Our Ellis Coleman is going to the 2012 Olympics in London this summer. There isn't a member of the Huksies Wrestling Family who cannot stop smiling just thinking about it.
Beating Joe Betterman in Greco-Roman for the 60-kilogram spot Sunday night in Iowa City, Ellis could feel the love from a large group of former teammates and coaches, along with his mom and big brother, who were there to cheer for one of the nicest young men to ever sport a blue and orange Huskies singlet.
The fact that he won is sweeter because he has had his heart set on the Olympics for years.
My sons, Colin and Brendan, were there, and my oldest son, Weldon called every few hours from Madrid to see how Ellis was faring. No fears. Ellis had this.
At 20, Ellis is the youngest member of the Olympic wrestling team and one of the most successful wrestlers ever in the wrestling room coached by Mike Powell. All of us who watched Ellis' career bloom from 2005-2009 can recall Coach Powell kissing Ellis on the top of the head before each match. And then Ellis would go out and annihilate his opponent.
As a mother who has sometimes called Ellis my fourth son-- and who treasures the Mother's Day cards from him-- I feel about his future the way I would feel about the future of my own boys. He richly deserves all great things. He works hard, believes in himself, and is a great role model for all those around him. He keeps his focus on his dreams and the goals he has for life.
Also in Iowa City this weekend fighting for a trip to the Olympics was Weldon's 2007 OPRF wrestling team co-captain Peter Kowalczuk. His day did not go as planned and hoped, but what an incredible feat to make it to the trials and to do so well for so many years, enjoy so many victories around the world. He wrestled hard. As he always has done. That both Peter and Ellis were in the same Hawkeyes arena vying for a spot at the same time to represent the United States from the Oak Park wrestling room under Coach Powell is astounding.
Nick and Chris Dardanes (OPRF class of 2011) came in from the University of Minnesota where they are wrestling to support Ellis, as did several of Ellis 2009 teammates, along with Brendan. Sammy Brooks, another amazing OPRF legend, class of 2012, was there in the same arena where he will be wrestling for the Hawkeyes starting next year.
I have watched Ellis grow into this remarkable young man, made internationally famous by his Flying Squirrel move. All the boys have the Flying Squirrel Ellis t-shirt the coaches made for the wrestling family. But he is more than that move. He is more than a phenomenal wrestler. He is marvelous and humble young man.
Over the years I would laugh when Ellis was over and in the kitchen when I would ask Brendan to clear the dishes from dinner. Brendan would usually ignore me and Ellis would always say politely, "I'll do it, Ms. Weldon."
And he did. Ellis did this one for sure. And I don't have any intention of stopping my smiling any time soon.