestling” flags. As we were leaving we happened upon a fellow CT Wrestling family the Kratzer’s , Ricky Kratzer who wrestles for Foran High School Wrestling in Connecticut. While I was in the gorgeous town of Hanover NH the home to the Ivy League College Dartmouth I met a wrestler from Tokyo,Japan and had breakfast bought for me at Lou’s Bakery , along with one of the most spirited conversations with Gregory Hopkins a retired Para-Rescue service member and an internationally accomplished wrestler. Greg grew up the son of a wrestler who was stationed abroad with the military when Greg began wrestling. He was a top place finisher among American Military Wrestling Clubs. Greg was in Hanover because his daughter had been accepted to Dartmouth. I have have had countless conversations with Grandparents, Aunts,Uncles, friends and families of wrestlers. The one thing they all have in common when talking to me about they’re loved ones who wrestle is the amazing self discipline, sacrifice and commitment wrestlers have and how beneficial wrestling has been for they’re son or daughter. As we approach the day of the vote to reinstate wrestling I am extremely hopeful our efforts to “Save Olympic Wrestling” have not been in vain and we will soon e celebrating a successful effort of historic significance. I am extremely proud to be a member of the wrestling community and believe our success will be a testament to the exceptional qualities that the Sport of Wrestling uniquely possesses.
“Because I’ve Wrestled I Know I Can!!”
With 2020 Vision We Are Keeping the Dream Alive!!
Team Drive Train
Jeffrey Fleming /email@example.com
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2012
Definitions of a Champion
The first thing most of us think of when we hear the word champion is about the same; the best at their skill, the most successful in their cause etc… But there is another definition of a champion I’d like to share with you. This definition helped me “Champion” adversities in my own life. Every weekend I have spent in gymnasiums at wrestling tournaments I found it easy to pick out the Champs. They are the very skillful and tactful wrestlers who often reach the finals, and rightfully so. They have honed their skills, worked incessantly to perfect their technique and therefore they often reach the podium. It is a right of passage for their hard work and that must motivate them week in and week out to come and compete.
However I took equal notice and found equal appreciation for the giant number of kids who never reach the podium but are also there every weekend. I thought to myself these wrestlers to are Champions too.What motivates them to come back week in and week out to compete? It isn’t the accolades or the medals and trophies so what is it? As the head coach of my hometown club FishEye Wrestling said at our first practice ever “It’s A Matter of Pride!!”
I often make this point by taking one wrestler from each description; A gold medal type of champion and a wrestler without a winning record that rarely places. I tell them for one minute to follow my instructions… I have the medalist push the other wrestler to the mat and that tell that wrestler to get right up and repeat this for the minute. Then I ask the question… A month from now who would be stronger? The one pushing the other down or the one who gets pushed down but gets right up refusing to stay down ? I believe it’s likely the later. I dont intend on discrediting the medalist at all, I just want to highlight the amazing spirit of a wrestler who refuses to stay down knowing its likely to happen again and again. Since there are only three place finishers at any given tournament there are a large number who fit the description of the Champion who knows no medals. These are life long lessons, in life you get pushed down getting back up is a necessary part of living. In my own life I would not have made it anywhere without the tenacity and courage to get back up and carry on. I have been able to lean on the lessons I learned in the wrestling room on a daily basis. When I lack motivation I dig deep and find a way to get the work done. When I set my goals I set them high because I’ve wrestled and that makes any challenge achievable, and when I fail I do not give up I get back up and push on.
In life you have three choices…
Give up, Give In or GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT!!
All Heart All Hustle!
Team Drive Train
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2013
TUESDAY AUGUST 27, 2013
MONDAY AUGUST 26, 2013
As the start of school begins I wanted to share a concept I have been thinking of to better prepare our young wrestlers for the “real world”. I believe that the earlier we can educate our young athletes that academics and athletics must parallel each other the better off they will be.To be a spectacular athlete and have poor academics minimizes if not totally eliminates the benefit and quality of any extracurricular achievements. Furthermore come high school you will not be allowed to participate if you don’t have a certain grade point average. I can remember serval great wrestlers whose wrestling never was discussed with a college coach simply because their grades didn’t get them passed the academic admission requirements.It is essential to teach this lesson as early as we can to young people.
