Got Wrestling, Part II

For years I have heard men of all ages speak with pride about the State Individual Wrestling Tournament. I never understood the big deal until I actually attended the event. This past weekend, the top wrestlers from all four divisions in the State of Michigan met at the Palace of Auburn Hills and held a three day competition.

wrestling grand march

The Grand March

The event began with The Grand March, as all the athletes took to the mats for the opening ceremony. Day one guaranteed each athlete a single match. The tournament was double elimination, so all athletes, win or lose, had two days of competition.

State qualifiers, Patrick Murphy and Jeremiah Schaefer

State qualifiers, Patrick Murphy and Jeremiah Schaefer

As a spectator, I saw emotions run high for all here, parents, coaches, players… Top athletes occasionally faced unexpected loss and long shots fought their way up the brackets. As a mother, I was not prepared to watch my son end his high school wrestling career. I will never forget that final match and aftermath, the tears, hugs, and handshakes with team mates, coaches, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and parents, bonding in the hallway outside the stadium.

Jason Slaughter earned 5th Place

Jason Slaughter earned 5th Place

As mentioned in an earlier post, I will be forever grateful for the gifts of wrestling. Wrestling gave my sons a healthy opportunity in their youth to expel energy. Later, as young adults they found focus in stressful situations while observing their opponent and making immediate decisions on the mat. Wrestling helped mold them into men.

If you ever have an athlete, friend’s athlete, family member, or any excuse to attend, treat yourself to an adventure and witness the State Individual Wrestling Finals.

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Got Wrestling?

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.