By Sean Budlong
Sports stories about siblings playing on the same team are not unusual- Many families have stories of brothers who are pitcher/catcher combinations for the baseball team or sisters that are point guard and forward. Schoolcraft wrestling takes this story line to the next level with the Fox family.
Spencer Fox is a senior who has helped the Eagle football team earn back-to-back undefeated seasons as a running back and linebacker. In the winter, Spencer becomes an individual beast on the wrestling mat. As a junior, he finished third in the State. As a senior, he entered the State Tournament undefeated and ranked 2nd in the 130 weight class. What makes Spencer’s story unusual is who he wrestles with and against away from school.
Spencer is joined on the Eagles wrestling team by his brother Mark, and his cousins River, a sophomore, and Silver, a freshman. “I enjoy spending time with family, but it can get a little intense when you spend a few hours a day beating on each other for months at a time,” Spencer said with a laugh.
Joking aside, the Fox family and the Schoolcraft wrestling program benefit greatly from the family connection. By having a highly successful and motivated family member available to encourage and challenge them, the younger wrestlers are already having great impact in the wrestling world. River reached his first State Tournament this season.
The family competitions began early. “Even when River was 5 or 6, he would be my wrestling partner because he was so much bigger than other kids,” Spencer explained. “We still work out together, but I’m not going to throw him around anymore.” Now the family shares the experience, good and bad, and learn from each other.
While River stands apart based on size, Silver has to overcome questions about a girl wrestling against boys. “it’s a love or hate sport,” said Wendy Fox, Silver and River’s mother. “Silver’s friends may not understand why she does it, but it makes her a better athlete for volleyball and softball.”
One teammate that understands the impact that family competition can have on an athlete is Ethan Sharp. Sharp is the fourth brother to wrestle for Schoolcraft and made his fourth trip to the State Finals. “It was good to always have someone to practice with and ask for help,” said Sharp. “But it was also difficult because he (Zac Sharp) was really competitive and didn’t always want a younger brother who could be as good as him. In the long run, it was a great benefit to me and the program.”
Spencer takes great pride in the accomplishments of his family. “Mark had a really strong year as a freshman and I like helping him with moves and strategy,” he said. “Silver really came through in some clutch situations – especially the Coloma match. And I’m really proud of River making States finals as a sophomore.”
While Spencer’s high school wrestling career ended with a second consecutive third place State finish, his impact on the Schoolcraft program will continue for a few more years. His last words of advice? “You have to be careful who you mess with at family functions, because there’s always someone who is willing to take you on. And it gets serious fast.”