The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Athlete of the Week: Peter Ferrera

Basic Information:
Name: Peter Ferrara
Year: Senior
Weight class: 149 lbs.

2009 record: 17-10 overall, 7-5 dual meets
Career record: 50-32 overall, 12-9 dual meets

How did you first get into wrestling?
You will find that wrestling is mostly a family sport, and most of the time it gets passed on from generation to generation. Most of the kids out here, their dads wrestled, their brothers wrestled. My dad wrestled and my uncle actually wrestled here for a year, my older brother wrestled and my two younger brothers actually wrestle, too. It is a big family sport.

How did you make your way to U.Va.?
I wasn’t highly recruited in high school, so I was planning on doing pre-med. I was going to go through school keeping wrestling in my life, but not making it such a huge priority, so I was planning on going to Johns Hopkins and playing D-3. I made the decision and I got in, but when I was a senior in high school my brother [who went to Hopkins] passed away. He was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to go to Johns Hopkins. It was a good school — it was a program that I was really interested in — but it was mostly because of my brother. I kind of grew out of the emotions. My uncle went here and my dad went here; they lived together and they have that chemistry together. That was something I was really looking forward to, and when my brother passed away, it was like there was no reason for me to go to Johns Hopkins ... People say things happen for a reason; I went back to visit Johns Hopkins and I wouldn’t have been happy there. But here, it took a while for me to get used to things, but I am real comfortable here now and I get to be a part of D-1 wrestling program and not a D-3 wrestling program. My second choice should have been my first choice.

What do you plan to do after graduation?
I was lucky enough to get accepted to three medical schools. One of them was University of Kentucky, which I don’t plan on going to. The other two are in Pennsylvania: Thomas Jefferson University is in Philadelphia, which is 45 minutes away from my house, and Penn State in Hershey, Penn., which is where my father went. That is probably where I am going to go, so there are no worries right now. All the hard work has paid off and I can relax now. It is a great feeling to know what you are doing.

What is it like to have the coaches wrestle with the team?
We are a very lucky program because all of our coaches wrestle with us ... [Coach Scott] Moore is way past his prime. He has had three shoulder surgeries but he is still going strong ... His shoulders are probably hanging by threads, but he can still kick all of our asses. Coach [Matt] Pell is probably the most technical and fluid wrestler I have ever seen; I don’t know how he didn’t win a national title ... [Coach Steve] Garland still wrestles with the smaller guys. Pell will wrestle the middle and heavyweights. Coach Moore will wrestle pretty much anybody. He will wrestle the heavyweights because he is an idiot when it comes to weight. He doesn’t have any fear. He actually causes most of the injuries in the room to his own wrestlers. We are really lucky to have all of our coaches wrestle and you will not see that anywhere else ... I wrestled the No. 3 kid in the country but it is not that big of a deal because I wrestle a national runner-up everyday and not only that, he has man-strength. He’s got a kid. When you have a baby you just naturally get stronger.

What is with the hair in your picture?
I have gone through many different hairstyles. The blonde hair was an experiment, I saw some kid over the summer with my complexion and I liked it, so I just tried it out. Of course, my parents flipped out. I am an adventurous person when it comes to that. When I first got here I had dreadlocks, if you can believe that ... I used to wrestle with a cap and pull it all back. I have found many different styles over the years. Some people like it, some people don’t.

In wrestling how important is it to watch what you eat?
It is very different than any other sport. It is very simply: You are what eat. With wrestling you have to watch what you eat nutritionally, but you also have to watch what you eat weight-wise, especially when it comes close to competition. You can say, I can have this bottle of water that is a pound, or I can eat this whole box of crackers that would be thousands of calories, but is much lighter. It is a different type of weight watching, but it is really important ... Being a good wrestler is also learning to be very disciplined. There are plenty of kids out there that have the potential to be very good, but they just can’t control their diet.

Do you have any pre-match rituals or any superstitions?
My ritual is I sit and try to relax before my match and try to get my mind on something else, but it is really hard. I have a set list of songs that kind of get me in that mood: Puff Daddy, “Victory,” Lil’ Wayne, “Sky’s the Limit,” Ludacris, “Get Back.” I will listen to Foreigner and “Hot Blooded” because they will get me in that mood. Some of it is just getting into an angry mood or getting ready for a fight and some of it [is about getting] into a confident, cocky mood ... If you watch me before my match, I might be cheering a little bit, but once I put my headphones on, I have a cocky grin on my face and I will pace back and forth ... Sometimes I hit myself to get the blood flowing and kind of shock the system ... You need to be cocky — that is why coach Moore will kick anybody’s ass because he doesn’t care who he wrestles. He is so cocky that he will try to throw the biggest guy in the room ... When it comes to wrestling and getting in the mood to wrestle, you have to be cocky and fearless and just ready for the fight. There are times in wrestling when it is easy to say, ‘I am going to roll over and pin myself.’ That is the beauty of wrestling: You can be losing 14-0, on the verge of getting [technical] falled, and you can pin and end the match and win.

—compiled by Ben Gomez


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