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No Ordinary Joe

Joe Betterman has gained a new perspective on life as a husband and father, and after joining the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program

By Craig Sesker To say Joe Betterman has been a very busy man would be a huge understatement. He’s married now and the father of a bouncing baby boy. And he’s now a member of the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program.

But one thing hasn’t changed for the two-time U.S. World

Team member in Greco-Roman wrestling. The 28-year-old Betterman is still pursuing lofty goals on the international level.

“I want to be the best wrestler in the World,” he said. “That’s what drives me and that’s what I’m working for.” Betterman fell just short of making the U.S. Olympic Team, falling in the finals to Ellis Coleman at 60 kg/132 lbs. this past April in Iowa City.

“Ellis wrestled great,” Betterman said. “He wrestled smart and

his par terre wrestling was really good. He has a really good gut wrench. I think I could’ve beaten him, but it just didn’t happen.” Ten days after that setback, Betterman was in Fort Sill, Okla., as he started Basic Training in the Army. He followed with Advanced Individual Training in Transportation in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

“The timing of going into the Army was actually good for me,” he said. “I felt like I was getting burned out on wrestling a little bit. I needed a break mentally. I told the drill sergeant at Basic Training that it was like a vacation for me. It was a great experi- ence for me. It instills a lot of discipline and attention to detail. I was 27 at the time, and I was around a lot of 19-year-old kids who have different approaches to life than I do. It was definitely interesting.”

Betterman said he did become stronger in one area. “We definitely did a lot of pushups,” he said with a laugh. “A lot of pushups.” Betterman’s wife, Deanna, who has twice placed fifth in the

World in women’s freestyle, gave birth to their son Mason in September.

“It definitely gives you a different perspective on life when you have a family,” Betterman said. “It gives me something else to wrestle for. The main reason I joined the Army is I need to sup- port my family. It’s nice to know I am going to get paid twice a month and that the Army is taking care of me financially. It’s great.”

Deanna Rix Betterman had stepped away from wrestling, but

she’s back on the mat now. “Deanna’s practicing again, and it’s going a little slow,” Joe

18 USA Wrestler

Joe Betterman has made two World Teams for the U.S. in Greco-Roman wrestling. Larry Slater photo.

said. “After she had Mason, she decided she wanted to wrestle again. She’s been wrestling since she was four years old, and she thought she might be done. But she’s going to give it anoth- er run and see how it feels.”

Joe Betterman returned to competition in November and placed third in the New York AC International. He followed by winning the Haparanda Cup in Sweden for the third time. “Winning in Sweden, it was a major boost for me,” Betterman said. “I was a little down after New York, but I came back strong. Winning that tournament tells me I am doing the right things, and I didn’t lose too much from when I was away from wrestling. I’ve still got it.”

Betterman has now made seven U.S. National Teams on the Senior level in Greco-Roman.

He was a member of the 2007 U.S. squad that won the team title at the World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. It was the first and only World team title the U.S. has won in Greco-Roman wrestling. “Joe needs to keep expanding his expertise,” U.S. National Coach Steve Fraser said. “He needs to be hungry for knowl-

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