By Matt Oakes
The first people who come to mind when someone utters the word "wrestling" are Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin. These names conjure up images of high-flying off-the-top-rope acrobatics, choreographed chair swinging and timely guitar smashing. It is difficult to imagine how this calamity of a "professional sport" evolved from authentic Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.
This year promises to be one of the best for University of Calgary wrestling. Both the men’s and women’s teams are ranked first overall in the Canada West conference. Success seems inevitable. Leading the way for the men’s squad is captain Brad Neve. The 82 kg competitor has his eyes and heart set on guiding the team to their second consecutive year of domination over their Canada West rivals.
When asked if anything short of a conference championship would be a disappointment, he replied, "I think it would. We have a young team and it is a developing year but that is no reason not to be successful."
Neve began his wrestling career 10 years ago in Lethbridge while attending junior high. Later, in high school, he was a member of both the football and wrestling teams. Yet Neve doesn’t fit the bill of the stereotypical jock. Last year he received the honour of a Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union Academic All-Canadian award, given for excellence in both study and sport. The fourth-year accounting major is not afraid of hard work.
"It takes a lot of effort to juggle academics and wrestling, or any sport and an extra curricular activity," he said.
After his program is finished, Neve plans to join the rat race and leave his wrestling uniform behind in favour of a suit and tie. He has already been recruited by a firm here in Calgary. Nevertheless, his future plans still entail involvement in his beloved sport.
"I could never give up wrestling completely because it has given so much to me over the years. It has developed me into a better type of person than I would have been [without wrestling]."
Don’t be surprised if you happen to see him on campus in the coming years. Neve plans to be loyal to his alma mater.
"Alumni support is something that is so important in developing amateur sports and I think that is where my role will be in the future. It is important for the generations to come up and see that there is support from all levels."
Neve believes many of the skills he learned while wrestling will transfer to his involvement in the business community.
"There is such a diverse mix of people who make up the team and it is the same in any business. Teamwork skills are important as well as leadership, and the type of work ethic that you develop while wrestling can be translated to work or school."
Over the years at the U of C, Neve has perfected the art of balancing academics with wrestling and we all hope he achieves the same success with balancing chequebooks.