Wrestling With Work

Relationship With Coach Builds Character

     Wrestling has been sophomore Merrik Murray’s life; he has been wrestling since he was 6. He’s achieved accomplishments such as placing second at districts and fourth at state as a freshman. He said he struggles with school and being able to focus in class, but his wrestling coach helped him be a better student so he could achieve his goals both as a student and an athlete.

Sophomore Merrik Murray and Coach Elisha Bears (Lily C)

Murray said wrestling coach Elisha Bears helped keep him “sane.”

 “He makes it to where I can do what I do best, and that’s just have fun,” Murray said. “Before every single match, he tells me, ‘Just go have fun.’”

Bears pushed Murray to work hard but at the same time be able to let loose and just do his best and enjoy himself.

 “If I’m having problems outside of wrestling, he’ll sit there and talk to me about it,” Murray said. 

He said Bears even helped him with his success in the classroom.

“I’m not the smartest person in the world, but he’s always making sure I’m staying on top of it,” Murray said. 

He said Bears helped him improve himself as a person and a student, and he had a large impact on who he has become.

“I struggle with school,” Murray said. “I have trouble just sitting there without getting distracted or fidgeting. But Bears helped me out a lot with that.”

Murray said he grew up around Bears. His dad began watching Staley’s wrestling team when the school first opened, and he had gotten close with Bears through the matches. His family got to know bears more over time. Now, Murray and Bears have worked together and been able to create a trusting relationship.

“I’ve known him since he was probably 4 or 5 years old,” Bears said. “When you know someone that long, you definitely have a different type of relationship as opposed to someone you’ve only known for a few months. I think he trusts me, and I trust him.”  

Over the decade they’ve known each other, Bears said he has gotten to see Murray grow into a hard worker who goes for his goals.

“Merrik is a kid who loves wrestling,“ Bears said. “He loves everything about wrestling. He wants to be the best. He trains in wrestling year round. He’s pretty tenacious.” 

While he put time and effort into wrestling, he tried to balance being a good student so that in the future he could accomplish what he wanted to.

 “Being a good student is something he needs to work on, to continually try to get better at and try to stay on top of things,” Bears said. “We actually just talked the other day about his grades and making sure that he’s taking care of those and getting into the colleges and places he wants to be later on.”

While Murray had many other coaches over his lifetime, he said Bears had the biggest impact on him. With Bears’ help with his education, he hoped to have a chance to get into his dream school.

“Next season, I want to be on the top,” Murray said. “I am hoping for at least a 3.5 GPA. I want to be getting recruited by the biggest D1 colleges I can. I want to be recruited by my dream school, Penn State. They’ve got the best wrestling program.”

He said one of his idols coaches there.

“Cael Sanderson is the head coach there, and he’s been one of my idols in wrestling for a really long time,” Murray said.

Murray said he would continue working with Bears and do his best to keep his grades up so he could go to his dream school and work with the coach that he idolized.

 “I want to be on the top. I got nothing holding me back,” Murray said. “I mean, whether I’m injured or not, there should be nothing that stops me with that.”  

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