My 11th year of being a wrestling coach has come to an end this weekend at the Washington State regional tournament. The season began back in November and starting in December it required the team to have two to three practices a week and two to three late nights during the week because of dual matches. Then they had a tournament on saturday that started the day at around 6 am and ended at 6 pm. It is a lot to ask of a high school student and their family. To ask them to dedicate themselves to something that is going to test them to their limits, their family, their studies, and their time. I am not an easy coach and I demand a lot out of my wrestlers. They will go through Hell and back by the end of the season. To see the sacrifices from 14-18 year old boys is truly amazing and frustrating at the same time. The season is filled with highs and lows…its like riding a roller coaster for four months and dealing with 40 different personalities. Don’t forget about dealing with parents and their commitment to their child.
Yesterday ended my team’s season as four of my boys did not do so well at the regional tournament. I love this part of the season because it is where the boys get to see all their hard work pay off, but I also hate this part of the season because it is also where dreams go to die. My boys had dreams and goals of making it to one of the greatest events in the state of Washington and possibly the U.S. The Washington Wrestling state championships. Nowhere in the U.S. does any high school state athletic association host a state wrestling tournament under one roof with 24 wrestling mats and four boy’s classifications and an all state girls championship in the Tacoma Dome. If you have never seen it…I really suggest you go even if you have no clue about the sport of wrestling. It’s truly amazing.
My boy’s all lost their matches yesterday. By the end of the day, we did not win a single match. I watched 4 of my wrestler’s wrestling careers come to an end. They are my seniors. They have been in my program for four years and all had goals of making it to state. At the end of their last match you could see that they were in pain and tears began to run down their face because they have fallen short of a goal they pursued for 4 years. Trust me when I say this…they spent a lot of time preparing for this moment by paying the price in blood, sweat, and pain.
One particular wrestlers stands out for me, Bryan. On my team I give out an “Ironman” award. It goes to any wrestler who does not miss a single practice, competes in every match or tournament for the season. This is a very hard thing to do considering your body takes a beating daily in practice and even more on days of competition. One of my wrestlers finished the season yesterday earning the Ironman award. The crazy thing is he did it for the 4th year in a row. This young man did not miss a single day of a wrestling season for four years. He is the first wrestler in my 11 years of coaching to ever do that. To me…that is absolutely amazing!!! When he lost his last match I had to watch him slowly walk down a hallway with his head down and sweat just pouring off his body because he just battled for six minutes and left all he had on the mat. I caught up to him and by then he was sitting down on the ground. When he looked up he had tears in his eyes. I hate this part of coaching. It really hurts my heart to see a young man cry because his dream fell short.
It is really hard to find the right words to tell a kid that things will be ok. In reality, they will be ok. I am currently trying to get workouts in for my Ironman training while trying to be a teacher, wrestling coach, parent, and a husband. My workout results are good some days and bad on others. The bad days are making me worried because I do not want to fail at my attempt at the Ironman distance. I told Bryan that at the end of the day, we may not achieve what we set out to do. This does not make us failures. This makes us better people. Those lows on our roller coaster ride called life, are the moments we should look forward too. If your mind is right, it will be those moments that drive us to be better. They are moments when we learn the most. For me, it’s those moments that make me even more hungry/driven to do better the next time.
Yesterday I realized that my boys teach me a lot. They are amazing human beings that are learning life skills through sport. They hit bumps in the road and continue to pressure forward in their lives. They grow up to be men who live successful lives and years latter return to tell me how much the sport of wrestling has helped them in their lives. They seem to forget the tears and the pain, but they remember that value of hard work!
I truly love the sport of wrestling. Wrestling has been a part of my life since I was 12 years old. In comes running and triathlon. They are both new sports to me and wrestling is helping me deal with the ups and downs. Wrestling has prepared me for the high and lows that will come with the sport of running and triathlon. I look forward to my training for Ironman Canada that truly begins in April. I still have the middle school wrestling season that takes me through the end of March. When that time comes, I will attack my training with full force like my wrestlers do for me.
I just wanted to take a moment to tell my wrestlers that I am very proud of them! That I am honored to have coached them! That they are amazing! To my seniors…you are ready for anything life throws at you!!!
To Bryan…You Are An Ironman!!!! (four years in a row)
I am looking forward to next year’s wrestling season. To my wrestlers who remain…the next season begins now! Time to prepare for next year, now!
Future 2012 Ironman Canada finisher!!!!