In Play(er) of the Week, we seek to highlight outstanding Wesleyan athletes or segments of games that deserve extra attention. Aaron Goldman ’23 earned his second career New England Wrestler of the Week honor after his dominant performance at the Budd Whitehill Duals on Friday, Jan. 13 and Saturday, Jan. 14 at Lycoming College. The senior received All-Tournament honors after winning all five of his dual matches to become the only wrestler in his weight class to record no losses at the tournament. The Argus sat down with Goldman to talk about his wrestling career, his time as a student-athlete at Wesleyan, and the future of the team.
The Argus: Could you start off by introducing yourself?
Aaron Goldman: I’m Aaron. I’m an English major, which surprises some people sometimes. I always get econ for some reason, but I’m an English major. I’m heading to law school next year. I’m still deciding on where I’m going—number one is Georgetown right now, but we’ll see. On campus, I’m really just involved with wrestling and the Chabad House, which is a Jewish organization on campus. [And] WesTHON, [which] is a charity organization as well, but that’s about it.
A: How did you first start wrestling?
AG: I actually started late for wrestlers. A lot of wrestlers, they generally start as children, but I’m from Texas, and [wrestling’s] not huge there, football’s huge. I played football as a kid, and it turns out when you’re in seventh grade and you’re 4’9” and 80 pounds, you’re not very good at football. So my whole thing was, “I want to be a varsity athlete in high school,” and so I picked a sport [where] I could go against people my size. I obviously got a little bit bigger. I’m still not dunking, but I picked [wrestling] and you know, I just ran with it from there.
A: What made you want to continue wrestling when you got to college?
AG: That’s a good question, ’cause I almost didn’t. The thing about wrestling [is] it makes you live your life in a better way, in terms of, you have to get certain grades to compete, but you also have to set a study schedule, ’cause you have to go to these practices and go to these club practices and go and eat right. Everything about your life has to become better to be a good wrestler. So it’s kind of a lifestyle change and in my formative years, it made me who I was and made me better than I thought I could be in terms of just how I treat people and how I treat myself. And I wanted to continue that.
A: And did that play into your decision to come to Wes? Were you thinking about joining wrestling here specifically when you were applying to college?
AG: Yeah, for sure. I was looking at getting recruited by a few schools and I visited Wes and I fell in love.
A: What has been your favorite part of being a wrestler here at Wesleyan?
AG: This is cliché—the community. It’s hard coming on campus and you don’t really know anybody. And you walk in and it’s like, “Alright, we’re this group, this is us, I see you every day, I probably see you three times a day working out and stuff,” so you have built-in friends.
A: Do you have any favorite memories with the team?
AG: That’s a hard one. We have a tradition where we do Thanksgiving, and I’m not a good cook, so I don’t make anything great, I’ll buy something. But my best friend Greg [Fischer ’23], who I live with, bakes this humongous turkey. And you’ve never seen people eat until you see wrestlers eat. [They’re] like monsters. It’s horrifying.
A: Looking at this season so far, do you have any highlights or big moments that you’re going to remember?
AG: Our regionals are in two weeks, so I’m hoping that my highlight is there, winning it. But in terms of just this season, not really. That sounds bad, but it kind of blurs together cause it’s just so much competition and all this stuff. But when I look back and think about it, it’ll be the bus rides back [from matches] and the bus rides there. You’re constantly losing weight for wrestling ’cause you have to be underneath the weight class, so the bus rides there are really silent because everyone’s not feeling well and you’re suffering. I’m sleeping and I’m like, “I just want to eat a sandwich right now.” And on the way back it’s the most rowdy thing ever because no one is losing weight anymore and you’re just throwing down sandwiches and chips and all this stuff. So it’s a huge dichotomy, but yeah, I’ll just remember the little moments of rides and talking with friends in between matches.
A: You earned New England Wrestler of the Week honors after the Budd Whitehill Duals. What was that like for you?
AG: It was actually surprising. It was great. Our team didn’t perform to the level that I thought we could, so I was really thinking about that [and] it kind of caught me by surprise. Wrestling’s a hard, long season, so it’s kind of about tempering and measuring the highs and lows. That [match] was a high—I wrestled well, I did well. But the next week I didn’t, so it’s kind of about, you accept it and you move on. Hopefully I win it again, but if not, it’s not that big of a deal.
A: Thinking about first coming to the team in freshman year until now, do you think the team has changed in any way? Have the dynamics stayed the same?
AG: Even just numbers-wise, we’ve doubled in size, which kind of changes the whole dynamic. A lot more [are] people packed in the house when we invite people over. [But] not really, I would say the only thing that’s changed is that from freshman year to senior year, we’re all much better at Super Smash Bros, as we play that more than we wrestle.
A: With the final two competitions of the season coming up, how are you feeling about that?
AG: Yeah, this is a weird time cause it’s like none of the stuff matters before and it’s really a culmination of this season. This is what kind of defines your season. So it’s a little bit nerve-wracking, but also at the end of the day we go in the room and we do the same thing we’ve been doing every day. There’s some pressure, I’m not gonna lie—I’m nervous, I get nervous every time I wrestle. But we’re gonna go there in two weeks and go to Nationals after that and it’s gonna be the same thing we’ve done all year. So hopefully we’ll do well.
A: Do you have any specific routines or things you do before a tournament or after?
AG: When we get back [from a match], we pick a restaurant we go to. Because it’s [usually] Saturday night and it’s late [when we come back], it ends up being Athenian [Diner]. I love Athenian, but I’m starting to want to change up the restaurant.
A: Is there anything that you’re thinking about as you start to close out your final season here at Wesleyan?
AG: Honestly, just about how thankful I am. I really think wrestling’s made me who I am today as a person, and I’m proud of the person that it’s made me. We had senior day two days ago [for the match against Centenary on Feb. 11.] and my parents came up. I’m from Texas, [so] they don’t usually come up for our events and stuff, and it was a little bit emotional for me because it’s been half [of] my life that I’ve done this, and there’s a chance in two weeks I gotta find something else to do.
A: How do you feel about the team and how it’s going to be after you graduate in the years to come?
AG: We have a really good freshman and sophomore class and junior class, so I’m really excited to see how it is. I’m excited to visit and watch them wrestle, just ’cause each year they grow so much. Even the sophomores now, they were incredible last year, [and] they’re even better than they were before. So I think if you go and look at our record right now, it’s not spectacular, it’s like 7–10, it’s not something great. I think we’ve wrestled incredibly, [but] we have a really tough schedule, and I think we’re gonna be way better [next year] than we were this year.
A: Wrestling is obviously an individual sport when you’re in a match, but being on a team, how do you feel about that environment, like doing the sport on your own but also having teammates with you?
AG: Yeah, it’s actually really cool, we talk about that a lot. When you step out on the mat, it’s just you, and that’s a very scary thing. But what’s great about the team is that when I go into the room every day—they say this all the time in wrestling, “Iron sharpens iron”—we’re constantly making each other better every day. And then when I step out on the mat, I can go, “All these guys are rooting for me, are cheering for me, and they’ve all helped me get better.” And then when I go watch them, they’re gonna think the same thing. “He helped me get better.” So it feels individual for the seven minutes that you’re out there, but it’s a very team-oriented sport ’cause without teammates, you wouldn’t be anything. You get better every day because of them.
The Cardinals will close out the 2022-23 wrestling season with the NEWA Futures Tournament on Sunday, Feb. 19 and the Northeast Regional Championships from Saturday, Feb. 25 to Feb. 26. The NCAA Division III Championships will be held in Roanoke, VA from Friday, March 10 to March 11.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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