I believe wrestling is extremely important to the development of all adolescents/young adults - both boys and girls. There are numerous health benefits that come from the training, there is certainly a benefit from the perspective of “self defense”, there is a benefit that all sports share by providing an arena for healthy competition, but most important to me is the role wrestling plays in one’s self exploration.
I watch little kids wrestle and have so much fun, and then around 7th grade, they recognize that this is really hard work… and many quit. I am entering my 25th year coaching wrestling, and can honestly say that I have watched many more kids come and go than come and stay. The kids who leave once wrestling transitions from fun to hard work are the kids who are not willing to put in effort. These are kids who likely had success right away because of their athleticism or natural aggression, and then when the “community” of wrestlers around them caught up, they folded because they didn’t want to put in the work to stay on top. I have seen this exact scenario played out over and over again. It is a typical pattern.
It takes a certain mentality to continue to take the punishment of practice, take lumps at competitions, and yet continue to show up. To me, the best part of this sport is what one learns about themselves when they must pick themselves up and continue… most don't... only a few do. This sport is fantastic practice for life. You WILL have jobs, bosses, relationships, experiences that start fun and then turn into hard work. You will have to pick yourself up many, many, many times as an adult… it is inevitable.
My desire for our wrestling community is to train on how to be “comfortable in the uncomfortable” situations life will hand you - they are coming - that is for certain for all. Wrestling is the one place where I have found consistent opportunities to face uncomfortable situations ALONE and rise up to the challenge. To find out who you are when the cards are stacked against you… remember, they will be stacked against your many times in life - for certain. Those who practice working through difficulty will improve while those who turn away will have to answer for that cowardice at some point. It always catches up.
Reflect on this quote: “Everything you want in life is on the other side of Fear.”
“I want to be in play, but I’m afraid of public speaking.”
“I want to do front flip, but I’m afraid of getting hurt.”
“I want to participate in _______, but I’m afraid of missing out on ______."
“I want to ask that person out on a date, but I’m afraid of rejection.”
There is nothing worse in life than regrets. Sometimes regrets come from decisions we make in a moment without thinking things through. Sometimes they come from a pattern of bad decisions. Many times we regret loosing focus, not taking a chance, not seeing something to the end, and the reality is that once the opportunity has passed… it is gone. Many times, it is gone forever.
I use the sport of wrestling as a tool to train athletes on how to focus through difficult situation.
How do I focus when it is hard? When your body wants to quit, when your mind begins to doubt, when your giving in to the voices clouding your focus with negative “anchors” like:
“This is too hard…”
In these moments, we have to learn to trust the plan/process. We have to rely on our training. We have to believe in ourselves. We have to remain positive and focus until the final whistle. Then, win or lose on the scoreboard - there can be no regret because everything was given.
Nothing was held back to linger and repeat in our minds the root of regret:
“If I only…”
My request of the Lincoln High School community, is that those who are interested in the sport, give it a real shot for a full season. It takes time to get the “rhythm” of this game… overall gratification is most definitely delayed. The benefit of making it through a season is the shape your body and mind are in at the end. Scores, championships, trophies come and go, get lost and broken, and mean very little other than to show others what you have done.
Experience and memories shape our lives, and wrestling continuously provide countless opportunities to “learn about oneself.”
Do I want everyone to wrestle? Absolutely.
Do your families/friends want you to wrestle? Maybe.
The biggest questions is WHAT DO YOU WANT?
I do not want anyone to wrestle for others. I don't want anyone to wrestle to prove anything to anyone but themselves - that is the core of the sport. That is what this is all about - not state championships, or medals, but self exploration, understanding and growth.
I’m pumped for this season - I look forward to building a relationship with each of the wrestlers who step up to answer the question:
Do I have what it takes to stand alone?