One of the fascinating aspects of sports is the people you meet.
For athletes, it starts early. From new friends, their parents, and coaches, the world expands in front of them.
If you stay in a sport long enough, you meet some of the greats.
On the other hand, if you write about sports, great characters emerge.
Dr. Joseph McFarland is one of them.
We met at this year’s Oregon high school wrestling championships. He was helping man the table for Restore College Wrestling in Oregon, explaining the mission and signing people up.
I was there to say hello to anyone I knew. If you've ever wrestled and live in the same state where you competed, you'll run into more people than you expect.
And a few you don't. Dr. Joe was one of those. I introduced myself and he said, "You're the writer."
It wasn't a question, which surprised me, though I still explained boomerpdx (my blog) and my focus on Portland baby boomers.
The next surprise was even better. He's a writer, too. A blogger.
From orthopedic surgeon to diet and exercise enthusiast isn't the stretch it seems like it is for most medical doctors.
The more he and I talked, the more I heard echoes of naturopathic medicine and the connection between nutrition and fitness. I hear that often since my wife is a naturopathic doctor and our kids wrestled. High nutrition and low calories are still the goals to aim for.
An hour passed, then another, and we decided to meet somewhere soon to continue our conversation. We set a lunch date at the Multnomah Athletic Club.
We skipped Portland's upscale brew pubs, the trendy food carts, and instead went straight to the region's sports mecca, the same place Tony Russo began his climb to Arizona State and the dynasty that is Newberg wrestling. It's a wonderful story told in Tonya Russo Hamilton's book, Wrestling With The Devil, and the MAC plays an important role.
How important is the MAC? If the Heisman Trophy lived in Portland, the MAC would have it there.
Dr. McFarland guided us to a restaurant past the wall of fame where I saw a picture of Terry Shanley, Oregon Duck heavyweight wrestler and fellow Oregon coast native.
From our table to the salad bar and back, we picked up our conversation where we left off, but it took an unusual turn.
While he's on the formal committee to Restore College Wrestling in Oregon along with Mike Clock, Marlin Grahn, John Dustin, Kurt Davis, Chuck Holliday, Craig Woodward, Roger Rolen, Howard Morris, Gary Head, John Speasl, Ron Iwasaki, and Buck Davis, we talked about writing and sports, writing and health, writing and making a difference.
In a place that feels like hallowed sports ground, Joe McFarland wanted the same thing every athlete wants, a chance to compete the way he learned as a youth. He wants to give everything he's got to give.