Away from football and wrestling competition for more than a year, Burrell senior Derrick Beattie developed a Zen-like mentality in order to deal with the frustration that accompanied his long recovery from the torn labrum and damaged rotator cuff in his left shoulder.
“I learned patience, fortitude and to just do things day by day,” said Beattie, who suffered the injury in August 2012. “You're going to have good days and bad days, but you just have to stay a good person, a nice person, and just take pride in what you do.”
Back to full strength and competing in sports for the first time since that unfortunate fall season, Beattie, a senior 160/170-pounder for the Bucs, is ready to unleash the energy and aspirations that accumulated while he stood to the side and waited.
“I know the whole process took a long time, but now that I'm back, it feels like it was in the blink of an eye,” he said. “The feeling now that I'm through all of that and out there competing, it's really something else.”
In order to put himself in the best position as a wrestler, Beattie chose to forgo football, the sport that initially caused his shoulder injury. The fact that the Bucs could have used him to fill the void at running back and linebacker left by 2013 graduate Cole Bush kept Beattie undecided on whether to skip football until about a week before training camp.
“I didn't want to make a quick decision, so I thought about it all summer,” Beattie said. “In wrestling, you can somewhat control a match — injuries happen, though. But in football, if I'm playing running back and middle linebacker, people are flying at me, and if I'm not ready for that, I'll get injured then.
“I just wasn't feeling 100 percent like myself at that time. I was feeling somewhere around 85 percent, 90 percent in terms of when there'd be contact with my shoulder. I was more worried about my health, because I want to be good after high school.”
He gets one season to convince colleges that he's a WPIAL championship-caliber wrestler. Beattie came close as a sophomore, when he went 34-15 and placed third in WPIAL Class AA as a 170-pounder.
Those around Beattie believe the senior retained his abilities during his recovery, which also included a brief setback this summer when Beattie suffered a minor tear of the LCL in his right knee.
“I think he's going to surprise a lot of people,” coach Josh Shields said.
“It's like he didn't even take a year off,” said senior 152-pounder Steven Edwards, who has been training with Beattie in the practice room.
The King of the Mountain Tournament Dec. 13-14 provided Beattie his first major test. Beattie won two matches — one by pin and another 8-4 — but ran into Cumberland Valley senior T.C. Warner, the No. 1 seed and a 2013 PIAA Class AAA finalist, in the quarterfinals. Warner won with a first-period pin, and Beattie finished one consolation-round win short of placing.
The Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament, which begins Friday at Canon-McMillan, is the next opportunity for Beattie to measure himself against many of the state's best.
“I've got to learn, and I've got to learn fast,” Beattie said. “I've got to shake off the rust.”
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