Folsom seniors wrestle with retirement

By: Margaret Snider Telegraph correspondent
-A +A
Though Monty Muller, 64, has been retired for a few years from his career as a teacher, vice-principal and principal, he is solidly involved in many activities, including sports, particularly wrestling. The Folsom resident works with Jorgensen’s Sports, which supplies the sports officials for the northern part of the California Sac/Joaquin Section, which includes about 100 high schools. Muller is in charge of officials for boys and girls soccer, boys and girls volleyball, and wrestling. Former physical education teacher and football, basketball and wrestling coach Larry Fletcher, 70 and also of Folsom, works with Muller as assigner of wrestling officials. Muller works with the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the organization that governs high school athletics in California. He is coordinator of officials for the State High School Wrestling Championships every year. His duties include selection and evaluation of officials as well as ensuring their needs such as housing and food are met, and assigning mats, partners, and teams of officials. Muller said that California’s system for choosing officials for the State Meet is the most valid, fairest and most comprehensive of all the states. Each year there are ten returning officials, ten new officials chosen from the mostly highly rated, and two to three alternates. The separate Evaluation Committee evaluates officials, using specific guidelines; Muller has been the top official a number of times. “They watch the wrestlers, they watch the wrestling, they watch the officials, and then they rank the officials,” said Muller. “Then they put all those rankings together with a computer program and it spits out their order, 1st through 20th.” This ensures the highest quality of officials for the competing wrestlers. Muller has been inducted into the California Wrestling Hall of Fame and is a member of their Board of Directors and on their selection committee for new inductees. He is also President of the Northern California College Wrestling Officials Association. Muller maintains his physical fitness by running and walking every day, 4 to 8 miles. He runs on the bridle trail and along the bike trail at Lake Natoma. “It’s good for your body, it’s good for your mind” he said. “When it’s raining, wind’s blowing, whatever, I still love to go out and exercise in that kind of weather, sloshing in the mud.” Other physical activities he has done throughout his life are scuba and abalone diving, swimming, and racquetball. Because of a heart problem dating from a few years back, he has had to give up diving, but he still swims and plans on getting back into racquetball. He and his wife, Karen, also travel in Europe and in the United States, especially Hawaii. Muller also bikes the 12-mile path around Lake Natoma with Fletcher and other friends. “It takes us a little over an hour, said Fletcher. “It’s social. We ride fast enough that we can talk, just get outside, see the beautiful sites, get a little bit of exercise.” Fletcher works out at the gym at least three times a week. “It’s been a fun 40 years,” said Fletcher of his history officiating for wrestling meets. “I enjoy it. This last weekend, I went to the State Meet. I ran into guys that I see once or twice a year and we re-establish friendships.” Muller said he keeps himself going day by day by making lists. But it is more than lists. “He is a very positive person,” said Muller’s wife, Karen. “No matter what, he looks for the good and he always sees something to be accomplished in the world and lots to do ... I think his sense of humor is also something that keeps him going. He loves to laugh.” Muller’s sense of humor is notorious. “My mind, if you listen to my wife,” said Muller, “is kind of like an 8th grader’s.” Fletcher says Muller has two kinds of humor: His dry wit and the 8th grade humor. “You become the environment you work in,” Fletcher said. “He taught in middle school and was administrator in a middle school for 20 years plus. He’s got all these junior high jokes.” Fletcher said that Muller is very physically inclined. “He’s been hiking, snowshoeing this winter. He likes to bike and be in the outdoors. His brain never stops moving. I’m pretty hyper,” said Fletcher. “But not as hyper as Monty. He’s A-plus, I’m just type A.” What advice do Muller and Fletcher have for other seniors? Muller says that just as for real estate it’s location, location, location — retired life is attitude, attitude, attitude. “I don’t look at myself as a senior citizen,” he said. Fletcher agrees. “My one statement is — You don’t want to slow down, because it gives them a clear shot at you," Fletcher said.