Douglas Connor Jr. OPC '88 vividly recalls the wooden bleachers in the Old Gym and the parents who occupied those seats during PC wrestling matches.
“It’s a fond memory,” said Connor. “The bleachers would be pulled out, and Mrs. Shaifer would sit on one corner, on the left side, knitting away her nervous energy. My mother would sit on the same side, tormented by anxiety. Dad would slip in and sit on the right side.”
Douglas Connor knew when his namesake son would wrestle based on weight class, and he would drive to Penn Charter just in time for the match. “My father knew I would wrestle between 3:50 and 4:05. He would arrive in time, watch me and my best friends Charles Fischer and Jeff Zieger, then hop back in his car and return to work in the city.”
Connor has made a gift to the Graham Athletics & Wellness Center to name the new wooden bleachers in the Wrestling Room the Connor Family Bleachers in honor of his parents, Doug and Corky Connor. “My parents were always in those bleachers and so were the six, seven, eight sets of parents of my friends—always there and always encouraging us. This gift is fitting and apropos.”
Connor, one of the winningest wrestlers in Penn Charter history, caught the wrestling bug in Middle School when he joined the sixth grade team coached by Henry Bender. He began wrestling on varsity in eighth grade for coaches Val Erdmanis and Chuck Hitschler. Connor is grateful for his coaches’ support and small kindnesses, like permission to nap for 20 minutes in Erdmanis’ office, and to the parents who created a supportive wrestling community.
“My mom came to all my matches. She had a catering company, and at different away tournaments she would pack a breakfast box, oranges, egg salad sandwiches for everyone. At home, she would feed everyone in the parking lot after weigh-in. If kids couldn’t get rides, my parents, along with a handful of others like the Donnellys, the Sgrigniolis, the Ziegers, shuttled a couple of extra kids around. It was a community, tight knit and supportive.”
His parents continued their support when he wrestled for Division 1 for four years at Boston University, and Connor has learned by example. Even as he built a successful finance career in fixed-income sales and trading he has tried to not miss the high school, college and semi-pro games of his daughter (field hockey) and son (ice hockey). “I know what it means to them and to me.” PC