by Jim Riggs
February 14, 2004
Double-Meaning Induction For Beichner
Inductions are old hat for Beichner, who is in his ninth season as the head wrestling coach at the University of Buffalo. But his induction Monday night will be something new for the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame. There are 102 inductees in that hall, but in its 23rd year Beichner becomes the first honored for wrestling. So he considers it a double honor, not just for himself, but also for the sport of wrestling.
"I love the fact that whenever wrestling gets recognized, no matter who it is, it's nice that people recognize it for hard work and dedication," he said.
When asked about being in the Cassadaga Valley Hall of Fame, he said, "I don't know if there are any other wrestlers."
And obviously there are only wrestlers in the Eastern Wrestling Hall of Fame, but there are also plenty in the Clarion University Sports Hall of Fame.
"Wrestling is the big sport there," said Beichner, who was a two-time Division I All-American at Clarion at 190 pounds and had a record of 125-22 for third on the all-time list. "A large majority of the athletes who get inducted into that hall of fame are former wrestlers. That's because it's the best sport there. I don't want to say that in an arrogant way, but that's why I went to Clarion University, because it was a very good program."
And he was able to compete at that very good program after winning three straight sectional titles at Cassadaga Valley and compiling a record of 130-18-1 under Coach Cliff Blum.
But it's not surprising Beichner had such success on the mat because he grew up wrestling.
"My brothers started the family tradition of wrestling," he said. "When I grew up I went to wrestling matches and watched my brothers John and Tom compete and it just came naturally. It never occurred to me that I was ever going to do anything but wrestle."
And it helped that his father built a gymnasium in one of his barns. And no one could have been happier than Beichner's mother, who cringed while watching her sons wrestle in the house.
"I grew up in a family of 11 and most of us were boys and we broke lots of furniture," he said. "I don't know how my mom put up with us. We constantly wrestled."
"Wrestling happens everywhere and it's the most natural sport in the world," he said. "It's been around forever. Everybody at one point or another has wrestled."
So why aren't there more young people involved in wrestling?
"Wrestling is a very difficult sport and it's misunderstood because it's so difficult," Beichner said. "This is a very tough sport and it takes more than a little bit of dedication. It takes a lot of dedication and in today's day and age there are too many easy things to do out there."
Like most people involved in the sport, Beichner gets upset when he sees so much publicity given to "wrassling," that exhibition on television that passes itself off as wrestling.
"I probably get more frustrated with adults who watch it than kids," he said. "Kids are a little more vulnerable. Personally, I dislike that entertainment. I don't even call it a sport. I dislike it immensely because of all the things they sell are the complete opposite of what wrestling sells - sportsmanship, shaking hands beforehand, shaking hands afterwards, being a gentleman, and following the rules. All of those things that are positive in the sport of wrestling are not in that."
Beichner's own family is a bit smaller than the one he grew up in. He and his wife, Diane, have three children, two boys and a girl. So obviously the boys are involved in wrestling, right?
Well, sort of.
"They go to clinics and camps and they're just showing an interest in wrestling," Beichner said. "But I'm intentionally not putting them into any competitive situations until they ask me. It's not a sport for everybody and if you force them to compete earlier than they want to, they'll be driven away from the sport."
And Beichner doesn't want that to happen because he thinks it is one of the greatest sports. That's why he looks at Monday night as a double induction. He's not only being recognized, but wrestling is, too.