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An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

John Plummer ’25
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Tara Lennon

John Plummer ’25 on finding himself through wrestling

When John Plummer ’25 opened his eyes, he saw a trainer checking his pulse. 

“Do you know where you are?” asked the trainer. Yes, Plummer replied, at a varsity wrestling tournament. He had momentarily passed out after giving everything he had to win—which he did. 

He got himself partially up, and extended his hand to shake the trainer’s. 

It’s customary at a wrestling tournament to shake the hand of the other wrestler’s coach, and Plummer, without a clue what had just happened to him, managed to remember that he didn’t shake anyone’s hand yet. Even as he was regaining consciousness, Plummer had one thing on his mind: good sportsmanship. In a haze, he settled for the hand nearest to him. 

Plummer’s qualities add up to everything that makes for an ideal wrestler: his strength, his determination, and of course, the spirit of sportsmanship that marks every great athlete, regardless of the athletic arena. 

“John always gives 110%,” says wrestling Head Coach Phil Davis, who calls Plummer a “true team player in an individual sport.” 

Plummer has always played different sports, but the pieces didn’t come together for him until his IV Form year when he found himself in the wrestling room. 

He grew up playing ice hockey and sailing competitively. Ice hockey ran in the family, as his father was a semi-professional hockey player. 

“I was always expected to be good at hockey,” says Plummer. “I’m an incredible skater, but I really struggled with puck skills.”

As a III Former, he tried his hand at swimming and rowing, but he didn’t get the rush of adrenaline he was looking for from the pool or the pond. (It didn’t help that the shoe literally didn’t fit—rowing shoes were particularly uncomfortable for Plummer to wear.) 

But something clicked when he found wrestling. 

“The first thing I noticed about the team is it was very warm,” says Plummer. “It was like a family.” 

That family feeling didn’t lessen the anxiety he felt about starting the sport, particularly after witnessing the strength of the other wrestlers on the team. But Plummer put his doubts away, and went all-in.

He dedicated himself to the challenge, especially with the help of coach Davis and coach Donald Duffy. Plummer says that he has ADHD, and that the coaching staff on the wrestling team individualizes a coaching approach to suit his needs. 

“They know exactly how to coach me,” says Plummer. “I’ve never had a coaching experience like that where they know how to get my attention, how to keep my focus.”

The coaching staff takes the extra step each practice by not just telling, but showing. Plummer says they’ll put themselves fully into it, demonstrating how to do a move, which fits his preference for a more physical style of instruction.

Plummer and the coaching staff’s diligence paid off last season. He remembers his first win at a tournament at Polytech High School. 

“I wasn’t expecting to win at all that day because I had this mindset of, ‘I’m a beginner so what can I do?’” says Plummer. “I went out, and I don’t know what I did, but I came out on top.”

He has continued to come out on top: Plummer said he went 7-3 last year and this season, as of Jan. 26, he is 22-1, including JV, varsity, and exhibition matches. Even with such a great record, he sets the standard high for winning graciously and staying humble. 

“Because I’m so new to [wrestling], it’s easier for me to have a good mindset. I know that I will win some and I will lose some,” says Plummer. “Humility is important in this sport because there are people who have been wrestling since they were three.” 

But his success has given him a sense of accomplishment and confidence that he never really knew before.

“As soon as I started doing well, I immediately got a confidence boost and it has tremendously helped me,” says Plummer. “The person I am now because of wrestling is completely unrecognizable from the person I was before.”

Plummer’s love for the sport has become so deep that even in the off-season, he goes out of his way to develop his skills and get more practice at tournaments he finds on his own. 

“On the school’s first long break John didn’t just sit around, he attended a large wrestling tournament in Pennsylvania with over 1,500 wrestlers,” says Davis, who adds that Plummer also attended wrestling camp over the summer to better his skillset. “John represented himself and the school very well. This was not just a wrestling tournament, this was a test of John’s will to win.”

After taking the time to truly find himself in the sport, Plummer says showing up at wrestling meets and tournaments feels completely natural to him. 

“I think that it’s really easy to give it your best effort in wrestling, more so than in other sports,” says Plummer. “The adrenaline you get from what your body thinks is a fight takes care of any lack of effort.”

Davis sees no lack of effort when it comes to Plummer. “I can teach anyone to wrestle, but I can’t teach heart,” Davis says.  “John has plenty of that.” 

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