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Grappling with Success

Penn State wrestler finished his degree before his eligibility, so he kept competing – and went on for a master’s

Most of David Taylor’s weekends as a kid were spent in his family’s purple suburban, driving to various wrestling tournaments. The two-time NCAA champion recalls the countless road trips and the most important rule he had to follow: keep an A average in school if you want to wrestle.

“My family has played a very important role in my success,” Taylor said. “And my dad’s No. 1 rule growing up was I couldn’t compete unless I had an A average. Since second grade that’s something I held myself accountable for and did all through middle school, high school and college.”

By the time the Penn State grappler went on to win his second NCAA title, he had already completed his undergraduate degree. The four-time, first-team National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Academic honoree chose to pursue graduate school following the completion of his undergraduate degree in recreation, park and tourism management in spring 2013. Now Taylor is working toward his master’s degree in higher education administration and keeping with his high academic standards by maintaining a 3.67 GPA.

“I tried to take advantage of every moment I’ve been here and try to get the most out of every time I step on the mat or into the classroom,” Taylor said. “The combination of the two have really created some great memories for me.”

His dedication in the classroom goes hand in hand with his dedication on the mat. The four-time All-American never missed a practice or match during his entire five-year career as a Nittany Lion. He was a reliable leader for the team, and his routine dominance is evident by his 134-3 career record.

Many wrestlers refer to the sport as a ”lifestyle,” and Taylor is no different. He credits his success in the classroom to the wrestling mindset and persona he brings into all aspects of his life.

“I take pride in my wrestling, and I take pride in my academic accolades,” Taylor said. “It’s a lifestyle choice, and that’s what I’m trying to apply in every aspect of my life.”

Taylor’s immediate aspirations still include the sport he loves. He has already begun training for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janerio, where he hopes to fulfill one of his many lifelong dreams of competing in the Olympics. Taylor will continue to complete his graduate program work, with plans to finish as early as fall 2014.

Taylor will reassess his future and begin setting his next set of goals following the Olympics to determine whether he will pursue coaching or a career in athletics administration. If he chooses the latter, he has the tools to do it.

“Someday down the road I may want to pursue something outside of wrestling, and I have these academic degrees to help me do that,” Taylor said. “One way or another athletics is something that’s been important to all aspects of my life, and in order to work in athletics administration you need an undergraduate degree and a master’s at some point.”

This month we celebrate thousands of student-athletes, like David Taylor, who have earned their degrees..