Jack Keffer '18 – Athletic Communication Student Assistant
The Franklin & Marshall scholar-athlete profile features one Diplomat per month who personifies what it means to be an NCAA student-athlete. The F&M campus is filled with dedicated, passionate, and talented student-athletes who have interesting stories to tell – and it's our goal to let those stories be heard. To be chosen as a scholar-athlete of the month, F&M student-athletes must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, and community service, or have a noteworthy story that stretches beyond the realm of athletic competition.
To view previous scholar-athletes, click here.
On a Monday morning in mid-November, Josh Young sat up — hesitantly — in bed, his mind willing an aching body. Through the exhaustion and soreness, his muddled brain eked out a thought that rarely occurs to him; "I don't want to do anything today." It's a pretty reasonable thought for a two-sport athlete and exceptional student coming off a taxing weekend.
"I had so many assignments that Monday, I was mentally exhausted," explained Josh, "and because we had another wrestling tournament the upcoming Sunday, we had practice in the afternoon… that was the hardest part."
Forty-eight hours earlier, Josh played in his final football game of the season against Albright in the Centennial Conference- MAC Bowl Game on Saturday. He had several receptions throughout the contest, in addition to contributing on special teams, but ultimately Franklin & Marshall College lost a close battle, 28-23.
The next day, Josh was scheduled to wrestle in the Keystone Classic at the University of Pennsylvania. So, after the football game, he made a long two-hour car ride from Albright with his mother to Penn's campus, where he immediately jumped into wrestling practice with the team on Saturday evening.
Early Sunday, after minimal sleep, he lay awake in bed, his mind filled with anxious thoughts about weigh-ins, as well as the nervousness and excitement to be back on the wrestling mat for the first time this season.
Josh always knew he wanted to wrestle in college. A football recruit out of Bethlehem, Pa., he aspired to walk on to the Division I wrestling team at Franklin & Marshall since his freshman year but chose not to in order to be with his family during winter break. "I was homesick my freshman year, and it was a big transition for me," said Josh. "I wanted to be home."
Family plays a big role in Josh's life. He is the man of the house, assuming the role after his father passed away in a car accident on his way to take care of Josh's sick grandmother. Josh was six. His mother, who works a night shift caring for sick patients at a non-profit, raised Josh and his two younger brothers with the help of his grandparents.
"My mom is my hero, I don't know how she does it," said Josh.
Sports provided an outlet for the active brothers. At home, Josh and his siblings occupied themselves playing sports all day, from basketball to in-house wrestling. In high school, each brother played football, wrestled, and participated in a spring sport. Josh and his next youngest brother were often wrestling partners in practice.
"The coach used to split us up because we would get too competitive during practice… we would stop drilling and start live wrestling all the time."
It wasn't until his little brother went to Columbia (which, like F&M, competes in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Conference) to play football and wrestle that Josh finally decided to try out as a grappler for the Diplomats.
"We would have been in the same weight class, and we were going to have an opportunity to wrestle each other again," Josh noted with a smile. "I had to do it." Unfortunately, Josh's brother broke his ankle in the last football game of the season and was unable to wrestle his freshman year at Columbia.
At the Keystone Classic, an already exhausted Josh took the mat against a talented VMI wrestler. Through two periods, he trailed by only a takedown in a 4-2 match. His opponent chose bottom as his position to start the third period. He managed an escape and didn't look back despite Josh's efforts to secure the takedown. Seven grueling minutes of battle drained Josh for the rest of the tournament. In his consolation match, he got pinned in the second period.
It was a tough day, physically and mentally, but it was far from over. After 20 minutes of rehydrating and recuperating from his matches, Josh reached into his backpack, flipped through his agenda, and began to work on one of the several papers due that week.
As impressive as Josh is athletically, he excels academically. A double major in business and philosophy, Josh is as committed in the classroom as he is on the football field, on the mat, and in the gym. He has explored the finance industry, turning down internships in New York and taking one in Harrisburg with The PFM Group so he could stay and wrestle over the summer at F&M. Even in the offseason, Josh refuses to slow down. Instead, he grinds.
"Josh is the model of what we want all our student-athletes to be with his commitment to being the very best on and off the field," said head football coach John Troxell. "It's incredibly difficult to be a two-sport athlete in College, especially while maintaining a high GPA."
Josh's daily routine is like wrestling practice: he slowly exhausts every ounce of physical and mental energy until he can rest. Then he does it again. But every day, he's getting better.
A typical day for Josh starts at 8:00 a.m., but twice a week it starts at 6:00 a.m. in the pool and weight room with the wrestling squad. The morning workout is quickly followed by breakfast. During football season, his first meal consists of eight eggs and 15 pieces of toast, and when he is maintaining weight for wrestling, he "eats like a regular person." He rushes to his first class following breakfast. Afterward, he hurries to his football lift, and an hour later he is sprinting back to class. A quick lunch before wrestling practice at 4:30 p.m. and the toughest part of the day is underway.
"Josh has an amazing work ethic, especially competing in two sports," said Mike Rogers, head wrestling coach at F&M. "He makes everyone around him want to be a better person."
At 7:30 p.m., Josh is refueling in the Dining Hall with his teammates, and after, he takes some rare leisure time to hang out with his roommates. "I need a break at that point," he admits. From 9:30-10:00 p.m., Josh turns his focus to the books. Assignments for Josh are like wrestling and football workouts; he must do them all, no excuses.
On a good day, he can crawl into bed around midnight, but most days take him long into the night. Once a week, they take him into the morning hours, and Josh gets to watch the sun rise twice in 24 hours.
The Sunday after the Keystone Classic was one of those nights. Josh returned to F&M's campus and hit the library, typing away about Phillip L. Quinn and other philosophers through the lonely hours of the night. Before he knew it, it was Monday morning, and he was off to his 8:00 a.m. class.
To try and understand what makes Josh Young tick, one only has to take a short walk from the wrestling mat in the Mayser Gym, to the Hall of Fame suite down the hall. There, at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday nights, Josh leads a Bible study for the Diplomat Christian Fellowship.
Faith is a daily practice for Josh, much like athletics and academics. He attends the Lancaster County Bible Church that lies behind College Row on Sunday mornings, and when he can't make that service, he attends Tuesday night at the Worship Center.
"We all deal with short and long-term struggles and setbacks, and for me, my faith has helped me realize that everything is working for your good," said Josh. "I've gained perspective from this, and I am a more positive and happy person because of it."
It is family, particularly his father, that has inspired his faith and helped mold his positive outlook, exceptional passion, and even-keeled perspective.
His father was full of adventure. He moved Josh's family to five different states to experience living in national parks. With each move, his father created a bible study at the local church. Along with Josh's incredible mother, his father encouraged his sons' endeavors and brought zest to each day. Although he has departed, his adventurous nature and passion live on through Josh and his family.
Today, you can find Josh motoring on crutches to his next class; his right leg held stiff in a brace. An ACL tear has ended the rest of his senior season. It is unwanted rest time for an active man, but Josh is looking forward to the future. He has decided to redshirt this season, which would have been his senior year, and return in 2017-18 to focus on one last wrestling season.
And yes, for the first time in his career, he will have the opportunity to face his brother.
For now, Josh can relax. He still goes to every wrestling event, but his body peacefully stays at rest. He does not like it this way; he misses wrestling and having fun with his teammates. He is the first one to start folding the mats after a match, limping with each step and laughing with his friends. Josh is a contagiously happy man. And just like his relentless work ethic, his smile never fades.