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Reasbeck writes Near Fall book series to encourage kids to wrestle



Joe Reasbeck of Lago Vista, Texas has been rolling around on mats since he was only two years old. Reasbeck, who grew up in Wisconsin, followed in the footsteps of his father, also named Joe, who coached the sport for several decades. As a competitor, the elder Joe won many National Titles, and recently wrestled in the Veterans Nationals. It was only natural that Joe, the son, follow in his fathers' footsteps.

The younger Joe wrestled for the University of Minnesota, competed on the Senior level in Greco-Roman and trained for the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games in Greco-Roman wrestling. He is now a published author, with the subject of his writing his favorite sport.

Standel Publishing recently published and released the first of the four-book series by Reasbeck called NearFall: Book One-- The Adventures of Matt and Mike.

Joe was inspired to write this series to try to raise awareness of the sport as well as promote wrestling by weaving a compelling story about life and grappling. He would love to make this fictional novel, NearFall, an entertainment channel to reach kids, parents and coaches around the world.

Reasbeck has high hopes that this book will become a "recruiting tool for coaches."

Joe Reasbeck's career in wrestling has not gone unnoticed in his writing. He went through many highs and lows as a competitive wrestler, but through it all his love for the sport never wavered.

"I have the deepest respect for this sport. I participated in every sport I could get my hands on. However, there is something very different about going out on a mat in front of family, friends, girlfriends, teammates, coaches and even strangers--all by yourself and facing an opponent that is equally matched to you and looking to dismantle you. The combination of the mastery of technique, athleticism, strategy, toughness and extreme endurance puts wrestling on top of the podium of athletic endeavor. Wrestlers truly are warriors." Reasbeck said.

Joe had many different injuries and operations in college, mostly knee surgeries, thus he gravitated towards Greco-Roman as to not have to worry about leg attacks.

As Reasbeck was training for the 1992 Olympics, a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery chased him into retirement. Retirement did not last long for this passionate wrestler. Just 14 months later, Joe was invited to train with some of the best wrestlers in the country and decided to "unretire." The lure of making another push for the Olympics was just too much to resist.

Once out of retirement, Joe began training in Southern California with the California Jets. Two- time Olympian Dan Henderson and 2000 Olympian Heath Sims became Joe's daily work-out partners. From there, he moved to the U.S. Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo. in 1994.

Joe competed in tournaments in Greece and Finland in March of 1995 and while wrestling against a Russian opponent, he defended an attempted throw and once again shredded his shoulder.

Back in Southern California for yet another operation, Reasbeck rehabbed and attempted to comeback in time for U.S. Nationals. However, he returned to training earlier than his surgeon recommended, and he blew out his shoulder for the fourth time. This time the retirement was permanent.

"The biggest thing wrestling has taught me is persistence. I had been knocked down so many times from opponents, injuries, and internal struggles that I came to realize that wrestling teaches you 'whatever life throws at you, you can handle.' You learn to roll with the punches and discover that certain perseverance wrestling teaches you. I don't think that is unique to me, I think it is symptomatic of wrestling. Wrestlers are a mentally tough bunch." Joe explains.

For Reasbeck, writing this series has produced experiences similar to the process of training for a major tournament.

"You have this big objective and along the way there are ups and downs. Wrestling taught me to try not to get too high or too low," said Reasbeck.

"You may have high expectations of yourself, and then you get annihilated," explained Reasbeck. "You are constantly re-evaluating who you are, both as a wrestler and person. You look at your preparation, your training, your technique and you make adjustments. You have to maintain an even keel and keep plugging away."

Reasbeck's enthusiasm for wrestling pours out of him. He feels that wrestling builds character and fosters a unique passion.

"There is a bond amongst wrestlers, an instant respect," he said.

He notes that wrestlers also tend to become quite confident because of the work it has taken them to become successful. Whether one is skilled or just beginning, Reasbeck feels as though one can always learn from his or her wrestling experiences.

"As a coach, you talk a lot about the elite athletes, but the courage and faith that a kid demonstrates when he knows he's outclassed, and walks out to the center of the mat anyhow--that's really intriguing to me. I have a lot of respect for those kids, even more so at times than I have for the elite athletes," said Reasbeck.

"I really applaud them for taking that step into the arena and doing their absolute best. Those who stick with it improve and eventually wind up being the person with their hand raised…but more importantly, they know how they got there. They understand the price that had to be paid. I think that translates well for the rest of their life," he said.

Reasbeck's objective was to not only gear this book towards the wrestling community, but expand wrestling's appeal to people who are not currently connected to the sport. He wants to see wrestling grow and become more entertainment-based.

"As a community, we need to learn to compete with every other form of entertainment. The same drive that we have to excel within our sport needs to be directed toward building our audience."

Already, Joe has received wonderful responses from wrestlers, coaches, and other adults. A 63-year old woman, who had never seen a wrestling match in her entire life, decided upon reading the book that she will now go to watch the local high school in her hometown.

A coach from Lawrence, Kansas, spoke with Reasbeck regarding NearFall after reading the book. This retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, who now coaches a club team, was so thrilled with this novel that he plans to incorporate it into his program. Each member of the club will now write a book report on NearFall.

The most gratifying emails have come from the kids themselves. A 16-year-old boy, in particular, wrote to Joe that he had never finished a book before until Nearfall.

"To hear that as a parent, a coach and a writer is especially rewarding,:said Reasbeck. Reading is so important to a child's future success, it's imperative to find material that will resonate for kids. For young wrestlers, there is going to be a lot of appeal in a story that champions their sport. What could be better preparation for life than wrestling and reading?"

Reasbeck hopes that the book will help the audience to become not only good wrestlers, but more importantly, good people.

"NearFall's appeal is the winning combination of the underdog and sport. In this book, whatever problems are encountered, wrestling is always part of the solution. Nearfall relates to many of the difficulties of growing up and the challenges that families endure," Reasbeck states. "Ultimately, my goal is to create a sizeable audience by the time the fourth book is released, so we can have the adventures of Matt and Mike comes to life on the big screen."

,"This is the type of promotion we'd like to see more of," said Tony Black Manager of Grassroots Development for USA Wrestling. "If NearFall could find its way into the hands of every kid in the country we could have an explosion of people joining our sport."

That's a result we can all get behind.
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