Valley man goes for his dream after reading letter to self

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9 p.m. Extra: Wrestler's Letter

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Sam Chagolla says, "I was beating guys when I was in the 4th grade. I was beating the 7th and 8yh-graders.

He was a force to be reckoned with on the wrestling mat even as a young boy. His coach, Mike Koury, says, "We have worked together pretty much year-round from his 5th grade year on. Koury, who was also Sammy's high school coach, pushed him to excel both on the mat and in the classroom.

Sammy admits, "I was very fortunate I won four state championships at Peoria High School and had seven or eight state records, but the bottom line was he kept me focused and told me it's not about the wrestling, it's about getting an education."

The result was that Sammy got a full academic scholarship to Northern Arizona University where he also dominated in wrestling. He was even on the Wheaties breakfast of champions box and then made a run for the Olympic trials at the age of 23 back in 1988.

Says explains, "I went to the Olympic trials in April of that year, but I did not wrestle the right weight class at the time. I was tired of cutting weight and all those college and high school wrestlers know what I'm talking about. It's very difficult and I made the decision that I'm going to go in what I weigh and see what comes out and low and behold I fell a little short of the goal."< /p>

Sammy stepped off of the mat as far as competing but he did not give up his love for the sport. He went on to become a teacher and wrestling coach alongside mike at Peoria High School during the 1990s.

Now he is an assistant principal at Ira A Murphy Elementary School and Sammy was about to embark on a new journey. " My wife says you better sit down because I found something and so I sit down and she opens the letter and she starts to read it because it says do not open until after the age of 40."

It was one of five letters that Sammy had written to himself after losing at the Olympic trials more than 20 years ago. The letter says, "Whoever I get married to will have to understand that wrestling is a big part of my life. I'm sure I'll meet someone who has never seen me wrestle, but I hope she hears about who I really was in my past. If I'm healthy at the age of 45, I will train to wrestle in a big national wrestling tournament. I don't know if this will happen, but I'm a dreamer." At 44 Sammy decided to make that dream a reality.

Carrie Chagolla, Sammy's wife, tells 3TV, "I could tell a lot of the hurt feelings he had back then and just wanted to pursue it and something he never got to do or finish."

He trained for 10 months, even practicing on some of the Valley's best high school wrestlers today. He competed in April at the Veteran's National Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas. He explains, "I came in second in the nation for Greco roman and freestyle."

Not only did Sammy compete and place, but he will now be representing the Unites States this August at the Veterans World Freestyle Championships in Turkey.

Ruben Chagolla admits, "I'm so proud of my little brother that he has the discipline and strength to do what he's doing. Most people wouldn't sacrifice life or time to what he's going to do." Sammy's wife adds, "I think his message is to always dream as big as you want and to never give up and it's never too late."

Koury says, "The key to Sam's success is commitment. Whatever he puts his mind to, he makes a commitment and he's going to do what's necessary to get there."

Sammy admits, "Life is so short and take every single opportunity you have to make sure you take advantage of the things that people are able to give you, advice, money, help, use the people in a positive way that are a part of your life to do bigger and better things."

If you want to help Sammy on his journy go to his website: .