VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 2 Maintenance Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Josh Feldman, was inducted into the Virginia Tech University Hall of Fame, Oct. 7, for his achievements in wrestling and his volunteering dedication in the Hampton Roads community.
Imagine yourself going for a one-mile warm-up run around Lane Stadium at VT. After that sprint up the steps of the bleachers built to hold 70,000 fans, and make sure you hit every step all the way up and all the way down. Next, you transition into buddy carries, pick up your partner and carry him on your back all the way up and all the way down the same bleachers. By now you’re working up a sweat and your breathing harder, next you force yourself to do wheel barrels, you and your partner take turns holding each other’s feet and you walk up the steps on your hands. The last portion of the workout includes several variations of the same exercises including jumping and more sprints. This is just a taste of what it takes to be a Hall of Fame wrestler at VT.
This exercise, according to Feldman, was part of a daily regimen that he and his other teammates subjected themselves to in order to keep themselves physically conditioned during the off season while attending VT. After the wrestling season had begun their workout would become more intense.
“A preseason week would consist of three weight lifting sessions and three cardio workouts and usually two mat workouts,” said Feldman. “The season would officially begin in November, and then we would reduce the lifting to two times a week, and mats six days a week with some extra run days.”
Feldman’s tough training regime and focus paid off. By the time Feldman graduated in 1994, he had won three consecutive Colonial Athletic Association heavyweight championship titles and placed seventh his senior year at the National Collegiate Athletic Association championships, giving him the honor of becoming Virginia Techs second All American in wrestling. Feldman is still tied for sixth all-time at VT in career pins with 23.
Feldman noted that one of his most memorable wrestling moments was when he beat Tolly Thompson from the University of Nebraska at the 1994 NCAA Championships. This earned Feldman his first All American wrestler title. Thompson was a freshman at the time and would later go on to win the championship the following year, and place third in both his junior and senior year.
“That is one match I would like to get back,” said Thompson now assistant wrestling coach for the University of Northern Iowa. “I remember he was a very big and strong heavy weight, he knocked me out of the tournament that year. That match was one of my motivators to go on the next three years and become an NCAA Champion and three-time All American – I often think back to that match and use it for motivation for young wrestlers I coach today.”
Feldman’s wrestling career did not end at graduation, after his time at VT he was an assistant wrestling coach at the University of Virginia until 1996 when he was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Navy and later designated as a naval aviator. Capitalizing on his wrestling achievements the Navy chose Feldman to compete on the All-Navy wrestling team, where he twice earned the title of All American, representing the Navy in the U.S. Open Wrestling Championships in the 120 kilograms (264 pounds) Greco-Roman Competition. In 2005 he again represented the U.S. wrestling team and placed fifth in the Conseil International du Sport Militaire world championships in Vilnius, Lithuania, and later that year placed first in Israel’s Maccabi Games.
Feldman was inducted into the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame alongside Women’s National Basketball Association player Tere Williams, two National Football League players Shayne Grahm and Phil Rogers, and Major League Baseball World Series Champion Brad Clontz.
“It came as quite a shock to me to get the letter telling me I’d been chosen,” said Feldman. “The magnitude of the honor VT gave to me didn’t really sink in until I did a little research and saw others who were already in, this is pretty select company to be associated with and I am still a bit speechless about it.”
Today, Feldman is with MSRON 2 on a six-month deployment to Kuwait, and he says that the Navy helped him become the man he is today.
“Wrestling at VT helped to get me in the Navy and be physically prepared to succeed in Officer Candidate School, but the maturity and attention to detail that I developed in the Navy allowed me to continue to compete successfully as a wrestler while I was an instructor pilot in Pensacola,” said Feldman. “That tough schedule forced me to keep a very keen attention to everything I was doing and I think that now carries over to all aspects of my life.”
When Feldman is not deployed he spends time coaching at a non-profit wrestling club he founded in Chesapeake, Va. According to Feldman the goal of the club is to allow athletes from any school in the area to come and train together to promote the sport of wrestling in southeast Virginia.
“How successful you are simply depends on how ambitious you are and how hard you are willing to work to reach your goals,” said Feldman. “Without wrestling I cannot even imagine where I would be right now so I want to pass that opportunity on to others.”
At the hall of fame dinner banquet, VT Hall of Fame members and guests gathered to honor this year’s selectees. The next day Feldman, and his fellow inductees, were invited to the VT home football game against the University of Miami and introduced on the field during halftime to fans filling the same seats Feldman exercised on during his time as a student.
“That stands out the most for me,” said Feldman. “I had spent a lot of time running those stadium steps for wrestling but to be out there being cheered by 70,000 people wearing VT maroon and orange was really moving.”