I learned from a young age that my Marine father was a fighter. I didn’t come to appreciate this trait until I became a mother of young, aggressive boys. I learned that I must let my boys struggle for their place in life, and I learned a new respect for “fighting the good fight.” I witnessed the importance of this during wrestling practice in elementary school. I’ll admit, it started because I needed a break. The boys were destroying my house. And guess what; the mat was filled with young boys who wanted to have some rough fun, and they could have this fun without getting into trouble. I called it, the He-Man Play Group.
I learned that wrestling was not just a sport, but a life challenge. These boys sometimes end up on their back, fighting for the last few seconds of a period, so they can earn another round to prove themselves. Sometimes they lose; sometimes they win. It’s life. Even the acclaimed best often fall at one point in the season. It’s humbling, and it teaches the young men to reevaluate and make a new plan. Just like life, sometimes they have “their ass handed to them.” They watch this happen to every member of the team. They learn what defines them in life is not whether they win or lose a particular round, but what they choose to do next.
I appreciate the men who share life lessons through wrestling. While Chad has been playing with the boys on the “wrestling rug” since they could walk, many other individuals have given their time to share vital lessons through this sport. I will always remember that eventful lunch when one member of the Beck Family in Hillsdale practiced with my kids on the floor of the Pub-N-Grub in preparation for their next season. He didn’t care which team they represented. He just saw a fellow wrestler and wanted to help. I also appreciate the Hastings coaches who continually sacrifice for our wrestlers: Coach Slaughter, who brings a tough Marine influence to the practices, Coach Goggins, who brings a combination of comedy and team building, and Coach Redmen who, as my kids explained, fine tunes the team and pulls them all together.
As a child, I was scared of conflict. My dad tried to teach me that conflict was a part of life. He actually looked forward to “the fight.” He used to tell me, “Get used to it. You have to fight for something.” While Dad was not a wrestler, I see those same lessons he taught me through my boys’ wrestling program. I now admire Dad’s love of a new challenge, a new fight. That’s what I will try to pass on to my boys. If your child doesn’t have a winter activity already, look into your local wrestling program. Wrestling builds character, strength, and life skills.