Picking up wrestling in middle school, Head Coach Richard Gorham ’86 fell in love with the sport almost immediately.
Coach Gorham said, “I started wrestling in the sixth grade, and then I came and wrestled at Andover for all four years. I came back seven years later and became the coach here in 1993.”
Because of the toughness of the sport, Gorham hold a special place in his heart for wrestlers.
Gorham said, “I respect everyone who wrestles because it is very hard to do. It takes courage to walk out on that pad all alone and wrestle someone with a fear of embarrassment and injury.”
Gorham loves the sport because it gives back to those who put in the most effort. He emphasizes that wrestling is a sport for not those who possess raw athleticism but a strong work ethic.
“I like wrestling because it is a sport that rewards hard work. Natural, athletic talent is helpful in wrestling, but it is not critical. By a lot of measures, a lot of good wrestlers are not good athletes. Personally, I was able to be a reasonably successful wrestler by working at it, and I have been able to coach a lot of athletes who have become successful through their effort,” said Gorham.
According to Gorham, hard work is a fundamental aspect of his coaching style. Like learning to play a sport, Gorham believes that the value of hard work must be taught through teamwork.
“The Andover Wrestling Team that we are trying to build here is a community where we value hard work. We are a co-ed sport, I always say what matters when you come out here is your willingness to work hard and help your teammates, whether it’s your first or tenth year. In some ways it is a very individual sport, but what we are trying to foster here is a notion that we get better as individual[s] by working hard as a team,” said Gorham.
Gorham’s wrestlers appreciate his role on the team. Though they have an extensive depth chart, he finds time for everyone, according to team members.
Daniella Valverde ’18 said, “He always takes the time to answer all of my questions and clear up anything I’m confused about. He has helped me recognize my strengths and weaknesses in wrestling and this has helped me in my matches.”
Co-Captain Pierce Bausano ’18 said, “Coach Gorham cares about every individual on the team and makes an effort to form a personal connection with every wrestler. With every wrestler, Coach is focused on the bigger picture. Win/loss records are far less important than an individual’s potential over the rest of their Andover Wrestling career.”
Coach Gorham also always stays positive, keeping the team on track even through losses, according to team members. Although his title limits him to a coach, Coach Gorham serves as a role model, a mentor, and a friend to his athletes.
Bausano said, “Coach does an incredible job refocusing the team, getting everyone’s head back in it and ready to wrestle. Ask any Andover wrestler what the only important match is and they’ll say ‘The next one.’ ”
Gorham hopes to enter the second half of the season with a strong and healthy team.