SALINA, Kan. -- SALINA, Kan. - Colonel David Fallon, the 9th Marine Corps District commanding officer, spoke to local Kansas wrestling coaches during the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s (NWCA) Leadership Academy here, Oct. 6, to draw the similarities between a Marine and a wrestler.
In November 2016, the Marine Corps expanded its marketing efforts into the wrestling world to locate and recruit men and women who the Marine Corps believes will be successful in all military occupational specialties, according to an article on the Marine Corps Recruiting Command website in 2016.
The challenges wrestlers face on the mat are all too familiar to Marines, who overcome challenges not only on the battlefield, but in any environment. Fallon sought to convey that message at the leadership academy.
“We, like you, are concerned with two things.” said Fallon. “It’s not just about success on the mat, it’s about personal and professional development. We’re equally concerned with developing better citizens.”
He went on to explain how the Marine Corps’ “ready to fight” mentality ties in with the attitude of a wrestler.
“When you’re on the mat, there’s nowhere to run or hide, it’s just you and the guy standing across from you and you have to be ready to take him head on,” said Fallon. For the next 30 minutes, Fallon tied in Marine Corps traits of leadership and mentorship to how coaches can employ the same traits with their wrestlers.
“It was a great class that I was able to take away a lot from," said Aaron Haselwood, a wrestling coach with Fredonia High School. “There are a lot of shared traits that we instill the same way Marine Corps instills in its young Marines.”
“You’re changed as a wrestler, your DNA changes, you’re changed as a Marine as well, and that change is forever,” said Fallon. “There’s a transformation that occurs and our similar values manifest themselves and then eventually play themselves out over time.”
The incredible degree of adversity – both physical and mental – a wrestler faces is unlike any other in sporting competition. It is not, however, unfamiliar to Marines.
“There is an outstanding overlap between the Marine Corps and wrestling,” said Nate Naasz, Lincoln High School athletic director. “The amount of commitment and attention to detail that Marines put into training mirrors the intensity and drive that wrestlers must endure in order to prepare for a match.”
Through its partnership with the USAW, the Marine Corps hopes to further communicate the message of shared values and establish a strong connection to the youth of our nation.