Darrel Lauderdale can remember the day that wrestling got a hold of him.
“Somebody told me a long time ago that once you’re in wrestling it gets in your blood and it’s true, it gets in your blood.”
He was a sophomore in high school when he was introduced to the sport.
“I was walking by the wrestling room and the heavy weight wrestler grabbed me, pulled me in the room and started beating on me a little bit, “he says. “That’s how I got involved in wrestling for the first time.”
Years later he picked up the title of coach. He helped his dad who was the head wrestling coach at Austin East, then he went back to his alma mater, Seymour High School, to teach and coach football.
“The wrestling coach there asked me if I would help him out and I said, sure.”
After a couple of years he became the head wrestling coach. His team finished in the state top ten numerous times and two of his athletes became state champs. Now, Coach Lauderdale is the southeastern director for AAU wrestling. These days he’s devoting his time to raising up young athletes to compete in the sport.
“Twelve, thirteen years ago when I became the director of AAU wrestling we had like two AAU wrestlers statewide, “Lauderdale says. “Now, we’re up around if not over 4,000 youth wrestlers competing in AAU wrestling here and all of that’s feeding the high schools.”
Coach Lauderdale says he’s passionate about the sport because it teaches life skills.
“In wrestling whether you win or lose and how well you do is strictly up to you, “he says. “That one on one competition can help bring out the best in you.”
Those are lessons that he wants to instill in his athletes, not what you see on TV in the world of “entertainment “wrestling.
“We get kids who come out for wrestling and they want to know where the ring is at, where the metal chair is at, “Lauderdale says. “On the flip side of that, UFC the Ultimate Fighting MMA, I think has been a good thing for wrestling because most of your successful guys in that sport have an amateur wrestling background, “he says.
After years of dedication to coaching wrestling, Lauderdale is being honored as an inductee into the Tennessee Wrestling Hall of Fame.
“It’s a huge huge honor, the more I think about it the more overwhelmed I get, “he says. “I would like to hope what I’m doing has had a positive impact on the sport of wrestling, helped spur the growth of wrestling in Tennessee and in the southeast, “Lauderdale says.
Lauderdale says he’s grateful that he still keeps in touch with the athletes he’s coached over the years. The “Hall of Fame Day “banquet is October 9 at the Crowne Plaza Knoxville.
– LaSaundra Brown