By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Standing in the concession stand overlooking the North Salem Football Stadium during Wednesday’s Greater Valley Conference Five-Team Meet, Shannon Glover is working in the stand while fundraising some money for his trip to Japan this summer.
The 120-pound Junior wrestler recently qualified for the Cultural Exchange overseas in the Land of the Rising Sun, an opportunity of a lifetime to get better, to face competition he’s never faced and learn about a culture that’s unknown.
When Glover first heard that he was going over, he had mixed emotions about it.
“When I first heard it, I had mixed emotions,” he said. “I was happy and I was really emotional because I’ve been working my whole life for this. Ever since my eighth grade year, I’ve been wrestling and trying my best to do something with it.
“I (now) got the opportunity to do something with that, so it hit me in the (feelings).”
During his time over there, he’ll be staying with host families. Staying over a period of time of a few days with each host family to fully experienced the culture there in the host country while getting the opportunity to wrestle against the best of what the host country has to offer.
Reflecting on what he wants to get out of this experience wrestling overseas is just that: Experience.
“My goals are to get more experience so that when I get back I have a lot more experience,” said Glover. “I can come back with more knowledge so I can work that, put that in my game and use that to be a state champion which is my ultimate goal.”
Glover isn’t the first Viking to take part in this amazing feat said Pickett. In 2012, Raymond Smith also took part in the Cultural Exchange and the experiences he brought back helped him win his State Championship the year after his trip to Russia.
Head Coach Andy Pickett noted that it changed Smith as an individual, wrestler and leader that following year.
“I think anytime you can get that kind of representation on Team Oregon in another country is wonderful for the program,” said Pickett. “He’s only the second kid that North Salem has had qualify since I’ve been coach here.
“The last kid, Raymond Smith in 2012, he went to Russia and it transformed him as a person. The cultural experience turned him into a leader and he wound up winning a state title for us the following year. It changed him as a person and I’m looking forward with that with Shannon.”
What Pickett is sharing with Glover from that experience is to focus on the mental aspect of the game.
“Mainly mental is what I’m trying to do with him,” said Pickett. “I’m trying to get him to realize what an excellent opportunity it is. Some people go their entire lives without getting to another country and he gets the opportunity at 15. That’s pretty awesome.”
Glover is taking what his High School coach is saying, stating that Pickett is more like a friend than a ‘true’ coach; which is making the learning and incorporating what Pickett is telling him.
“He’s a great influence (for me),” “He makes me work hard and do my best no matter what. The whole thing about him is that he’s more like my friend. He comes more across like my friend than my coach. That’s what makes it easier for me to understand him when he’s yelling at me.
“I understand him, so it makes me want to listen to him more instead of some random guy that I get to call coach.”
As Glover walks back into the door, back into the concession stand with a fundraising box on one end of the stand, the mixed emotions are more excitement than anything for what the future holds with the Cultural Exchange.
“I’m really excited,” said Glover. “I’m mostly excited for the experience not only for the wrestling, I get to see a whole new culture, meet a bunch of new people and the cool thing is that I’m going over there, staying with a host family, so we’re not staying in a hotel with a bunch of wrestlers. You get all that culture and stuff in the actual home so it’s pretty cool.”