Patrick Jenkins Wrestler and patriot

By Kim Richardson
Star Correspondent
If you sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed with life's labors, with the menial and emotional tribulations associated with being parents or guardians, perhaps you should consider the Jenkins family. 
It's so difficult, having to awaken one or two, and sometimes even three of four siblings. To have to get them dressed and head them off to catch the school bus can sometimes be almost too much to bear.
Add to that all the sleepless nights, all the worries, the countless prayers.
Alan and Sheena Jenkins understand; they can empathize. But could we ever empathize with them?
The Jenkins had to raise their children, too. They had to get them up, feed them and help them find their shoes, books, pencils. 
And then dad had to head off to his own little job. Mom often had to do it all on her own because dad was off to work early. In fact, dad would sometimes work out of town for long periods of time.
Judging from the looks of Patrick, "Pat," the Jenkins have done quite well. He appears the epitome of health. Though only 5-9, 145 pounds, he looks every bit a sprite, well-nourished, youngster. He certainly seems socially adapted. He's liked by everyone who takes the time to get to know him. 
Pat is friendly, even gregarious, plus he's the only child still living at home. He's the last of the 10 -- you read it right, 10 -- Jenkins children who range from Pat's age of 17 to sister Sharanda's near-40. 
Mrs. Jenkins informs us that, "When Patrick graduates this year we will have had children in public schools for 35 years, sometimes six at a time."
Wrestling is brutal enough for its participants and it can be downright heart-wrenching for a mother.  "I've seen him cut, bleeding, bruised, knocked out and choked twice to where he could not get up off the mat," Sheena Jenkins said. "To me, for him to go back out onto the mat is pure dedication." 
But it isn't as though Pat gets hurt every time out. It isn't like no one whom he has wrestled ever left in pain, in defeat. In fact, Patrick Jenkins has walked away victorious 125 times, five times more than he's lost in his four years of competition. 
That's a lot of victories, but there were the losses, and there will probably be more.  "He beats himself up when he loses, but he is there for the other boys if they lose," his mother explained. 
His father told us, "He has his up-and-down days as most of us do, but he recovers quickly and moves on with his life. It has to be that way because in wrestling you don't have teammates to pick up the slack if you are having a bad day. It is you, and you alone who must overcome your opponent." 
And though wrestling is an individual sport, it takes much more than the one guy on the mat to make a wrestling team successful.
"Definitely," stated Jenkins. "When I'm on the mat, it's me against the other guy. But I'm competing for something bigger than me; my teammates are a big part of it. I wrestle for a lot of reasons, but most of all I wrestle because I love to."
"He has teachers who have helped him academically and they've also helped him to develop as a good person," said his dad. "He's a very sociable person. He has many friends and even friends on the opposing teams who he talks to after the match, win or lose." 
Pat even wants to wrestle after high school. He hopes to attend, and wrestle for Spartanburg Methodist College. "But," he adds, "if I don't go to college immediately, I'll be happy to serve my country, either in the Navy or the Marine Corps."
He's not only tough, he's very patriotic. When he talks about his father, one gets the sense of his pride, his patriotism. 
Dad, as it turns out, is no stranger to competition himself. Alan Jenkins retired as a Naval Officer, a fighter pilot. That was Alan Jenkins' "little" job. 
But Pat's dad didn't do it the traditional way. He began his naval career as an enlisted man.
"I just worked my way through the ranks," Alan stated nonchalantly.  Those of us who served within those enlisted ranks realize what an impressive achievement that was.
Elizabethton High School head coach Bill Potter has watched Jenkins develop into not only one of the best wrestlers on his team, but one of the best in the region.
"He puts so much into it," said Potter. "Pat is so determined and very hard-working.  You don't win that many matches by simply going through the routine. Plus he's very well-conditioned. We really stress conditioning here."
Jenkins reciprocates the respect he receives from Coach Potter.
"He's meant so much to me," Jenkins said. "Gosh, he's worked us so hard, but that's the biggest part of it. We've won so many matches just by being better conditioned than our opponents. So yeah, I must give Coach Potter a lot of credit because he knows, and he's made us realize how hard you have to work to win."
"Not only Coach Potter," Jenkins continued, "but also Randy Little. He coached us when we were freshmen, and he still comes around and helps out. He's a coach and a friend. I think we all, including Coach (Potter), think a lot of Randy."
"Mitch Cornett is a teammate who challenges me. It takes that," Jenkins said. "We're individuals, but we need each other, not only for team wins, but we have to challenge each other to reach our limits. Mitch pushes me to do my very best."
It hasn't always been easy. Jenkins readily admits that he has a lot to learn. But he recalls very fondly how far he's come since first suiting up for the Cyclones.
"I've learned a lot these four years," he said. "It hasn't always been easy, that's for sure." 
He couldn't be more correct. Just ask his mother and father.
"Patrick has qualities that would make any parent proud," said his dad. "He is an honest, friendly and dedicated Christian boy who loves his country. But watching him wrestle can be so hard on his parents. We stretch and work in the stands trying to help him get out of some of the holds they can put on him."
"No, it wasn't easy, still isn't," mom recalled. "We are so very proud of Patrick and what he's accomplished. But most of all, we love him."