Beyond the Mat: David Hershberger
Tim Jackson, the Head Editor of the school newspaper, has agreed to join the wrestling program for a season-long series of articles highlighting the program and it's wrestlers through stories from both on and off the mat. Tim has put together an extensive series of article topics. Below is the 12th story in the series.
David Hershberger didn't quite realize what he was walking into when he signed on to wrestle at F&M. Perhaps it was the anticipation that he would need to wait his turn before starting, or that, when he began the college search process, he just wanted to get into a good school and didn't have many expectations about collegiate wrestling. Regardless, Hershberger's path to where he is now has not been ordinary.
"I always knew I wanted to go to college, whether it was for wrestling or something else," Hershberger said. "I wasn't exactly sure. Once I started getting letters [from wrestling coaches], however, I was pretty content to start looking at the schools and seeing what their wrestling programs were like."
Like many of his teammates, Hershberger started wrestling young. He was encouraged to dive into the sport by his stepfather, who, according to Hershberger, greatly influenced him as a child.
Wrestling is a big thing where Hershberger is from. Growing up outside of Dover, Del., as a young wrestler Hershberger was exposed to a lot of competition on the mat, as the sport seemed to attract most everyone in his area.
"I started [wrestling] when I was seven," Hershberger said. "My stepdad got me into it. Ever since then, I have basically loved the sport, and I just kept doing it."
"That was in second grade," he continued. "We had a lot of wrestling programs where I live, so everyone grew up with it. There were a lot of people who wrestle where I'm from."
For Hershberger, the sport has acted as a support system. Like many others who step onto the mat, he believes wrestling has helped mold him as a person and has played a critical role in determining the course of his adolescent and young adult life. The sport has done more than just that, however. It has buoyed Hershberger through some of the most difficult times of his life.
"[Wrestling] has had a major impact on my life. It makes me a better person," Hershberger said. "Wrestling showed me the discipline that I needed and it makes me work harder at everything. I definitely would not [be where I am today] without wrestling."
"After my dad died, when I was 15, there was a, I was going through some hard times," he continued. "Both my mom and my stepdad were helping me through it, but the one thing that really got me through it was wrestling. I could just go out there and clear my mind and just go. [Wrestling] let me let out my anger and it gave me the friends who I knew would support me."
I offered something of weak analogy, offering the comparison of a lifeboat. Hershberger paused and simply said, "Yeah, you could say that."
Although wrestling has undoubtedly shaped and prepared Hershberger for the world around him, wrestling is not the only sport he has dabbled in. Much like his stepfather encouraged him to try his hand at wrestling, Hershberger's stepdad made sure his stepson at least tried all different kinds of sports.
"My stepdad, he was the one who got me into all the sports I played," Hershberger said. "I didn't see my dad all that often, so when my stepdad came in, he just got me into sports. I tried baseball when I was younger and I played football up until high school, but that was on a community team and I didn't play in high school because I was too small. Then in high school I did cross country, I wrestled, and I played tennis."
Fortunately for the Diplomats, wrestling was the sport Hershberger stuck with.
"I thought Coach Rogers was very nice. I actually though everybody here was very nice and I felt right at home [at F&M]," Hershberger said. "I actually didn't really know about F&M until they contacted me. I wasn't really discouraged by [the struggles F&M had had recently]. I was just excited I was going to be wrestling in college."
"There is a great opportunity here," he added. "To be the incoming class that could change it all, to be the class that comes in and makes it all turn out for the best. I think Coach Rogers, and everybody else, is going to bring this program forward, and we're going to be a lot better than what we are now."
Off the mat, Hershberger leads a relatively relaxed lifestyle. He generally seeks out friends to simply hang out with or heads to the movies when he has free time on his hands.
"There's always something to do," he said.
"I'm thinking of getting into business," Hershberger added when asked about his academic pursuits. "There are also a lot of classes out there that I'm interested in that aren't necessarily on that track. I'm into philosophy and I like history a lot too."
As he progresses through his time at F&M, Hershberger hopes he can have a solid overall impact on the school and his goal is not be remembered solely as a wrestler, but as a model citizen as well.
"I want to have a good impact [on the community]," he said. "I want to be remembered as being a good person, good student, and being well-mannered. Just a typical, nice, human being. On the mat, I want to be remembered as the kid who did whatever he could."
"After college, I want to be in some kind of IT business, maybe start my own business," Hershberger added. "I love computers. My stepdad got me into that too. He's an IT person as well."
Hershberger is dead set on being the best overall person he can possibly be. He strives to be more than just a wrestler. Although the label is one that suits him and is one that he is proud of, it's important to remember that Hershberger has no desire to simply wrestle or to simply get good grades. He wants to do it all.
As a freshman, Hershberger has a lot of room to grow. However, he has already displayed maturity beyond his years and has made his impact felt as a member of the Diplomats. As the 125-pounder, he may look small, but Hershberger has a big heart and even bigger aspirations.
"I hope this program is known as one that just works hard and doesn't cause trouble," Hershberger said when asked what he hoped F&M's wrestling program would become. "I hope we're known as athletic and smart student-athletes. Just well-rounded."
Just like him.