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Dr. Kris Brickman, 54, firmly believes there is no better way to spend free time than with high school athletes. For the last 25 years, he has treated all types of injuries in young athletes. He is the voluntary team doctor for St. John's Jesuit High School. He also helps out in the high school wrestling community. He practices emergency medicine and is the director of the emergency department at the University of Toledo Medical Center. He was a member of the Ohio State University wrestling team for two years. After graduating from medical school at Wright State University, he settled in Toledo and volunteered to help the St. John's wrestling program in 1985. Dr. Brickman lives in Sylvania with his wife, Beth, and their children, Kelsey, Kendall, Cameron, and Cory.
What was your first job?
My dad was a veterinarian and the dog kennel was next to the house so I cleaned out the dog cages every morning before school for $5 per week. I had a pretty glamorous childhood.
How did get into wrestling?
My senior year in high school our football coach was also the wrestling coach and coerced me to help him out and fill in the 175-pound weight class. My nickname in high school was Brickhouse. It worked out pretty well that year so when I had a chance to stick with it at a D-III school. I then transferred to Ohio State to get in my pre-med requirements. On a whim I tried out for the wrestling team because I wanted to get back in shape. There were about 130 of us. Somehow I made the cut, so I wrestled there for a couple more years.
What is it about wrestling that you enjoy?
Probably the work ethic necessary to be successful in the sport; it's a real grind and takes significant commitment. Also the individual nature of wrestling competition as opposed to team sports, if you lose there is no one else to blame and when you win and the ref raises your hand there is no better feeling and no one else gets the credit.
Which sport do you consider to be the riskiest or do you see the most injuries in?
Clearly football has the most injuries of all high school sports. Hockey, soccer, basketball, and wrestling are a distant second. Improved football equipment and knee braces for lineman have helped considerably to limit head and knee injuries over the past few years. As always in all sports, the number of injuries are proportional to the athlete's conditioning.
What's your style when treating athletes?
My style isn't to baby anybody because I was an athlete. I know what they can handle.
Why do you like to work with high school athletes?
There is no pretense with them. You must earn their trust but if you can connect with them they typically absorb what you trying to teach them and apply it in a match or a game or even life. In wrestling you will often just see the ‘light click on.' You hope the same happens with the rest of their life. Physically and emotionally they change significantly from year to year so I try to be a resource to help them work through their issues.
What qualities and skills make up a good wrestler?
With conditioning and a focused approach to technique anyone can be a "good" wrestler. Specifically, if you have at least a couple moves that you can execute successfully on anyone you will win most of your matches. To be a "great" wrestler is another story. There is no substitute for strength and athletic ability and one more intangible that you see in all ‘great' wrestlers is that they go out on the mat expecting to win every time and simply refuse to lose.
What are some of the ‘highlights' of your 25-year career as a team doctor?
Several years ago St John's was playing Whitmer in a preseason football game. One of the refs was caught under a pile of players and badly broke his ankle. It was rotated 90 degrees ... with a loud crunch I rotated it back in place only to have one coach pass out and another throw up.
Two years ago one of our players, Mike Quinto, broke his femur making a tackle. Anyone else would be screaming in pain but he's just lying there talking to us as we put his leg back in place. Toughest kid I ever saw.
Watching my son play varsity football and hockey and my daughters play softball at Notre Dame is as good as it gets.
Who's the best wrestler you ever saw in the northwest Ohio?
That's a hard one. There have been a lot of great wrestlers. But Airron Richardson from Start stands out as a ‘man among boys.' Also the Contos brothers, Shawn and Kevin, were pretty much unbeatable in our area. Each of them would not allow themselves to lose. In fact, specifically for Kevin, a rare loss would invariably result in the destruction of a nearby table or chair. I might add I only heard about the legendary battles between Mark Kerr [state champion] and Tony Beier.
What do you see yourself doing in five years?
Hopefully the same thing I'm doing now. I love to stay busy and love what I am doing … and hopefully see the Browns in the Super Bowl! I'll likely be dead before it happens.
— Mark Monroe