Coach's novel tells true story

July 21, 2011|By AARON SAUNDERS |
  • Malcolm Alter wrote Tylers Mountain Magic, after being inspired by Harpers Ferry student wrestler Tyler Moore, who had cystic fibrosis.
Submitted photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Tyler Moore was more than a young man living with cystic fibrosis.

He was a wrestler, a student at Harpers Ferry Junior High, and in Malcolm Ater’s novel, “Tyler’s Mountain Magic” — he was an inspiration.

Ater of Shepherdstown, W.Va., a former junior high school special education teacher, chronicles the growth of his wrestling team and the trials and tribulation of Tyler.

“When I coached Tyler, I knew I had to tell this kid’s story,” Ater said of his book, which won first place in the 2011 West Virginia Writers Inc. contest for Best Book-Length Novel.

“Tyler’s story shows that you never know what you can accomplish until you try,” Ater.

While battling cystic fibrosis, Tyler became a town hero known for his drive, determination and leadership prowess in captaining his junior high wrestling team to a county record in wins.

 “Tyler and his teammates accomplished something no other Harpers Ferry team would dare dream of. Nothing has made me prouder than being an assistant coach to those wonderful athletes,” said Bill Moore, Tyler’s father.

Although Tyler was an actual person, “Tyler’s Mountain Magic” is classified as fiction because Ater changed the ending of Tyler’s real story, specifically his age when he died. Tyler died from complications of CF on Nov. 4, 2007, at the age of 21.  

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, CF is a chronic lung disease that causes sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. There is no cure, and according to CFF, “in 2009 the median predicted age of survival was in the mid-30s.”

That’s why Ater will donate $5 from each paperback book to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

But even with the change in Tyler’s end, Ater stays true to who the real Tyler was — a winless wrestler in a youth league and who struggled with CF and with wrestling. During a match, Tyler was struggling to catch his breath.

“One match he came to sideline and he had trouble breathing and Bill just smacked him on his back and he started breathing normal again. Tyler went back in there and pinned his opponent,” he said recounting the real life event.

According to Ater, no matter how bad things got or how much he was hurting, Tyler never wanted to be taken out of the match.

“Tyler was truly an amazing person that wanted to be treated like everyone else,” Ater said.

Ater described how the team fed off of Tyler’s energy and even though he wasn’t the best wrestler, he was the guy who the guys looked to for guidance. Even when the team faced the tough decision of whether to wrestle their rival who they believed disrespected Ater and his coaching staff, Tyler was the catalyst for a team resignation.  
“Tyler was willing to give up his goal of 40 wins in a season to show how important we were to him. That just shows you the type of person he was,” Ater said.

According to Ater, there was no question that the team would follow Tyler because he was their friend and an unquestioned leader — and if he could relinquish the goal he fought so vehemently for, so could they.

Tyler came in sixth place in the national open wrestling championships at 85 pounds in the seventh- and eighth-grade category in 1999.  

“I can never repay Malcolm (Ater) for his work on my son’s behalf and to cystic fibrosis,” Moore said.

About the book
Author: Malcolm Ater
Title: “Tyler’s Mountain Magic”
Description: Fictional story based on real-life characters; paperback
Pages: 224
Price: paperback $14.95/Kindle edition $3.99
Available from:"> or
Read an excerpt: Go to

The Herald-Mail Articles