McLaughlin goes from wrestling mat to operating room

By Kayci Woodley
Mark McLaughlin views life as a performance-based activity and still starts his day in a locker room. Instead of reaching for a wrestler’s singlet, he pulls on a white coat, latex gloves, a surgical cap and mask, and enters a different kind of hallowed ground – the operating room as a renowned neurosurgeon.

McLaughlin will receive the Outstanding American award from the New Jersey State Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in September.

“My sport taught me adaptability,” said McLaughlin, a former wrestler for the College of William and Mary. “When life throws you something, view it as an opportunity rather than a setback.”

ATG_Flat_WhiteBG 300[1]As a neurosurgeon, knowing how to quickly adapt to the unexpected isn’t about winning in competition; it’s about saving a life.

Wrestling in the 142-pound weight class at William and Mary, McLaughlin set school records for most and fastest pins in a single season. He capped off his athletic career as the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association champion in 1988.

McLaughlin majored in philosophy and enjoyed having intellectual conversations with his peers, his professors and his coach at the time, Billy Pincus, who stressed the importance of academics.

“I enjoyed being an active classroom participant and not seen as a dumb jock in the back of the room,” McLaughlin said. “It was a great feeling knowing I had a match coming up, yet I was going to class an hour before the weigh-ins.”

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