As a writer, it is a privilege to listen to the stories behind the individuals or teams that stand out in competition. Often times by the end of the interview when people share these stories there is a bond of respect and appreciation for the uniqueness that characterizes their efforts both on and off of the mat. These are special times when people often open up a bit and share what drives them; it is a time of reflection, a time of transparency, and sometimes it is a time of vulnerability and pain. This story encompasses all of these things. It is a story of friendship, a story of tragedy, a story of dedication, and a story of hope; most importantly it is a story of love…. It is the story of Team Georgie.
I first noticed Team Georgie because they had changed their name from the previous season from Eddy County Wrestlers to Team Georgie. The former Eddy County Wrestlers drew young athletes from all over Eddy County New Mexico making up the 5 teams that comprise the Little Cavemen Wrestling program which was originated by Carlsbad High School coach Ryan Salcido. The Little Cavemen is a wonderfully successful program that feeds some of these tough wrestling kids into the next level squad of Team Georgie. Several incredible men coach Team Georgie including Frank Fuentes, Tomas Villareal, Radell Box, Jeremy Childress, Mike Najera, Justin Owens and other volunteers. I interviewed two vitally important ladies of this extensive program, team moms, Christina Villareal and Katy Fuentes, about the club and its history. When asked “why the name change?” a long and solemn pause occurred. Behind tearful eyes the ladies graciously and painfully explained to me that a prominent and well-loved member of their team had tragically died in an accident while playing in the backyard of his home on January 23, 2015. His name was Kaleb Bindel Box, fondly known by friends and family as “Georgie”.
Kaleb Anthony Bindle Box – “Georgie”
Georgie was no ordinary kid; he was a good looking, outgoing, competitive, and kind wrestler of Olympic quality. His record was astonishing and only exceeded by his sportsmanship. Win or lose this exceptionally gifted athlete would not just shake the hand of his opponent he would give them a heartfelt hug of respect and encouragement prompting them to continue on and keep putting forth their best effort. This 9 year old leader didn’t just reach and exceed his personal potential, he lead by example and inspired others to do reach out for their own goals with commitment and passion. Georgie wasn’t merely a boy who had a whimsical aspiration to become an Olympic wrestler; this kid had a truly viable shot at achieving that goal; he was a wrestling prodigy, and with continued effort and commitment he would have become an all-time great worthy of being placed on a box of “Wheaties”®. Georgie put in the work, he showed up to practice ready to go and full of energy, and he usually stayed late to ask even more of the coaches to continue to push him beyond his comfort zone to help him succeed on the mat.
Georgie in action (left) and with a Championship Trophy from RMN Events (right)
Georgie was a rarity, a truly unique boy who displayed the strength, courage, and goodness of a person who would grow up to be a great and influential man. Tragically, his influence was cut short, but in the brief time he was given he reached out with his whole being and captured the heart of an entire community. A very special and deeply loved young man was heartbreakingly gone, His family was tremendously grief stricken, and his sudden death shocked everyone in Carlsbad, New Mexico especially his young friends on his wrestling team. News stories flooded the airwaves and plastered the newspapers. A very special and much loved young man was suddenly taken from them. What could they do? How could they all deal with the grief? How could the community and the team support Georgie’s family? How could they all honor the life of this special kid who faced the challenges of both wrestling and growing up with such integrity?
Kaleb “Georgie” Bindel Box shown with his mother Rachel Box who raised him
The answer was to rally around the family and the team… to hold a prayer vigil, to support emotionally and financially, to simply be present in the grief and the struggle, to acknowledge the pain, and to love each other well. With a common bond fused together by the pain of loss, the wrestling team agreed that the” Eddy County Wrestlers” should be renamed and reborn as “Team Georgie”. Today Team Georgie isn’t just a wrestling team it is now a family. They have a special team cheer that is a call to action in honor of their own personal fallen hero; they end every practice with it; they open and close every match with it. This is a team that has used the pain of tragedy to help its young wrestlers triumph. Plain and simple… they are overcomers.
I am reminded of one Abraham Lincoln’s most famous quotes, “In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”
Kaleb Anthony “Georgie” Bindel Box personified that ideal. He will be missed but not forgotten.
Associated Wrestling Press