Senior Staff Writer
During his sophomore year of high school, Sharron Townsend ’16 was on the verge of being cut from his school’s wrestling team. He lacked the passion, determination, and zeal that are necessary characteristics of every successful athlete.
Townsend’s apathy toward wrestling would prove transient, and just one year later he completed a memorable 35-5 season. He was named team captain his junior year, and it was then that he resolved to get 100 wins and become the wrestler he was destined to be.
But becoming a champion caliber wrestler wasn’t all Townsend set out to accomplish. Growing up in adverse conditions, Townsend now looks back proudly upon his accomplishments, and has proven his ability to overcome those adversities by being the first member of his family to attend college.
The Camden, NJ native grew up fatherless, and his mother had the responsibility of caring for Townsend and his five siblings. When the time came to attend high school, Townsend left his hometown of Camden, and enrolling as a boarding student at Milton Hershey.
At Milton Hershey, he excelled athletically as a three-sport athlete all four years of high school and exemplified the highest degree of leadership by spending his spare time helping others in any way he could.
Townsend earned a number of accolades and his academic and athletic successes were nationally recognized. In his senior year, Townsend was honored with one of the most selective athletic awards in Pennsylvania, the John Travers Award. In addition, Townsend was the class vice president for the National Honor Society, and was the winner of Steve Harvey’s Dreamers Academy National Contest. To supplement his success, Townsend capped off his high school career as one of Milton Hershey’s all-time best wrestlers, recording 111 career wins — second most in school history.
Though the prospect of wrestling at the NCAA Division I level at a top tier academic institution was appealing, it was the connection Townsend found between himself and F&M’s wrestling coaches that led him to Lancaster. During the recruiting process, Mike Rogers, head coach of the wrestling team, remained in constant contact with Townsend, checking up on him, attending matches and practices, and just being a friend.
“The beliefs that the coaches had that I also believed in inspired me to come here,” Townsend said. “It’s easy to go D. II or D. III, but knowing that I’m doing it at this level, I wanted to test myself and see where I land within the best of the best. I came to college, set a lot of goals for wrestling, and unfortunately right now I’m injured, but with the coaching staff and other wrestlers, I know I can [meet them], and I’m just hoping for the best.”
As a student, Townsend volunteered at a homeless shelter in Harrisburg, heading groups that assisted with cooking and cleaning. During the summers, he shared his love of wrestling with elementary school students, whom he believes were able to teach him as much as he taught them.
“I knew the little kids were looking up to me and it was something that kept me motivated,” Townsend said. “It taught me self-discipline, hard work, and how to go after whatever you want.”
Townsend also spent his Sunday mornings working with the junior chapel, where he taught elementary age youth how to connect with God in creative ways such as various arts.
Ever since his childhood, Townsend learned never to take anything for granted and to help those in need in any way he knew how. Growing up, Townsend re- lied on the support his mother provided him. Things were never easy as one of six kids in a family with no father. Wrestling provided a fun and competitive outlet, but Townsend always had his sights set on something bigger. He wanted to give back. Townsend dreamed of attending university in order to obtain an education so that one day he’d be able to thank his mother for all she’d done for him. Today, Townsend is doing just that and the wrestling program is the buttress that will be there for the first-year every step of the way.
“I knew Franklin & Marshall was a great school academically and there aren’t too many schools D. III size with a D. I program,” Townsend said. “I know that when I graduate from [F&M] I’m going to set myself up for great things and one day be able to give back to my mom like she gave to me.”
Though his wrestling goals were put on hold for this season following a meniscus tear in his knee during the team’s first match of the season, Townsend has remained a diligent student, an altruistic individual, and a true team player, certain that upon his return to the mat, he will pick up right where he left off.
Questions? Email Jonathan at email@example.com.