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Family synonymous with wrestling
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
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
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
So how do a mom of two boys and a wrestling dad cope with things?
There is a down side to the home-décor aspect of having wrestlers
"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
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
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