Wrestling's really got hold on Hammond's Motley

December 20, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Hammond senior John Motley says he has learned at least one important lesson as a result of his wrestling involvement.

"Things don't always go your way, but that's no reason to quit or let down," said the defending county champion, who hopes to become a state champion this season.

Starting as a 5-year-old, Motley dreamed of being a high school basketball star.

"I went to summer camps and played it all the time," he said.

But by his freshman year he was only 5 feet 5 and was released from Hammond's team on the first cut.

Encouraged by wrestling coach Bill Smith, who saw in Motley the kind of aggressive attitude he wanted, Motley joined the wrestling team and it proved to be a perfect match.

"Wrestling has been the best thing to happen to me," Motley said. "It gives me pride. Wrestling is so powerful it gets down inside you. People who don't wrestle can't understand why you can cry after a match or why we go through bloody three-hour practices. It's all for the glory. It's that feeling you get when your hand is raised."

Motley's hand was raised in victory 27 times last season against five losses. His upset loss in the first round of the regionals last season was his most bitter defeat.

"I was up by one point with 20 seconds left and got taken down," Motley said. His opponent that day was Hernandez Thompson of Dunbar, who is ranked sixth in the state at 135 this season.

Smith didn't expect the defeat to keep Motley down for long. He calls Motley the team's spiritual leader and one of the most self-motivated kids he's ever coached.

"He and Dan Proulx and Dan Ricker were all incredibly self-driven," Smith said. Proulx is Motley's best friend and a team co-captain. Ricker wrestled at Glenelg and formerly coached at Oakland Mills.

Motley, an 18-year-old Huntington resident, rises at 6 a.m. every day and spends an hour in his basement working out on weights before going to school. He often stays late after practice.

His teammates admire him. "He is the man," said heavyweight Pedro "Toke" Barbosa.

At practice, Motley runs the opening half-hour warm-up drill, while Smith maps out the rest of the practice schedule.

"It's like having another coach," Smith said. "He's so much like me in attitude that he's like a son to me."

Motley has grown to 5 feet 7, 130 pounds, and has expanded his repertoire of moves this season. Of his three pins, two were through cradles.

"I don't really look for the headlock anymore unless it's there," he said. "It's good if you need some fast points."

Motley's biggest match so far this season came last Tuesday against Lackey's Keith Wood.

Wood had finished first in the Douglass Tourney and Motley a disappointing fourth. And Motley fell behind 5-1 in the third period before putting a headlock on Wood and pinning him.

His determination isn't the only reason Motley has stepped up this season. Hammond assistant coach Paul DiRienzo encouraged Motley to invest his summer in wrestling, and it's obviously paid off.

"He told me I had the potential to go somewhere," Motley said.

So Motley, Proulx and Chris Williams worked out with the state freestyle team all day Saturdays and Sundays and three nights a week. Motley and Proulx also went to junior nationals in North Dakota in August to take advantage of the tough competition.

Because of last summer's work, Motley is much stronger on his feet and a little closer to his goal of becoming a state champion.

He's come a long way for someone who never wrestled before high school.

"I had always thought wrestling was like that stuff you see on TV," he said.

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