Eric Monday passed away on July 26, 2009. He was 21 years old. During his remarkable short life wrestling played an integral role in his personal development and achievement.
Eric started wrestling in the 5th grade. He entered the sport undersized, with no dominant athletic attributes and like many others before him, he did not have immediate success. What he did possess and was recognized by a coach early on is the “heart of a lion”. Rather he learned from each loss - even the embarrassing ones. He continued to work hard inside and outside of practice. He learned that discipline, sacrifice and humility yields success. It took Eric several years but he ultimately learned that winning was contagious and became a dominant High School Wrestler at Madison High School and continued to his college career at Washington and Jefferson College. It was there Eric came within one win of the all-time winning record for the school in his only full season. Perseverance and pride!
What was not known by most was that Eric was also fighting through an early diagnosis of depression. This was the quiet hidden side that was not discussed for fear of stigma. The quiet drain that impacted every day.
Despite his personal challenge Eric devoted a huge amount of his time and energy helping to bring along others – especially other wrestlers. Dealing with his own challenges, he naturally recognized others facing challenges. He encouraged and recognized others working hard, and sought to make them feel better about their progress (and pick them up from their defeats!). He was the one that pushed others to join him in pushing themselves both in practice and in the offseason to get better. He was the one that pulled others into the sport and cajoled them to stay motivated in the sport. Eric loved wrestling.
Wrestling is the ultimate sport about building personal character. Wrestling is a sport that depends on long term development, refinement of technique, discipline and mental toughness. Continuous training is essential in a wrestler’s development -working with the most intense coaching of technique and the development of mental and physical perseverance. As Dan Gable once said “After wrestling, everything else is easy.”
Eric would want this commitment to discipline, personal development, hard work and sacrifice to be perpetuated as it greatly helped him develop personally and athletically. His commitment to bringing along others was non-negotiable. Fostering these traits, and working to break down the barriers and stigma of depression is a fitting legacy.