CRANFORD – One of the few positive things to arise from the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has been orchestrated by Cranford residents Pat and Amanda Hogan.
An idea that originated from Pat’s mind late last year started to bear fruit in the spring and fully materialized in early October with the publication of “Wrestling the Alphabet – an ABC Book of American Wrestling Greats.”
“It was last December and I was thinking it would be cool if there was something like this for kids,” said Pat. “There were really no non-fiction books out there devoted to wrestling for children.”
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And Pat knows something about wrestling himself as the 2006 Cranford High graduate won the 171-pound New Jersey state title his senior year on center mat at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Pat, who is also a member of the Cranford High School Hall of Fame, earned a B.A. in Biblical and Religious Studies from Messiah College and currently works at Corcoran Real Estate in New York. Amanda, a 2006 graduate of Roselle Catholic, is an elementary teacher at Pave Academy in Brooklyn, NY. The two, both 32, were high school sweethearts and have been married for 10 years. They reside in Cranford along with their bulldog, Carl and dachshund, Penny.
“We were really brainstorming during the early days of quarantine,” said Amanda. “We set out to do something productive and Pat’s idea was a great one.”
The book, which is illustrated and in full color, spotlights a different wrestler – or in one case, wrestlers – for each letter of the alphabet. It focuses on amateur wrestlers who reached heights in their sport in college and also those that have tasted Olympic glory.
The Garden State is well-represented with such stars as Frank Molinaro (letter F), Jordan Burroughs (J) and Donny Pritzlaff (P) just to name a few. Each entry has a full illustrated picture with an accompanying page of text that highlights the wrestler’s achievements. Amanda did the write-ups with input and statistics from Pat. A printing of 100 copies was produced initially with a larger installment slated for the end of October.
“It is self-published, so we definitely learned a lot about production and what goes into this sort of project,” said Pat. “We invested a lot of money into this, but it’s been enjoyable.”
“If there’s a positive side to social media, its something like this where we can spread the word nationally,” said Pat. “It’s been fun to message with people from places like Kansas or Iowa.”
They have also heard from several wrestlers that are actually in the book, which has been a pleasant surprise.
“Jordan Oliver (O) told us how honored he is to be in the book, which blew us away,” said Pat. “And I’ve heard from someone that knows Dan Gable (D) that he saw the book and loved it.”
Jacarra Winchester (W), who won the gold medal at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships, recently posted a video of herself enjoying the book on her Facebook page.
“With so many wrestlers and only 26 letters, we wanted a diverse cross-section and I feel we did that,” said Pat. “The book has a good representation as we wanted to feature women as well as people of color.”
The Hogans are looking to market to wrestling clubs and tournaments, schools, libraries as well as families.
“Who knows what child will pick up the book and want to get more involved in wrestling?” Pat began. “To me, it’s a way to give back to the sport I love and continue to help it grow.”
Available on the website is the actual book for $19.99, a coloring book for $8.99 and a poster for $14.99. One can also donate a book to Beat the Streets New York for the price of $10.99. A portion of each book sold also goes to the Beat the Streets NY organization, which helps to develop the athletic potential of urban youth and strengthen the culture of New York City Wrestling.
The Hogans have already received about 30-40 donation orders and books are available for pre-order now with shipping starting in mid-November.
“We know our moms are going to love everything we do,” said Amanda. “But to hear from strangers in South Dakota or New Mexico via social media that they’ve heard about it and are interested in it, that’s very cool.”
In addition to its website, the book also has pages on Facebook and Instagram under its title.
“I absolutely wouldn’t have envisioned this at the beginning of the year,” said Amanda. “It’s been surreal, but it’s a great feeling to have something to show for the last few months.”
With an infinite number of wrestlers out there, are there sequels in the works?
“That’s definitely a possibility, and we have a couple of ideas that we’re thinking of,” said Pat. “We know the infrastructure now and have a knowledge base with this one, so we’ll see what the future brings.”