Thursday, April 25, 2002

The winner

Wrestler proves he's a trouper

        Even when a stupid mistake turns a simple pimple into a mountain of pain, real men don't wimp out.

        They forge ahead. And keep smiling.

        Kyle Georg is a real man. He knows how to conquer adversity. Keep his options open. And have the last laugh.

        Two months ago, the Glen Este High School senior saw his dream of being a champion wrestler shattered.

        He didn't mope or misbehave.

        Instead, he entered another competition. Something he had never done before. He auditioned for the school musical, a production of Grease.

        “Something just said: "Try this,' ” Kyle told me. “I call it my self-healing.”

        I call it fate. A sign of good breeding. And a signal that this guy is too smart and too proud to ruin his life over a zit.

        The stage rookie landed the part of Kenickie, one of the '50s-style musical's leading greaseballs. Kyle performs the role at the Clermont County school Friday and Saturday nights, trading his wrestling tights and game face for a Broadway smile, black leather vest and hair slicked back by gobs of Dippity-Do.

        On Feb. 15 — 12 days after his 18th birthday — Kyle was set to wrestle in the sectional tournament of his life. He was ranked second to a national champion in the 189-pound weight class. College recruiters would be watching. Scholarships were on the line.

        “I felt like it was going to be my day from the time I started my morning ritual,” he said.

        First, he kissed his dog on the head. Then he “put on just the right pair of underwear.” Signs pointed to victory.

        It wasn't to be.

        Hours before the tournament started, officials noticed a pimple on his right arm, by his elbow's inside crease. A doctor misdiagnosed the blemish as herpes.

        State rules prohibit a wrestler with a contagious skin condition from competing. Kyle appealed that day, even got a second — and conflicting — medical opinion. Tournament officials refused to budge.

        Kyle was disqualified and devastated. He went into the dressing room, punched a locker and began to cry.

        “I was hurting,” he said. “I still cry about it.”

        But he did not let the hurt get to his heart.

        He changed into his street clothes and cheered his teammates on.

        “I could not let my family — the team and my relatives — down,” he said.

        After the tournament, Kyle admitted he “moped around in school. Didn't talk to my friends. Argued with my mom.”

        He didn't do anything stupid like hill hopping or pill popping.

        “Being stupid like that,” he said, “gets you nowhere.

        “I was raised better than that by my parents, by my mom.”

        Kyle knows how to deal with disappointment. His dad, Tim Georg, died when Kyle was 7.

        “Whenever I'm down,” he said, “I look up and ask my dad for help.”

        That happened the day before he tried out for Grease.

        “I said: "Dad, help me. I'm in trouble. I don't know if I can make it through my senior year. It's ending with regrets, something I never wanted.' ”

        Now, Kyle says, he has no regrets. Landing the part in Grease has taught him a lesson. A lesson everyone can take to heart.

        “It's amazing how much fun something new is,” he said.

        “As much as you love what you are doing, there is something better.”

        Performing's great, he added. “In a sport or dancing around.”

        Even with your hair slicked-back by Dippity-Do.
       Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; e-mail


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