It has been almost a year since Dan Gorman has passed away. He was my professor, advisor, athletic trainer and my friend. I knew him for only one semester, which was the first semester of college for me, but the impact he made will last my whole life. This is my story in a nutshell.
We had a dual wrestling meet against Ohio Northern University, and I had an exhibition match. I don’t like to lose and I especially don’t like to lose when we have to travel.
“Are you wrestling?” Dan asked hoping that I was.
“Yeah.” I was happy to tell him yes, but confused because professors usually don’t care to see their students compete.
“Great, I get to see you wrestle.” He said this as he hobbled around because he had a drop foot. The short time I knew him, there was always something physically wrong with him, which gave him character.
It was a close match, but I won. After the varsity dual meet, we had a snowy drive back to Mount Union. We were driving for about an hour until I felt the bus jerk and I saw a massive hole in the front left of the bus. I didn’t know the severity of the situation but I knew that we had to call 911 for Dan. It wasn’t until I walked off the bus and saw the aftermath of the seat Dan was sitting in before I knew how bad it was.
The whole team was transported to the hospital. I thought Dan would be OK. I knew he was hurt but I wasn’t sure how badly. After waiting a decent amount of time, our coach told us the news. I cried, but I eventually stopped hoping I would never have to think about it again. We stayed the night at a local hotel. I fell asleep immediately once we got there because it was late, but when I woke up to check the time, I couldn’t go back to sleep because of everything running through my head that happened the night before. I slept like this for the next two weeks, the same haunting images running through my head before I went to sleep and when I woke up.
I didn’t want to think about it anymore, but it was impossible since we hadn’t even gotten back to school yet. When we traveled back there were people waiting for us at The MAAC including the rest of the team, athletic trainers, students, Dan’s family and others. I wasn’t expecting this and I didn’t want them there simply because I didn’t want to think about it anymore. Mourning is something nobody wants to do, but it is necessary. I didn’t realize this at the time. I thought I could get over Dan’s death within a day. I mean, I’m able to lose a wrestling match and get over it, why can’t I do it with this? Well these are two completely different situations.
I thought I was done mourning … well, I was wrong. I’d explain the story to two of my friends and I broke down while trying to tell them what happened. At the time, I was embarrassed but now I realize it was appropriate for the situation.
Throughout the week, I continued to go to class. I wanted to get over it, and if I was ever alone, I would do too much thinking. There was an athletic training meeting where we basically talked about what we had experienced. I realized that I was one of two athletic training students on the bus when it happened. I know I wasn’t the only one to experience this, but I felt like nobody experienced it like I did. In reality, everyone experienced it differently. Everyone has their own story.
Dan passed on a Tuesday. We had a wrestling dual meet on Saturday and a tournament on Sunday, both of which were home at Mount Union. On Saturday after the dual meet, we went as a team to Dan’s wake in Dewald Chapel. It was a two-hour wait until I saw Dan’s family, and it was the first time I saw Dan since I saw him being transported into the ambulance. I immediately lost it again, but a few of my teammates and coaches were there for me. I always felt alone, but I was constantly reminded that everyone was going through the same thing I was.
Dan’s funeral was on Sunday in The MAAC, which was the same place and same time as the tournament. I had wrestled two matches before the service even started. It was an hour-long and I barely shed a tear simply because I was holding it back. Everyone who spoke had a very emotional speech, but I was ready to get it over with and wrestle. The tournament was put on hold because of the funeral service and immediately after the service, I changed as quickly as I could because I was the first match to wrestle.
The whistle blew and I started wrestling like any other match, then it all hit me at once. It was as if you shook up a soda and opened it and watched it explode. Everything that happened throughout the week came back into my mind and I started crying while wrestling. I wrestled terrible, but I made it through the match and afterwards I immediately hugged my friend Kelsey. I was out of the tournament, but that didn’t matter, I missed Dan.
A month after all of this happened, I saw a counselor at school because I still didn’t feel right. She helped me a lot and after only two visits, I felt like my old self. I thought about everything that happened everyday until about mid-summer. I didn’t like the thought of losing someone I care about. I have become more grateful and appreciative for every friend I have.
This is my story in a nutshell. Dan cared for everyone so deeply. He truly was a genuinely good man and I hope to be like him one day.