I am hoping that USA Wrestling by virtue of its sanctioned clubs would be the first national organization affiliated with youth sports to adopt my Academic Accountability Pledge
FishEye Wrestling my hometown club is the first to adopt this simple pledge :
1)When doing seasonal registration included with the typical paperwork and signatures that each parent/guardian include a current copy of that child’s report card or a letter from the parent/guardian stating that their son/daughter has satisfied the required academic standards to be able to participate that season.
2) Parents/Guardians agree to keep coaching staff up to date if a wrestlers academics drop below the required standard.
It is our job as parents,coaches , and members of the community that we give our children the very best opportunity to be successful . Youth sports are the greatest way to teach children the disciplines needed in life.
Sports give them a tangible way to measure their investment. You can only get out of athletics what you put into it; such is life! I tell my own children “a push up is a penny” how much are you willing to ” invest” to achieve your goal? You can only take out what you’ve put in. These are the lessons that remain long after our days as competitors and most likely the ones they will need to succeed !
Team Drive Train
To help support Jeffrey’s cause you can purchase MEGATREK hats and t-shirts. Hats can be made in any two color combinations to coincide with team colors. They are FlexFit fitted hats s/m for youth L/XL for adults. The official shirts are also pictured below. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to place an order.
TUESDAY AUGUST 20, 2013
It is a week into my journey on the AT and I am doing well. Like any new experience I am learning the dos and do nots of thru hiking. I first struggled with the isolation from family and friends but the people on the trail are amazing spirits!! Having started in the north I am getting seasoned in some of the toughest terrain the AT has to offer;roots,rocks,mud and major climbs and steep descents. My pre-hike training was invaluable it allowed me to push thru the 100 Mile Wilderness ( the AT’s most isolated area) in just 4 days. I covered 30 miles twice and 25 / 20 on the other days. As a wrestler first and hiker second I break my days into 3 periods; in the first I like to score big miles early and often to set a good pace, in the second period I keep up the pressure and look for angles to insure my lead on the days mileage and in the third I push on and finish hard. My wrestling experience is helping me out here I know I have to press on everyday and not get complacent. The other hikers tell me my mileage and stamina are admirable and for being new to the trail I am looking strong. I found myself having some initial uncertainties when I begin to fatigue,as I pass hikers going the opposing way I ask about the terrain and difficulty?
It’s just like when I was a boy and afraid of who was in my bracket so I’d ask everyone if they knew the kids in my weight and try to get a sense of my competition I realize now this is out of insecurity… Regardless of who you have to wrestle or what hill I have to climb I should care not about the opponent or objective until its show time. It doesn’t matter a bit and you only psych yourself out so going forward I’m going to attack each obstacle the same with 100% HEART,100% HUSTLE.
I have met so many supporters of “Save Olympic Wresting” everyday. I ate breakfast with two boys on the East Greenwich Rhode Island Wrestling Team, camped with the sister of a Mount Mansfield Vermont Wrestler who had 100 varsity wins and dozens of others with connections to wrestling.
Still I am amazed that the general population at large is unaware of the IOC decision to remove wrestling from the 2020 games… But when I tell them they are all on board to save our sport. I had estimated aprox 65 days to get to Georgia but I realize now with daylight
getting shorter I may have to revise my strategy. I hope to shuttle my pack ahead 20-30 miles so i could trail run with just a days worth of food and water whenever possible to give me an added edge on finishing. I may decide to jump on a road bike and gain mileage as the weeks go on, I’d like to summit the highest peak in every state along the AT to waive the “Save Olympic Wrestling” spirit from high above. I am looking for families who want to help me “pay it forward” by shuttling my pack or offering me a refresher in their home town. If I bike at some point I may be able to visit local wrestling clubs along my route to share the experience. I am thinking of you all as I hike and I am forever grateful to be entrenched in such a magnificent culture that is USA Wrestling. Keep Moving Forward. Keeping the Dream Alive 1 mile at a time!!!
Regards Jeffrey Fleming
Trail Name CTMEDIC 5ZULU1 in honor of my late twin brother Jonathan Driscoll Fleming who passed suddenly October 3,2012. His presence and guidance are guiding me thru.
Team Drive Train 1976
Some pics from the past couple of days:
MONDAY AUGUST 19, 2013
Post by Richard Immel
I just spoke with Jeff on the phone. He has been held up do to complications with his achilles tendon. He had to visit a hospital in Munson, ME but has just decided he is well enough to continue on his journey.
His spirit is up and he is ready to move on and fight through the pain as any wrestler would. Jeff also assured me that the Save Olympic Wrestling flags were flying at the hospital! We will have a blog post from Jeff in a day or two recapping his full experience in what was the hardest 100 mile stretch of his journey.
