Coach Tony Miller's Spring Grove wrestling program has long succeeded on the mat.
The Rockets are a traditional York-Adams League power, with nine Division I titles since 2008,
Miller, however, is concerned with more than just wins and losses. He also puts his efforts behind worthy causes that benefit the school district and community.
The Rockets regularly host a night of wrestling to raise funds for worthy causes, such as Take Down Cancer, the battle against ALS and others. Those benefits are always among the most supported efforts by the fans, wrestlers and parents throughout the district.
Miller and his program added another cause to its crusade this season. The team hosted a "Crush the Stigma" event that coincided with the squad’s first league dual match of the season against Red Lion on Thursday, Dec. 14. The wrestlers, cheerleaders and fans all wore green shirts promoted by the school’s Aevidum Club to raise awareness of mental health issues during the team’s 52-18 victory over the Lions.
“Our school has a new club that deals with youth and mental health and stuff that reaches out to all kids that may be struggling with depression and things like that,” Miller said. “And Shannon (Engles) came to me and asked what I thought about having a Green Out Night for wrestling. And I said that it’s a great idea. You know Take Down Cancer has always been our main cause, and last year we helped out with ALS, and this year it just seems like this really worked out.”
Passionate supporter: Engles is passionate in her efforts to bring awareness and openness to the causes of mental illness. She cited reports that state that mental illness impacts nearly four out of every five Americans.
“We recognize that mental illness is just something that is on the rise,” she said. “And kids are having a hard time with it because it is something that is really tough to talk about. And it really does need to be talked about.”
Engles hopes that the shirts worn are just the first step in leading to a greater acceptance of the issue. Those shirts featured a picture of two fists coming together which, in a sense, crushed the word ‘STIGMA’ that was in between. On the back of the shirts was the motto "Wrestling for Mental Wellness."
“The other day we had a group of students and I pointed out that one kid had a broken arm,” she said. “And I said ‘it’s not a big deal that you have a broken arm, but what if I said that I have depression?’ It’s easy to turn your head to that and it’s not something that is easy to talk about.”
Like many other districts in the county, Spring Grove has been impacted by the repercussions of mental health problems. Suicide can often become the tragic result when mental health issues are left unnoticed and untreated.
Getting conversation started: That’s something that both Miller and Engles are hoping to prevent by working together for the cause.
“A lot of people still don’t even know what the warning signs for it are,” Engles said. “And that’s what we’re doing, trying to get that conversation started.”
For Engles, the cause is more than just about her desire to help others. She, too, admits to suffering from some mental wellness issues.
“I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety and it’s something that I can successfully manage,” Engles said. “And it’s that effect, that someone who is seemingly ‘normal’ and is dealing with it and has it together and can live a somewhat OK life, that it’s OK to talk about it. And that could lead a kid to think ‘maybe I’m not the only one’.”
If that is the message that everyone who walked away from Thursday’s contest takes away from it, that’s a big ‘W’ according to Miller.
“This is really something that affects everyone in a different way,” Miller said. “And, for our kids, sure wrestling is important, but there’s a lot of bigger things in life.”
The match: As for the match, the Rockets dominated behind pins from Dalton Rohrbaugh (126), Clay Baker (132), Jake Meyer (138), Anthony Hinson (160) and Ryan Miller (195).
Biglerville 56, York Tech 9: At Biglerville, the Canners received pins from Josh Southerly (182), Nick Wright (195), Brent Hayes (220), Blake Showers (106), Will Davis (132), Josh Tuckey (138) and Charles Galaspy (145).
Kennard-Dale 47, York Suburban 30: At Suburban, the Rams got pins from Cameron Miller (152), Daniel Eagle (170) and Tanner Harkins (285). Suburban's pins came from Dylan Leik (106), Lucas Miller (138) and Andrew Frey (195). The Rams had a 4-1 edge in forfeited matches, which proved to be the difference in the match.
Eastern York 37, Dover 31: At Wrightsville, Eastern York received four forfeits and got a pin from Carl Carbaugh Jr. at 220 pounds and a major decision from Zachary Dice at 138 pounds. Dover got four pins from Bradyn Yerges (113), Matthew Rodriguez (126), Brandon Lawyer (195) and Jarrod Love (285).
South Western 41, Northeastern 39: At Manchester, the Mustangs narrowly defeated the Bobcats in the Division I match after getting a forfeit in the final bout of the night at 106 pounds to win by two. South Western got pins from Adam Leib (132), Ethan Baney (160) and Cole Stremmel (195), along with three forfeits. Northeastern’s Tom Gradwell (113), Cole Wilson (120), Caleb Zahm (145), John Kemper (152) and Marco Marienz (182) secured pins in the match.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.