Lauds Hall of Famer Mike Morris' 'humility'
Published 7:34 pm, Wednesday, June 2, 2010
To the Editor:
For years, these two gentlemen have been good friends of wrestling, in general, and New Milford wrestling, in particular. The article was very good and recalled Mike's great coaching and refereeing career.
There is, however, an additional aspect to the personality of Mike Morris. He cares.
Mike established the concept of "a wrestling program." He developed rigorous conditioning exercises, wrestling move exercises and an expectation of the highest level of performance at all times. He set the bar very high.
For years, Danbury High was the only team that reached that bar but the bar being there drove everyone else.
We owe Mike and Danbury thanks for that because that is why the level of wrestling in Connecticut has improved to the level it is today. He did it while demanding respect for the sport and all those who participated in it. He demanded commitment, dedication, honesty and hard work. He developed character.
Mike was and will ever be a teacher, a mentor, a role model.
When my son started wrestling for New Milford in 1989, I knew absolutely nothing about wrestling. But I attended all the matches, asked questions and watched. It was clear that Mike Morris, who was refereeing at that time, was always teaching.
He made everyone, friend or foe of Danbury, better. He would rather move a wrestler's arm a little to make the hold not dangerous than blow the whistle: protecting the wrestlers, teaching them but not interfering with the flow of the match.
He did not have to tell people to respect him but they all did because of how he acted and treated them. I befriended him and asked him incessant questions. He never took umbrage and always had time to answer. He taught me an incredible amount about wrestling but, more importantly, about being a good person, a leader, a mentor as he was.
He cared about the sport, the coaches, the wrestlers, the parents and the rules. It was always for someone else, never about himself.
As I helped keep the stats for New Milford wrestling and we watched as everyone chased Danbury, my wife, Neen, and I became convinced that New Milford needed a feeder program.
So we founded the New Milford Wrestling Association to start the process and who was right there to help -- Mike Morris. He convinced us to start both an elementary and middle school program. With Mike, it is always total commitment and full steam ahead.
He served as technical advisor, coach and refereed matches pro bono to help the program.
One overriding characteristics of Mike and nearly all of the this year's other inductees to the national wrestling Hall of Fame is humility and a conviction they received more than they gave.
Neen and I are happy he was inducted into the Hall of Fame because he earned it.
We thank his wife, Mary, who supported and encouraged him all these years.
We are really grateful we have had the opportunity to meet and know him. He is one of the finest men we have ever met.
Dr. Erich Doubek