John Graf, the wrestling coach at Morgan Middle School in Ellensburg, Wash., was asked by another school to arrange a match between one of his wrestlers and a student with cognitive and physical disabilities. The student had served as a team manager, but would now get the chance to wrestle in a real match. Because the student couldn’t meet the sport’s physical rigors, his opponent needed to be someone who could assure his safety and dignity. Graf asked Connor Sherwood, an eighth grader, to take the assignment – with the understanding that Connor would win the match. In the opening minutes, Connor took it slow, trading control with his opponent and allowing him to execute his moves. As the match progressed, Connor kept the score close. Toward the end, he kept an eye on the clock ensuring that the opponent would score a 9-8 victory. Connor, who had lost only twice all season, showed amazing maturity and selflessness, and forever changed another person’s life.
Coach Graf and Connor are being recognized by the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance and the St. Louis Sports Commission.