By: Taylor Christie
The year was 1981. The Robinson High School gym in Fairfax, Virginia was packed with eager high school wrestlers waiting for their chance to compete for a state championship title. This day would change the lives of many wrestlers in that room, one of which was William Christie Sr. He would end up winning his state-finals match 9-4. As Christie later explained, “I knew the kid was really good on bottom and he had beat the #1 seed in the semi finals with 2 five-point moves from bottom”. Using this knowledge Christie continued to take his opponent down and let him up, not letting him do anything from bottom. The match ended with 4 takedowns and an escape for the total of Christie’s 9 points and his opponents 4 points were all from escapes he let him have. Christie would end up wrestling for UNC Chapel Hill the following year; “I committed to wrestling for UNC April of my senior year”.
Flash forward to February 27, 2016 at Anderson Civics Center in South Carolina. Thirty-five years later and a different state, but not much is different. Once again it was a packed house, full of more eager high school wrestlers hoping to become a state champion. For one wrestler in particular, and a special coach by his side, that dream did come true. William Christie Jr., wrestling at 160, became a state champion with his father William Christie Sr. by his side. Only a Sophomore in high school now, William Christie Jr. is already carrying on the “Christie” wrestling legacy and he has a bright future ahead of him in the wrestling world.
Having a father by your side who was so successful in the wrestling world has had an immense impact on Christie Jr.’s wrestling experience so far. But, what has made the biggest impact was also having his father as his coach. As with any other sport, having your dad as a coach and coaching your son comes with many difficulties. One difficulty that Christie Jr. went into further detail about is the constant critique and discussion about wrestling. When you are the coach’s son, it always seems like he is harder on you than the other athletes. As Billy explained, “He always seems to push me harder than the other wrestlers, later on I realize it is because he sees so much potential in me and he wants me to be the best, but in the moment it can be tough”.
On the other hand, there are also struggles faced when you are coaching your son. As Christie Sr. mentioned, the number one struggle he faces is watching his son wrestle. Coaching any other kid, he had never been nervous, but now he gets more nervous when his son wrestles than back in the day when he would wrestle himself. As Christie Sr. stated, “I used to get nervous right before my matches, but the second it started the ‘butterflies’ would go away”. When it comes to coaching his son, he is nervous the whole match no matter who his son is wrestling:
“I think because I have seen ‘every’ mistake he has ever made in wrestling and it is such a mental sport that I get nervous that he may not be mentally prepared to wrestle his best. Plus, as one that has seen many (including myself) get ‘caught’ in a move and lost to someone you shouldn’t, it worries me that something like that can happen to him in a split second.”
The second struggle Coach Christie mentioned went along with the struggle that his son pointed out; he expects much more from his son than any other kid he coaches: “I expect him to wrestle his best each time he walks onto the mat and I realize that is not a fair expectation to put on my son” .
Even though there may be struggles, there are also benefits of having your dad as a coach. Two in particular that Christie Jr. highlighted are all the connections his dad has in the wrestling world and then also having the opportunity to have him personally train him. Coach Christie went into further detail about what this training entails,
“In season training I focused on rigorous attention to technique and equally rigorous attention to conditioning. You have to have the best technique to execute your offense or counter your opponent’s offense and technique always wins unless you are not in better conditioned shape than your opponent. In off season, training is more focused on building strength and increasing his technical repertoire”.
Being only a sophomore now, and already winning a state championship, there is no doubt that Christie Jr. is going to make it far in the wrestling world-just like his father.
Christie Sr. also pointed out a specific benefit in particular of having the opportunity to coach his son in wrestling all these years: “I would not call it ‘pride’ because I know how proud I am of him regardless of whether he wins or loses, but rather the joy of knowing how happy he is when he wins a great match”. Coach Christie explained to his son earlier this year, when he knew he would contend for the state title, why he wanted this championship win for his son; “I told him that I know how good the feeling is when you accomplish it, because I was in his exact shoes back in the day, and I told him that is why I wanted this so bad for him”.
Back when Christie Sr. would wrestle in high school, his own dad knew very little about wrestling. His dad was actually a Hall of Fame baseball coach, winning two state championships and having over a dozen kids go on to play in the major leagues. But as Coach Christie pointed out, the fact that his dad was a coach, and a great coach, he still always pushed Christie Sr. to be better than anyone else, by working harder than anyone else. His dad even transferred him to another high school at the end of his sophomore year to a school with a great wrestling coach when his own dad thought he could not get any better with the coaching he had at his high school.
When comparing his state championship to that of his son’s Coach Christie has told close friends and family that he got 100 times more joy out of his son winning than back in the day when he won states. He said there are two reasons for this,
“First the state championship was always my goal and had I not won I would have been very disappointed; so it was something I basically expected to win. Second, I was a senior when I won, Billy did this as a sophomore which is very rare and he has the opportunity to win two or three state titles which is even rarer”.
Most wrestlers, like Coach Christie was, are seniors when they finally win a state championship. This also means that most wrestlers only win one state championship, if that, in their high school career for wrestling. This is illustrated by the state qualifier rankings that were released before the tournament; not only was Christie Jr. ranked number one, but he was the only sophomore out of the eight state qualifiers. One of the other seven was a junior and the rest were all seniors
Christie Jr. sees the same future as his father sees for his son when he thinks about his wrestling career. “I want to be a three-time state champion and possibly an All American/National placer”. He already knows that he will want to wrestle in college and as of now is looking at all colleges in the south that are either D1 or D2. This past season changed his view on wrestling because he realized that he has the skills and the opportunity to be one of the most well-known names of Hilton Head and South Carolina wrestling. Also being a varsity lacrosse player at his high school, there is something so special when it comes to wrestling. As Christie Jr. pointed out, “there’s not that ‘one guy’ that can mess everything up when it comes to wrestling, it’s just me. I have so much more control over the outcome in wrestling than with other sports like lacrosse that are more of a team sport.”
As his father mentioned, if Christie Jr. works hard enough he can definitely win one or two more state championships and achieve a college wrestling scholarship: “He has a great foundation, but to wrestle at the collegiate level he will have to improve his technique, strength, conditioning and mental psyche”. Coach Christie pointed out that if his son thinks he does not have to work harder than anyone else because he has success already, he won’t be able to achieve this because someone else will be working harder than him. Although it has been more than a month from the day Christie Jr. won his state championship, his father still looks back at the pictures of his son hugging him after he won.
“In the midst of that hug he said ‘thank you dad’. There is no greater joy for a father than to have one of your kids achieve something important in their life and appreciate the effort you put forth for them to achieve their goal”.