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(image courtesy

(image courtesy

When you join a local gym in Oregon, the first thing you notice are shirts and sweats bearing college names.

There’s always a USC t-shirt, or Husky hoodie, besides every variation on Oregon Duck gear and Oregon State Beaver status symbols.

How come no one challenges the other-than-Oregon sports fan wearing their favorite colors?

Blame the Oregon Trail. Non-native Oregonians all came from somewhere else in the beginning and tolerance continues. Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and banners from the other forty-five states are welcome here because they’ve found Oregon.

“Wear what you want,” is the silent message. They know Oregon is better than where they came from or they wouldn’t be here.

Imagine the relief of spotting a man wearing a Clackamas Community College Wrestling shirt going through his workout. Finally someone who gets it, who represents not only the end of the Oregon Trail in Oregon City where the ‘Father of Oregon‘ Dr. John McLoughlin settled, but also a sport that builds the sort of character needed to cross the plains in a covered wagon.

Even though wrestling is one of the world’s oldest sports, it still draws pioneers to the mat searching for a better life. Who better to guide them than Professor Erich Pfeifer, the man in the CCC Wrestling shirt.

All college athletes, and former college athletes, know someone like Professor Pfeifer. As a friend, mentor, and someone who knows the academic ropes, Pfeifer helps athletes adjust to the demands of sports and higher education. He’s the go-to guy for young competitors looking to stick in school and move onto a bigger stage.

Who do they call with class problems, grade problems, or administrative problems? Who makes an effort in the classroom as well as teaching his students what it means to give back? Erich Pfeifer.

Athletes enrolled in community colleges come from varied backgrounds, but share one trait in common: they need to keep their GPA up to remain eligible, as well as show four year colleges they are a low risk recruit at the next level. CCC Wrestling lays the foundation year after year with Coach Josh Rhoden and his staff. This year they finished third in the nation with champions Trent Noon and Jacob Mitchell, runner-up Beau Roberts, and all-Americans CJ Palmer and Sage Ornelas.

With help from teachers like Erich Pfeifer, expect the Cougars to hit the top again. This is his message to high school athletes interested in taking the next step:

“The sooner you “wake up” to the relationship that academics has with athletics (eligibility/recruiting attention/retention) and your future life (quality of life/standard of living) the sooner you can begin developing the fundamentals that you will need, academically, to make your dreams come true. Most athletes love their sport more than the classroom. Understandable. But without the classroom, you can lose your sport (or the ability to compete “at the right level”) forever. Pay the price in the classroom and then you will truly be free to chase your dreams athletically.”

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About David Gillaspie
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