Young Actor also a Wrestler
...and a Pappy Thompson Award Nominee
By SPENCER CAMPBELL | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER | May 05, 2009*** Published: May 4, 2009 in the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier. ***
BLUFF CITY, Tenn. – When Kole Bishop was in middle school, he approached Sullivan East athletic director John Dyer at a football game and asked: "Do you know who I am?"
Dyer didn't and said so.
"Well, you will," Bishop replied. "I'm going to be a state champion wrestler."
It took four years, but the Sullivan East senior finally turned his prediction into reality. Bishop became the Patriots' first state champion in wrestling in February, when he defeated Brennan Cox in a 10-1 rout to claim the 145-pound title.
"After he won the state title, he ran and I caught him in the air," East wrestling coach Tim Harris said. "He set a goal, and he never quit. No matter how bad he was hurt, he never gave up."
But Bishop's state title isn't the reason he is a finalist for the Bristol Herald Courier's 2009 Pappy Thompson award. Rather, it is the confidence and determination his coaches remember that helped Bishop earn a place among this year's nominees.
A PASSION FOR ACTING
But athletics isn't the only area in which Bishop put those two characteristics to work.
In fact, to see Bishop dressed as Wilbur the pig in Sullivan East's production of "Charlotte 's Web" is to understand the senior's real passion.
In this capacity, drama, Bishop brought the Patriots another state title – in pantomime.
"He has the desire," East drama teacher SaBrina Arnold said. "That's something I can't give to them.
"And he's so versatile. He was playing a pig and a Nazi officer [in "Auschwitz Lullaby"] simultaneously. I don't even know how he did that."
Still, there are another traits Bishop possesses that carry him beyond prizes and awards.
Somewhere between moving vans ferrying him back-and-forth between Florida and Tennessee as a child, and never knowing a father who lives only a few miles away, Bishop grew up.
Somewhere in that journey, Bishop gathered the kind of sincerity it takes to call his drama teacher – twice, during spring break – after her best friend died of cancer, just to ask how she's doing.
Somewhere along the way, he grew disciplined enough to graduate from East with a 3.68 GPA.
Somewhere in those miles, Bishop earned the sense of charity it requires to volunteer for the DREAM program, visiting elementary schools to speak about the ills of drug and alcohol abuse, and to chase an Eagle Scout badge by spending his days cleaning grime from the walls at Weaver Elementary School.
Bishop's immediate future is far from certain at this point. There's a spot on King College's wrestling team waiting for him, but he just might go elsewhere to concentrate on theater.
Wherever Bishop goes, he leaves behind a lot of teachers, students and friends who are happy just to have known him for a time.
"I call him my paycheck kid," Arnold said. "He's my payment. He's why you get out of bed in the morning."