Culture Is Crucial in Sports


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

The aforementioned quote is a favorite of Memorial Wrestling Coach Brent Holtrop. He cites the quotes zest for accountability, the fact that the quote evokes activism, not laziness, in the spectator – however, if no action is taken, the timid soul won’t know what it takes to succeed, and should therefore have no say. This quote speaks volumes of who Coach Holtrop is. He’s charismatic, active, proud, competitive, and so much more. And overall, it plays into the theme Coach Holtrop reiterated time and time again: culture.

Wrestling is a sport many are too shy to play. But according to Coach Holtrop, it builds your character – that’s the culture he’s striving to build – he wants his wrestlers to reflect these traits in themselves. “Wrestling is about facing down adversity, it’s about applying mental toughness in life, body awareness, and outside the box thinking” said Coach Holtrop, “Our group was instilled with these qualities.”

Coach Holtrop does more than motivate his wrestlers, though. He’s known for his unique workouts, such as the infamous 9/11 routine. The session consists of a 1402-meter route, and continues with that same intensity, ultimately ending in a 614-meter run. “We want to build off of the school’s culture – share the Warrior traits.” It seems to be a universal goal of his – he wants people to buy into his culture – he wants his kids to be adequately equipped to take on the outside world.

Of course, what good is any of this if the culture of an energetic atmosphere means little? “Culture determines whether, for example, the team’s focus is on fun, improvement, or winning or whether it promotes individual accomplishment or team success,” said professional sports psychologist Jim Taylor. This atmosphere is crucial to creating a team environment and plays into the theme of creating a cohesive culture that everyone can buy into.

Coach Holtrop has taken this to heart. With the culture he has conceived at Memorial High School, he plans on empowering the young men and women throughout his program, and in doing so, strives to give his kids the traits necessary to succeed. “It’s about how you perform as a person.”