I can’t really say that I am surprised

If yesterday’s news regarding the house wasn’t challenging enough, my son called me from Philadelphia.

He talked with the wrestling coach…

It doesn’t look like  he is going to be awarded a wrestling scholarship!

That might be a problem…Drexel is a very expensive school!

I left a message on the coach’s voice mail last night. He called me back first thing this morning…

“Coach, I just wanted to check in with you to see how my son has progressed this year.”

“Well, he has done everything that we asked. He works very hard in the room and he is getting better all of the time. And he is an excellent student.”

“Has he progressed enough to earn a scholarship?”

Out came the shovel…

“Well, like I told Big A, I don’t have any money for underclassmen right now. All of my money is for upperclassmen.”

“Well, about this time last year, you told me that since all of your money for freshman recruits was already used, that if he would come to Drexel and redshirt (thus preserving his eligility) and then you would offer him a scholarship.”

“If he was going to be a starter! He can’t beat Booth (the scholarship starter at 157) regularly.”

“What about at 165?”

“Well, that kid isn’t costing me any money. He’s a walk on.”

At this point, I started to feel that I was being played for a fool…

Let me see if I understand this…beating the scholarship kid currently starting at 157 deserves a scholarship, but beating the non-scholarship kid currently starting at 165 doesn’t?

I pressed him as far as I could and still remain polite. In fact, at one point he raised his voice a little and said, “Look, if you’re not happy with Big A being here, we will release him right away.”

There it was…the truth. He likes Big A as a young man, but he is not all that impressed with him as a wrestler.

I can’t say that I really blame him. If I were in his shoes, I would probably have come to the same conclusion. Big A has been about 15 pounds overweight all year. In the few tournaments that he entered, he didn’t really do anything outstanding.

In fact, I thought this might happen…I tried to warn him.

When we dropped him off at school last September, I said “Son, you have to wrestle well enough to leave no doubt in the coaches mind.” He shook his head and said that he understood.

During Christmas break, I took Big A out for coffee…”Son, you’re not competing against the guys that are currently in the (wrestling) room. You are competing against the hot shot high school senior that wanted to come to Drexel.” He said that he understood.

But, he didn’t…or at least his actions didn’t prove that he got it.

But, what am I going to do…rebuke him? No.

He has grown tremendously this year. He has worked very hard and earned B+ average in a very tough major. He has maintained his moral integrity while living in the cesspool that is today’s college dorm.

One of my toughest challenges as a parent is letting my children learn their own lessons. My wife and I have done all that we know to do to equip our children to be successful in life. However, if they are going to benefit from our wisdom and experience, they have to put our instruction into practice. We can’t live life for them.

Before he left, I exhorted him, “Son, make the most of this season. You have a unique opportunity to really learn things. Don’t be content with merely getting a good grade. Study until you master it, until you understand it well enough to teach it to someone else.”

He does that now

…but not because I said it.

When did it click? When he met a fellow student that couldn’t understand why anyone would study just to get a good grade. This young man views college as an opportunity to really learn and pushes himself to do so! His example inspired my son to do the same!

Big A now practices the time management principles that we taught him. Because we advised him to?…


He suddenly saw the light last quarter when 19.5 units of physics, chemistry, calculus, computer science, English and business threatened to overwhelm him.

He now uses an outline to organize his thoughts when writing a paper. Because we encouraged him for years and years to do so?


It took a few less than stellar papers in his first college English class to convince him that we might know what we were talking about.

I have learned how to bite my tongue when he tells me of his latest “realization”. Inside, I think, “That is exactly what I have been telling you!”

But, my inner adult rises up and I realize that it really doesn’t matter who said it. What matters is that he learned it!

So, now we head off into the dark night of the unknown. Will the school continue to give him grant money? The coach wrote a letter of recommendation last year. I don’t get the feeling that he will do that again this year.

Where will it take us? I don’t really know. We will go through it together.

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