Family is wrestling royalty
March 19, 2013
By Joe Grove
Skyline’s Steciw brothers have each won championships
When asked how many boxes of Wheaties it took to raise three high school wrestling champions, Tammy Fullum just laughed and said, “A lot.”
Fullum’s youngest son, Tristan Steciw, a junior at Skyline High School, won the 2013 4A KingCo wrestling championship match in the 132-pound weight class in February. His Skyline wrestling team also won the KingCo wrestling championship for the first time in its history, Tristan said.
“I was informed … that Tristan’s win made me the only mother in 30 years to have three sons win KingCo championships,” Fullum emailed.
Fullum said she has not personally checked the records, but she is proud of her sons’ accomplishments.
Following in his brothers’ footsteps
Tristan followed in the footsteps of Tyler and Tannor Steciw, older brothers who were both high school wrestling champions. Both were KingCo champs in 2007. Tristan said it was his older brothers’ successes that inspired him to wrestle.
“It inspired me to work hard and be as good as they were, if not better,” Tristan said.
So, was he as good or better?
“Both of them won KingCo and one of them won a match at state,” he said. “So far, I’ve done that. Now, I just have to place at state and I’ve done better.”
Tristan has one more year to compete.
Fullum takes some credit for her sons’ interest in the sport.
“I loved to watch wrestling in high school, which was strange because, obviously, I’m a girl, not that girls can’t like wrestling,” she said. “I attended the wrestling meets, and I loved them. I watched every single weight class.
“Fast forward. I had these children, and Tyler came home in the sixth grade and said, ‘I want to wrestle,’ and I said, ‘OK.’”
That was about 10 years ago.
The spirit of the competition
Tyler is now a manager of a Sprint store in San Diego, Calif. Tannor attended Bellevue Community College and lives in Issaquah.
“A big person who had a lot of influence on my sons’ wrestling interests was Patrick Ford, who was a coach at Beaver Lake Middle School,” she said.
Ford, along with others, coached all three of Fullum’s sons.
“He really did a lot to build that program,” she said.
Fullum said it was a new and emotional world watching her sons wrestle. Her sons were involved in all school sports from kindergarten on. She said wrestling is such a different sport from the others.
“I had always raised my children not to fight or be violent, and wrestling is not a violent sport, but to see them in this situation where they are needing to physically defend themselves and survive was kind of different for me,” she said. “I have seen mothers over the years who cannot go to watch their sons wrestle, because it is difficult and emotional. I was like that right away for the first times I attended.”
She said that initial reaction was a real surprise to her.
“I actually cried a little bit in the beginning, because I was pretty emotional,” she said. “When you become a mother, everything in the world changes. Right?”
It didn’t take her long to get into the spirit of the competition.
“My first son was getting beaten pretty badly during one of his first matches, and I jokingly said to him from the sideline, ‘Honey, you go out there and do a good job, and if you don’t, mommy will come out there and help you,’” she said. “And I swear, those boys have done well ever since. That was a turning point.”
Personal dedication, strong desire
Fullum’s sons are not big. Tyler wrestled at 125 pounds, Tannor was 103 pounds. Tristan won in the 132-pound class.
So, what went into their excelling in the sport? Fullum said it was their personal dedication to the sport and a real strong desire to succeed and to do their best at that moment and throughout the season.
That desire to excel led to a few unusual things around the house.
“At home, they made weight rooms out of any room they could,” Fullum said. “There were pull-up bars in every room in the house. There were makeshift mats on the floors from the time they were little. There were weight benches in the garage and barbells on the bedroom floors.”
Fulllum said her sons only wrestled during the school wrestling season, so they were “three-monthers.” Wrestling season affected more than the furniture.
“In season, everything revolves around wrestling and their dietary needs,” Fullum said. “Every boy had to make weight, so it was a constant four to five months of every single day and every single meal controlling what they eat.”
Fullum is a vegetarian, and so it was up to the boys to be responsible for what they ate and what they weighed. They had to have what they needed, whether it was a steak or something else.
“I would say, ‘Here’s the money. Go down to Front Street Market and buy your steaks and cook them, whatever you need honey,’” she said.
The boys never had to gain weight. With them, it was always a matter of maintaining or losing weight.
“It was their responsibility, and they were disciplined at it,” she said. “When you don’t make weight as a wrestler, you are letting down your team.”
You have to stay focused
Tristan said his key to staying on a winning track is focus.
“You want to go with your friends, eat junk food and not do your homework,” he said. “Being focused is the hardest thing. Focused on wrestling and the things that affect it. It is a lot mental, too, so you have to stay mentally focused.”
Fullum is a photographer as well as a mother, and her boys became subject matter for her pictures.
“It has been wonderful to see their transformations and growth through my lens,” she said. “It has been wonderful to photograph a decade of athletes, to see all their triumphs and struggles and to see those heart-breaking moments. It has been good training as a photographer as well.”
Her advice to those parents trying to shoot their kids’ wrestling pictures with cellphones is to invest in a mid-level DSLR (digital single lens reflect) camera.
“People should put the money into that, because those are memories, and they are priceless,” she said.
It’s worth it in the end
Fullum believes her sons benefited greatly from their high school wrestling.
“There is a saying in the wrestling world that once you have wrestled, everything else is easy,” she said. “Nothing is ever easy in life, regardless of what you have achieved, but the sport did a lot to prepare them for the real world. They learned to be humble and to respect others. Equally important is that wrestling teaches perseverance and dedication.”
Tristan said the most difficult thing is pushing though those difficult practices.
“You’d go through the door really exhausted, and you were also cutting weight and not eating very much food. You’d think it was almost unfair, and you didn’t want to do it anymore,” he said. “You just have to remind yourself it is worth it in the end.”
He said his mother helped in that regard, because she would say he could quit next year if he wanted, but he couldn’t quit in the middle of a season.
He said he learned persistence from his mother and his older brothers. He said his brothers would put him in a headlock and not release him until he figured out how to escape. He said there were times he really wanted to quit, but the persistence he learned from his brothers kept him on the winning track.