"Tell me something: are those NFL players tough?"
That was the question that the great Pat Pecora, Carlton Haselrig’s collegiate coach asked him.
Naw. They’re not tough. Those 125 lb college wrestlers - Those guys are Tough.
Carlton would know. Haselrig, drafted in the 12th round of the 1989 draft, despite having not played football since high school (Pitt-Johnstown doesn't sponsor a football team), developed into an all-pro guard for the Steelers, following a stellar, record-shattering collegiate wrestling career at University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, where he won an unmatched 6 national championships – 3 in Division 2, and 3 in Division 1.
Before 1990, Division 2 and Division 3 champions were extended an invitation to compete in the Division 1 national championships.
Haselrig’s success led to the appropriately nicknamed Haselrig rule, which was enacted in 1990. After he won both Division 2 and Division 1 titles- 3 seasons in a row – they changed the rule and rescinded the invitation to D2 and D3 champs. Because of this, his feat can never be matched, unless they change the rule again.
After his collegiate career ended, he was drafted in the 12th round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
When it came time to find an agent, he asked his college coach, Pat Pecora, to represent him.
I need somebody I can trust, he told Pat.
So Pecora, now the winningest wrestling coach in NCAA history, obliged him.
Pat once said this about Carlton Haselrig: God never gives anyone everything.
He was blessed with great athletic ability and work ethic, but cursed with substance abuse, which ultimately ended his football career and occasionally landed him in jail.
It was a sad ending to a brilliant career.
Carlton Haselrig died on July 22. He was 52.
Pat Pecora is an old friend of mine. Long ago, I worked his wrestling camps along with my friend and fellow coach, John. I came to know some excellent people – wrestlers on the UPJ team, coaches from around the area, and some excellent Pennsylvania wrestlers. It was an experience that positively shaped my coaching for years to come.
It was Pecora’s belief that every human being, no matter how great, has built-in strengths and weaknesses. Certainly the sport of wrestling highlights this – nowhere is it more prevalent to wrestle to your strengths and exploit your opponent’s weaknesses.
It is also a fundamental key to finding success in one's life.