Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Bill Welker, author of The Sparrow’s Spirit: A Champion Wrestler’s Lifetime Reflections on Prayer and Perseverance
FQ: As a new fan (and a writer), I have to ask, can you tell us your feelings about writing versus sports? Such as, do these two professions have commonalities that people should be aware of?
WELKER: Actually, I found them to be one in the same. In sports, and in my case as a wrestler, it involves drilling, drilling, drilling until you perfect a move. Likewise, writing involves edit after edit until you master the perfect wording.
FQ: The complete honesty with which you tell your tale is intriguing. Was it at all difficult, or perhaps therapeutic, to write this down and open yourself up to the world at large?
WELKER: Not at all. Everyone, who is honest, will admit that they have often made mistakes in life, especially in their younger years. The key is moving forward, learning from your past mistakes. I have often told those who are beginning a sport or career: “Always listen to the advice of the most experienced person because he is the one who has made the most mistakes.”
FQ: Is there a bio/memoir of someone you particularly admire with a life story that inspires you? If so, who would that be and why?
WELKER: Not really. My heroes in life (those who inspired me) were my parents and grandparents, as well as the teachers and coaches I was exposed to during my formative years. One’s true heroes are those who personally had a profound influence on his or her life. For me, that also includes the Holy Trinity.
FQ: Do you have any sports figures – wrestlers or otherwise – in 2017 that you would like to meet, perhaps interview?
WELKER: Wow, that’s a tough one. I have always admired the sportsmanship you see in professional golfers. My dad introduced me to this honorable game. I would have loved interviewing Arnold Palmer. Likewise, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. Yes, they are the ones that come to mind.
FQ: Would you give a sneak peek to readers regarding your memoir? Such as why you chose teaching?
WELKER: I believe my memoirs will let the reader know that it is okay to “screw up” in life, move forward and make something of yourself. But most importantly, learn to forgive yourself for past mistakes.
Now why did I choose teaching? At the time, I thought that was the only curriculum I could possibly graduate with a degree. Sports were my life in high school, not studying, which was a challenge for me as an undergraduate college student.
As it turned out, I fell in love with teaching and the kids, and had a wonderful 40 years in the K-12 classroom. I truly believe it was “His” plan for me in life. I also learned how to study, which I emphasize in my memoirs.
FQ: Have you ever experienced regret for not staying in the sports arena?
WELKER: Not really. In high school, I had a lot of pressure on me (be it from others or self-induced) to be a state champion wrestler, following in the footsteps of my cousin Harold and older brother Floyd, who I admired very much.
A million pounds were removed from my back when I was able to triplicate the feat. To be honest, I was tired of the competitive arena; wrestling is a very stressful and physical endeavor. However, I enjoyed coaching others in wrestling, football, and track for decades. As a former athlete, I understood their various emotions involving competition.
FQ: Are you interested in pursuing writing fiction one day? If so, is there a genre you would be most interested in?
WELKER: I have always been told to write about something one has experienced or know. Though I like fiction, if I were to delve into the genre, it would more likely be “historical fiction,” involving historical events that deeply inspired me.
FQ: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
WELKER: “You can recover your balance when you trip, but not your words when they slip.” – Anonymous
How many times have we said things in anger, and later regretted them. Unfortunately, no matter how much we apologize, the unkind words will always be remembered. As mentioned in the Holy Bible, a person’s tongue can be quite a vicious and unfeeling weapon at times.
FQ: With your background, the inspiration and advice you passed on to students must be substantial. When it comes to the world of sports, college athletes, etc., what is your take on the changes that have evolved over time? Is the pressure greater now than it was then to be the best of the best? What is the best piece of advice you would pass on to them?
WELKER: There are very, very few individuals who reach the apex of athletic professionalism. Keep in mind, pressure is in all walks of life. Participating in sports assists kids of all abilities to deal with such pressure. So just do your best, and see what happens. But never forget your studies. Plato, a wrestler by the way, said it best: “He who is only an athlete is too crude, too vulgar, too much of a savage. He who is a scholar only is too soft. The ideal citizen is a scholar-athlete: a man of thought and a man of action.”
FQ: Are you currently working on another book? If so, would you tell us a little about it? And if not, can you tell readers what your path currently is, and where they can find you on the internet?
WELKER: Not yet, but that might be in my future. I currently write op-ed columns for our local newspaper regarding major issues in our society.
Over the years, I have written 100s of articles on athletics (West Virginia Mat Thoughts), as well study skills articles (Parent Teaching Tips). They can be retrieved and copied at www.wvmat.com.
Finally, as a retired certified reading specialist, I have always stressed with my students: “Reading is Learning.”
To learn more about The Sparrow’s Spirit: A Champion Wrestler’s Lifetime Reflections on Prayer and Perseverance please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.