Thursday, March 26, 2015

Helping Those Who Can Do Nothing For You

Tom Ryan and the Ohio State Buckeyes won the NCAA Wrestling Championship this past weekend, the first team title in the program's history.  I have lived in Ohio for the better part of 20 years, but grew up in Pennsylvania, and because of family ties, have been a devoted Notre Dame fan my entire life.  I am one of the few people in Ohio who is not a die hard Buckeye fan (if you've been to Ohio you know I am not exaggerating). However, I am a fan of the Ohio State Wrestling program because I am a huge fan of their head coach, Tom Ryan.

Several years ago, when I was coaching wrestling, there was a young boy in our youth program who suffered a very serious injury on his farm.  The wrestling community is very tight knit and I immediately began sending emails to various college coaches to see if they could send this young man a t-shirt, poster, or just a note of encouragement.  I cannot think of anyone who did not respond affirming they would send something.

My interaction with Tom Ryan was far different.  Five minutes after I had hit send, I had a response from the head coach of the Buckeyes.  Here was his response, "Ryan, here is my cell phone number, call me." Not "Hey send me an email with more details" or "Give my secretary a call."  Rather, "Call me."

The next day, Tom Ryan, assistant coach Lou Rosselli and defending NCAA champion J. Jaggers all went to Nationwide Children's Hospital to spend some time with this kid, a kid they had never met, a kid whose only tie to them was the sport of wrestling.  If you are not from Ohio or familiar with wrestling, this would be like Bill Belichick bringing Tom Brady.

National Titles do not happen by luck or come easy.  Almost always, the team has a great leader and one of the traits of a great leader is the amazing way they treat people who can never do anything for them in return.  There was nothing I could do at that time that was going to be of any benefit to Tom Ryan or the Ohio State wrestling program.  Yet he and two others from his program spent some time with a kid because it was the right thing to do.

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