Be a Tourist in Your Own Community: A Fresh Look at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Story and photos provided by Visit Stillwater with permission from Nedra McDaniel

Last year we launched the series “Be a Tourist in Your Own Community” highlighting tips and suggestions about experiencing unique events and attractions in your own backyard. It is easy to forget the gems we have when they become a part of our daily experiences.  As residents, we pass by them on our drives to work and to the grocery store. Local gems fade into our familiar landscape. We are reminded, however, when travel writers explore Stillwater with a fresh set of visitor eyes, the importance and value of telling the story of these local treasures. Nedra McDaniel visited Stillwater last summer on a press trip and wrote a blog entitled, ““The Museum That Actually Made Me Interested in Wrestling,” about her experience at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum.

As we start the new year, we challenge you to look around our community with a fresh perspective. Visit places you’ve been a million times and places you never thought about visiting at all. With McDaniel’s permission, we are sharing her blog entry to inspire newfound experiences in Stillwater.  

(Visit AdventureMomBlog.com for a collection of images taken during her visit.)

The Museum That Actually Made Me Interested in Wrestling by Nedra McDaniel

“I’ll admit that I wasn’t super excited when I found out that we would be visiting a museum dedicated to wrestling. Now, I’m not talking about WWE style, I’m talking about the type of wrestling that you see in the Olympics or at your local high school. Wrestling was not a big sport in my high school so my two memories connected to wrestling were guys who probably didn’t make the football team sweating on each other, and a guy on the wrestling team wanting to open all the windows in our classroom in the middle of winter to help him make weight.

I went to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in Stillwater, Oklahoma with an open mind and discovered it to be very interesting which pleasantly surprised me and made me regret that I judged the sport unfairly.

The museum is very interactive. As you enter the building, you will pass a podium that you can stand on for pictures to remember your visit.

We were also given a selfie stick to use during our visit. Kids who visit are given the challenge to locate all of the American flags placed throughout the museum.

The museum takes your through the history of wrestling. You learn about presidential ties to the sport, wrestling positions through an interactive display, military ties, and the evolution of the sport.  The stories about the athletes during the tour really draw you in. They make you want to know more about them and appreciate each of their stories of determination in overcoming adversity in some shape or form.

I loved that the museum displayed more than just a name when they gave honor. You got to see the uniqueness of each person in their portrait.

My favorite part of the museum was the collection of Olympic memorabilia. I went to one event at the ’96 Olympics in Atlanta and I recognized a lot of items from previous Olympics which was really cool to see in person.  You can even stand on the podium used in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.  

The interactive displays are really what set this museum apart. There are several touch screens throughout the museum where you can look up a wrestler’s name and find information about their wrestling career.  Cristy from Visit Stillwater found her dad’s name in the system who was a great wrestler. It was such a treat to be with her as she discovered that her dad was included in the museum for the 1st time.

 

There is even a display screen that has footage from wrestling matches that you can watch. Collegiate athletes will enjoy the displays of singlets worn by collegiate wrestlers. 

There is a resource library filled with books and a few tables if you want to take your research or curiosity to the next level.  

The Hall of Fame on the opposite side of the museum is a beautiful tribute to wrestlers who achieved extraordinary success in national and/or international competition and coaches who went above and beyond in leadership and competition.  

The Museum has a gift shop with clothing and souvenirs that you will go through as you exit.  I didn’t have my family with me for this visit, but I know that my husband and boys would really enjoy this museum.

I can thank the museum for giving me a new perspective and appreciation for the sport of wrestling.