Sports

Family synonymous with wrestling

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One word symbolizes wrestling in the Lower Valley and that word

is Pedeferri. But beyond the brothers Aaron and Eric, the powerhouse

duo from Cedarcrest, is a legacy of wrestling accomplishments and a

family support structure indicative of their level of achievement.

It all started back in the early 1960's at Issaquah High School

under a coach named Roger Wilson. Wilson it seems had brought a

new sport to the then country high school. The sport was wrestling and first

to take to the mat for the Pedeferri family was John, uncle to Eric and

Aaron. John did well with the new team from Issaquah, winning the KingCo title

in his senior year, 1964. That same year, John's brother Walt, father of

Aaron and Eric decided he had to learn this wrestling thing, as a form of

"self-defense."

Walt would help his team to two more KingCo wins, making it all

the way to second in state in 1966.

"I was Issaquah's first state placer, placing second in 1966. I lost to

one of a pair of identical twins, Dwayne Keller from Kennewick," said

Walt about the match. "He went on to take the national championship in the

115-pound weight class.

"I'll never forget, I came out and got the takedown on him and after

the match he came to me and said nobody had gotten a takedown on him

all year," he continued. "I ended up losing the match 10-4."

Keller had won 43 consecutive matches going into that

championship final and stopped short Walt's bid

for a state title. Despite the loss, the wrestling legacy had been created and

history had been made as Walt became Issaquah's first-ever state placer.

So, when two sons came along and started getting a bit rambunctious -

at age four for Aaron and five for Eric - he looked for a chance to get

them involved in the sport he loved.

"Obviously, because I wrestled, I had an inclination to get them

involved and steer them that way, but believe me, I didn't put any pressure on

them," said Walt of his kids' involvement.

"Eric and Aaron started when they were five and four with the

Bellevue Boy's and Girls club," touted Walt. "We started with that program

because my brother John had been taking Andre there. Their seeing

cousin Andre involved peeked their interest so they wanted to get involved,

and we've been doing it ever since."

Andre was a well-known wrestler himself. In 1997 he became the

first state placer for Eastlake in the 130-pound class, adding to the

Pedeferri mystique. The program, headed by wrestling coach Paul Kaiser, has

produced many state, regional and KingCo champs since its inception.

"At that time we were fairly close, since we were on Coal Creek

Parkway within the Issaquah School District," said Walt. "In fact, that was

a topic of conversation at the league tournament when we wrestled

Liberty. Had we stayed there at Coal Creek, the boys would have wrestled at

Liberty."

But the wrestling involvement in the Pedeferri family doesn't stop

there. Walt's sister has two boys that also wrestled, with nephew Scott

Tongue winning a state title in 1986. His brother Pat was an all-American

at Nationals and was one of the top-ten freestyle wrestlers in the country

back in 1984.

But being the parents of two regional and KingCo champs

hasn't meant that Mom and Dad have pushed their boys to greatness.

"I've tried not to follow wrestling as much as I did in the past," said

Walt. "The boys have been so involved with it for so many years through

the Bellevue Boys and Girls Club that I have backed off a bit. I've seen

so many of the parents follow it intently, therefore becoming so immersed in

it, their emotions getting so high that they're out there yelling at their

kids with a voice that makes me shudder at times.

"In backing off, I don't follow kids that might be his opponents,

even though people ask me about this opponent or that opponent. I let Eric

do his own thing and try not to be too involved worrying about opponents

or getting to the side of the mat and telling them to do this or do that. I've

seen kids with parent pressure go the opposite direction and I don't want to

do that."

So how do a mom of two boys and a wrestling dad cope with things?

There is a down side to the home-d├ęcor aspect of having wrestlers

at home.

"I have no furniture in my living room," she laughingly adds. "I have

a nice thick carpet so guess where they wrestle? They all take turns at

each other.

Walt jumped in, adding, "It used to be more so, but now Eric has

the upper hand."

"They always want to show Dad some new move," added Margaret.

As all of us know, two boys from the same family can have very

different outlooks on life.

"Eric and Aaron are very different," says Walt. "Eric is very

focused on whatever he does. Whether it's his homework or wrestling, he is very

into it, 110 percent. Aaron is a little more carefree and would rather be out

hunting or fishing right now. Eric is more of an emotional person. He wants

that championship, looking forward to it, and it's been his target, especially

this year."

Parents know that watching their children in competition can be

as tough on the parents at times as it is on the children themselves.

"I get emotional when I see them take first place in these

tournaments, especially the tournaments that are extremely tough, where they have

a lot of competition," said Walt. "Obviously it does my heart good to see

him following in my footsteps in that regard, to follow the same path I

did through high school. I was committed to wrestling and to see Eric as

committed as he is to wrestling, he is by far much more of an athlete than I am."

But Walt's outlook on the sport his boys do so well at is clear.

"Wrestling is by far more of an individual sport than basketball

or football. When you go out on the mat, yes, you're wrestling as a team,

but when you lose, it's your loss, a personal loss. There is nobody to

blame when you lose, and when you win, the credit goes to you.

"In this day and age we like to blame everybody else, like the

referee or whatever, but in the big picture, it's the individual," he added. "When

you lose, nobody else lost the match for you. It depends on how much

effort and time you put into it."

But these boys aren't only exceptional grapplers, they also hold

their own in the academic world with Eric touting a 3.7 grade point average

and Aaron holding a 3.18. Eric is also the only three-sport, four-year letter

winner in Cedarcrest's history, participating in cross-country, wrestling

and track and field.

With Eric graduating this spring, focus has been on what plans he

may have for the future.

"College somewhere, PLU, Central, Boise State," says Eric. "I

applied to Simon Frazier but haven't heard anything back yet. I don't want

to make any decisions until after the season."

And after college, "I want to be a firefighter like dad, and possibly

have a little business on the side," he

touts, adding " I want to go to college open minded; I don't want to shut the

doors on anything."

And what does Eric think of all the family involvement?

"It's neat to be a part of a wrestling family. I'm proud of it. I think

I've gotten what I need out of wrestling for what it does. No matter what

happens, the family is always going to be there. A lot of kids don't have that

in sports, you know."

"A lot of kids complain about their dads and families," adds Eric. "My

dad is really cool. He lets you do whatever you want and no pressure.

He's funny, kind of comical, in fact."

"He likes to help us improve, he leads in the right direction and is

there if we need him," adds Aaron.

This year's addition of head c

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