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Pieces of Eight


From Wrestler to Writer: ECU Instructor Pens Novel

By Christine Neff

Milt Sherman, an instructor in East Carolina University’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science, recently published a young adult novel drawn from his vast experience as a wrestling athlete and coach.

Sherman joined his high school’s wrestling team at age 14, a decision, he said, that changed the course of his life. He continued his athletic career at East Carolina University, achieving an impressive 101-13 record. After college, he became a teacher and wrestling coach at D.H. Conley High School, rallying his teams to 470 wins, including a state championship.

Wrestling brought this former All-American and member of the ECU Athletic Hall of Fame success, not just in athletics, but in life, he said. “I never would have enrolled in college if I hadn’t gone out for the wrestling team in the ninth grade.

“For many kids, sports are the key influence,” he said.


Recently, Sherman turned his experiences on and off the mat into a young adult novel called, “Wrestling Spoken Here.” Self-published, the book follows high school sophomore Robbie Renfro through his first season as an athlete while he deals with trouble at home, racial tension and a neighborhood bully.

“Though the book is a work of fiction, a lot of the situations are similar to experiences I had coaching thousands of kids over the years,” Sherman said.

And the lessons are the same, too.

Through sports, Robbie gains confidence and friends, enjoys going to school more and learns that extra effort can mean extra rewards. “Athletics are not the only place where kids will hear these lessons, but frequently, it sinks in better in that environment,” Sherman said.
Well aware of how athletics can shape a person’s life, Sherman said, in writing the book he tapped into another powerful force: creativity.
“I’m not an active wrestler; I’m not an active coach. So writing the book was a creative outlet for me,” he said. “As a young athlete, I did not look upon wrestling as a creative activity; it was physical activity. But looking back on it now, I realize that athletics and coaching are areas of creativity because you have to think fast, make decisions and react in your own way.”

For additional information or to purchase a copy of the book, go to and click on the book title or e-mail

This page originally appeared in the Jan. 30, 2009 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at