The Tigers' Brad Eubanks faces a familiar face at every practice
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
When Hartselle wrestler Brad Eubanks gets into the sparring ring at team practices, he gets a chance to show his dad everything he's learned.
That is because Brian, Brad's father, has been his practice partner for three years now and has been helping Hartselle's wrestling program for four years total. Brian explained that heavyweights in wrestling need to have a similar body size to spar against, and since there was no comparable body on the team, he agreed to be his son's sparring partner.
Brian graduated from Falkville, which did not participate in wrestling, but has gained experience from several different teachers.
"I was at King's Southern Karate for four years on and off, and (King) was a great teacher," Brian said. "(Previous Hartselle wrestling coach) Keith Corder taught me some. (Current Hartselle assistant wrestling coach) Stan Elliott probably taught me the most. I've had to adapt all that knowledge to make it work with the big guys, cause when you're dealing with heavier weight, momentum is a lot more important than just moves and technical skill."
Brian's participation in Hartselle practices allows Brad to work on leverage moves and other skills that would not be possible with a smaller wrestler as a sparring partner. Brad, who has been wrestling since fourth grade, said that he believes practicing against his father gives him an advantage over most high school heavyweights.
"His moves involve a lot more thought than some of the guys I see during the season," Brad said. "He's also probably better at agility and movement; he's a lot faster than most of the other guys I've seen. Those are two things I've got working in my advantage when I spar with him."
Brian ran the city wrestling league program for two years before he started helping Hartselle's heavyweights. Brian first sparred with Michael Klaver for a year before working with Brad and Hartselle's 215-pound class wrestlers over the next three years.
Brian laughs when asked his wife Sue's opinion of the unique father-son relationship on the mat.
"She's real excited about it," he said. "She and her mother go to every meet. If I was lying home sick in bed, I'm sure they'd still be going to watch Brad wrestle at the meet."
Brian, who runs a machine shop in Massey, said that he hardly ever misses a practice. He added that when he is at practice and spars with Brad, the other Tigers always take note.
Just because they are father and son, Brad and Brian do not take it easy on each other.
"We are the roughest team in the room most times," Brian said. "Sometimes at practice everyone plays this game called King of the Mat. You start with the lightest kids on the team and let them wrestle, and then whoever wins moves on to face the next biggest kid. By the time it gets to Brad, I end up the last guy to wrestle with him for King of the Mat. "All the other boys always say, 'Oh, y'all are too rough!' But I always reply, 'I'm only here for one reason, and that's to help him win state.'"
Brad and Brian's battles sometimes end up with more than just bruised egos. Brad recalls a time in practice where he separated Brian's shoulder.
"This was back when I was younger," he said. "It was kind of his fault, really. We were practicing some lateral throws and after practice he wanted me to try one more with him. So I get onto the mat and I threw him, but he didn't twist back because he didn't want to hurt me. He ended up landing on its shoulder and got it separated."
Brian laughed and showed a finger on his left hand, wrapped in bandages.
"He's hurt me a few times," Brian said. "But I've done the same thing to him, so we're even there."
Of course, that brings up the big question – who usually wins?
"It really depends on which day," Brian said with a chuckle. "He gets the best of me most of the times this year. This year he's a lot stronger than previous years. It depends on which day, how he feels, and how I feel. Right now it's probably pretty close to even."