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ACL tear changes York College wrestler’s perspective

Eric during wrestling match

Eric Hutchinson ’21 went into his sophomore year at York College of Pennsylvania thinking it’d be just another “dominant” wrestling season. On an early day in December, he entered the New Standard Corporation Invitational as the top seed, but in a matter of seconds, everything changed.

During a match, Eric found his knee in an odd bent position. He tried to get up and continue to wrestle with 10 seconds left, but his knee kept giving out. Something was wrong.

Eric later discovered he tore his ACL, MCL, and medial meniscus. He had surgery later in the month and started rehabbing his knee. However, he knew he would have a huge disadvantage wrestling during the following season.

“Now I realize, with my wrestling career, you never know what’s going to happen,” Eric says. “Treat every match like it’s your last. I really saw the light with that.”

Coming back better than before

Eric, a Supply Chain Operations Management major from Wayne, Pennsylvania, dedicated himself to his rehabilitation and training. He didn’t go past what doctors told him he could do, and he attended physical therapy three times a week. With help from a trainer, he started learning how to engage his core and worked to get over both mental and physical barriers.

After cracking the last bit of scar tissue while wrestling with his trainer, Eric hasn’t felt any pain in his knee. He’s wrestled better this season than he had during his past two, he says. He came back this year and won the 2019-2020 New Standard Invitational—the first York wrestler to win the tournament in 11 years.

“I knew no one really expected me to come back this season and be who I am right now. Because coming back from an ACL tear, most wrestlers wrestle scared throughout the season,” Eric says. “I mentally said, ‘You know what, it is what it is. I’m going to have to work harder than anyone else and come back and prove I’m better than what I was last year.’”

Cooking with chef Eric

While rehabbing his knee over the summer, Eric discovered another passion besides wrestling: cooking. After being asked to make dinner for his girlfriend and her family, Eric decided to make BBQ chicken breast. He had nearly 10 hours to do it with little to no experience cooking.

He ended up marinating the chicken, while cooking asparagus, vegetables, and garlic bread, which turned out to be “the best chicken” his hosts had ever had. His friends and girlfriend urged him to make a cooking page with a comedic twist.

Enter @mr.chef_hutchinson. Videos range from a BBQ with the whole wrestling team to what a wrestler would eat pre-match. He even shows the meals that don’t work out, such as a tater tot casserole. However, what started out as a joke now has a pretty serious following.

“My little sister loves it—she’s 13,” Eric says. “My grandmother and my great aunt actually just made an Instagram page because they wanted to follow it.”

The page has also sparked an unexpected love of cooking. Eric found it wasn’t easy to cook all the recipes he was making, but he’s starting to add his own spices and create add-ons to meals. Whether he’s on the wrestling mat or in the kitchen, he’s overcoming challenges and finding joy in both.