Feature Articles

Wrestling Stories: Rider’s Donald McNeil

People think of wrestlers as guys in masks with folding chairs or guys with gross ears rolling around in spandex. Wrestling Stories aims to change this perception.

The Beginning

Tired of everything thinking wrestlers were crazy, Sam Shames–then a sophomore wrestling at MIT–began writing about the benefits of wrestling as an attempt to help people see past the cauliflower ear and discover the life-lessons and values the sport teaches. Sam believed that by sharing the story of how wrestling impacted him, he could help people understand why someone would wrestle, and in doing so help give back to and promote the sport. From that  project, Wrestling Stories emerged  as a platform for anyone to learn what it means to be a wrestler, for wrestlers to inspire others with stories of triumph and dedication, and for everyone to celebrate the life lessons and spirit of the world’s oldest sport.

Why Stories?

People define themselves through the stories they tell, and stories are the best way to connect emotionally with other people. A well-told story engages, challenges, and inspires the reader in a way that an essay or argument cannot. By sharing the stories wrestling has shaped our lives, we offer a first-person look at what it means to be a wrestler and how it shapes our lives. Stories persuade people to change their perspective, and we can use stories to change the perception of wrestling. By sharing the story of how wrestling inspired us, we can inspire others. Stories are also interesting because their meaning can change over time. The story of a wrestler writes about his career in high school takes on a whole new meaning four, ten, or forty years later. Wrestling Stories aims to collect stories from wrestlers at all stages of their careers and lives, as well as stories from wrestlers at multiple points. Doing so offers new perspectives in how the values of wrestling endure and change with time, and provides new insights into what makes someone a wrestler long after they step off the mat.

Ready to read? Check out Rider’s Donald McNeil’s personal statement. McNeil is an athlete who overcame a broken neck in high school to wrestle in college … then had his program dropped. 

Find more about WrestlingStories at WrestlingStories.org

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