A Mighty Change of Plans

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ethan Smith’s winding path to success

Kyle McDonald | Sports Writer | @kylesportsconflicts

Courtesy Wolverine Green

Courtesy Wolverine Green

The Big 10 Conference is known for its great wrestling teams.  Many wrestlers set their sights on being able to wrestle for those storied programs.  Ethan Smith is no different.  The senior from Midway, Utah received a scholarship offer from Purdue University and took it. 

After serving a two-year mission in Chile for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Smith began his college wrestling career at Purdue where he wanted to study engineering.  He actually redshirted his first year at Purdue but they wanted to pull his redshirt because in practice he was beating the guys that he was wrestling against.  Smith didn’t go for it because according to him, he “was still feeling really out of shape.” 

The summer after his freshman year at Purdue, something changed for Smith.  He had a notion that he needed to be closer to his family and even though he felt like he was set up for a lot of success at Purdue, he couldn’t ignore the feeling that he was having.  Upon his return to Utah, he found out his dad had cancer.  Some might call giving up a scholarship to a Big 10 school a sacrifice, but Smith doesn’t look at it as such a thing.

“I am way glad I did come home,” Smith said. He was able to be with his dad throughout the battle with cancer and was able to wrestle in front of his dad who was “his biggest fan.”

Coming home also enabled Smith to be there for his mom throughout the ordeal.

“It was really emotional and something I still struggle with,” Smith said when talking about wrestling for his dad, who was in his corner during every match. It was very hard for Smith, knowing that these were the last matches that his father would ever see.

The last match that his father watched him wrestle was a qualifying match for nationals in which Smith tore his hamstring and had to grind his way just to get into overtime.

“I ended up losing in overtime because I couldn’t move . . . it was really emotional knowing that was my last time,” he stated.

His junior season might not have ended the way he wanted it to but his senior season started off with a bang.  In June, 2014 he married fellow UVU student-athlete Morgan Summers who plays on the UVU softball team.  Smith says that even though it’s tough at times because their schedules don’t match and they have to go on road trips, he knows he is a blessed man and that he made the right decision as well in coming home because he wouldn’t be in this same situation had he stayed at Purdue.

When Smith decided to come back to UVU and contacted Coach Erkin Tadzhimetov, there was no hesitation. UVU was waiting with open arms and now Smith hopes to lead the Wolverines to a conference championship and hopes that along with many of his teammates, he can qualify for nationals.  He wants to finish strong and put the icing on the cake of a great career and show the world that no matter the obstacles, adversity, or trials, he can still be and has been very successful.