FRIDAY AUGUST 16, 2013
Some photos from day one of MEGA TREK!
Solid as a rock!! #team2020
“So far the support for wrestling is incredible and my emotions are my biggest challenge so far being away from my kids but all in all I am committed and going to carry on! Pressure Forward!”
You can track Jeffrey as he navigates the trail by using this link
TUESDAY AUGUST 13, 2013
“same nerves as the night before the tournament…”
I wanted to write a send off letter that thanked the many generous people and small local business’s that were very instrumental in getting me started on my quest to hike the Appalachian Trail. I also wanted to share some of what inspires me to take on this challenge and how I became so fortunate and have been able to “dream big”!!!
The most common question I get asked is “WHY” would anyone want to attempt something so challenging and for such an extended period of time? For me it’s part of a lifelong journey towards self improvement and reflection. As a young boy I was blessed to have found the culture of USA Wrestling and it was there the foundation of my character was built. I often times refer to the lessons and values I learned in the wrestling room to navigate situations in my adult life. When most of my character qualities were fleeting, the wrestler remained. Self Discipline,Sacrifice and Perseverance are the lessons I first learned from my time on the mat.
When I heard of the IOC decision to remove wrestling as a core sport from the 2020 Olympic Games, like many I was beside myself. How could the sport that helped found the games now be up for removal? Once I was past the initial outrage, I started to brainstorm how I could bring some attention to the cause of “Save Olympic Wrestling”. So after careful thought I set my sights on the 2013 Boston Marathon as it was a grand international stage with exactly the audience I was hoping to appeal to. I set out to run 26.2 miles of the worlds most iconic marathon sporting two “Save Olympic Wrestling” flags attached to my camelbak. The run that day was amazing and the overwhelming love for wrestling was surreal ….but my sense of accomplishment was short lived as the events that occurred that day in Boston horrifically overshadowed every marathoners sense of achievement. As I reflected over the events in the weeks to follow I could not ignore my desire to make right on my quest to help Save Wrestling. With that was the birthplace of MEGA TREK 2013 the few changes I made were to “up the bar” so to speak and to have a prolonged presence to showcase the passion and commitment of the wrestling community. 2180 miles thru 14 States in aprox. 65 days 1 wrestler will Walk the Walk and Take A Stance to Save Olympic Wrestling!!!
Team Drive Train
If you are interested in helping Jeffrey in his journey down the Appalachian Trail or simply visiting him along the way please email him at email@example.com and he will contact you. His Journey will begin in the morning!
WEDNESDAY JULY 31, 2013
Post By Richard Immel
The historic Appalachian Trail hike begins at Mount Katahdin in Maine, winding its way down to Springer Mountain in Georgia. This trail is describe by those in the hiking community as a “super trail” and is one of three hikes included in the “triple crown” of American hiking.
Fleming hopes to set an example of perseverance for his four sons, all of whom wrestle, and the world as he ventures out on a journey of self-discovery while also promoting the sport of wrestling.
“I think it is important to take on challenges in life that are intimidating and not something you can guarantee to complete, and not be afraid to set goals that are high,” Fleming said. “You have to be brave enough to set high goals and brave enough to make those goals a reality.”
Fleming plans to backpack the entirety of the Appalachian Trail over a two-month span beginning the week of August 13, 2013 with a finish date expected in mid to late October. He will do so wearing two Save Olympic Wrestling flags and a wrestling singlet.
The journey of Jeffrey Fleming will be documented in its entirety through various techniques including both written and video blogs, photos, action video and also a Go Pro camera capturing the entire hike. This content will be available in the special section titled “MEGA TREK” on themat.tv.
Fleming will be stopping in various locations to take pictures and visit with any wrestling supporters who would like to be involved with his quest. To contact Jeffrey Fleming either message the Drive Train Athletics Facebook Page or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please utilize the tentative schedule below to keep up with Fleming’s whereabouts as he treks across the country.
Maine: August 15-23
New Hampshire: August 24-29
Vermont: August 30-September 4
Massachusetts: September 5-8
Connecticut: September 9-11
New York: September 12-15
New Jersey: September 16-18
Pennsylvania: September 19-26
Maryland: September 27
The Virginia’s: September 28-October 14
Tennessee: October 15-17
North Carolina: October 18-21
Georgia: October 22-25