Tag Archives: Wrestling

The end of wrestling (original draft March 2011)

Wrestling ended officially last weekend with the annual Wrestling banquet and honors ceremony for the team. For us it was the final banquet, and very bittersweet.

Wrestling is over for Andrew. He has no plans on wresting in college and, as far as I know, there are no wrestling “pick up” matches in which former wrestlers can participate if they get the urge to wrestle — unlike many other sports such as basketball, baseball and football.

I don’t have a lot of regrets, but one I do have is not being interested in Andrew’s sporting life earlier. I rarely went to any of his soccer or rugby matches or basketball games when he was young, and while I probably went to more wrestling events because they were inside, didn’t go to most of them up through middle school. I understood none of the rules of any of the sports he liked and was not interested enough to try to learn. I’ll never get those days back for a re-do.

Once he got into high school and was chosen the varsity wrestling team as a freshman, I began to take an interest. I volunteered to redesign and manage the team website and attended most of the meets and tournaments throughout his high school career. I learned the rules, screamed directions to the wrestlers with the best of them, and cursed out the referees poor calls like a pro. I developed an appreciation for all of the sensory assaults experiences one encounters at a wrestling tournament: the shrill whistles, loud buzzers and screaming fans; the scent of hundreds of sweating adolescent bodies mingled with the odor of bleach used to sanitize the mats; the backache from sitting for hours on hard, backless bleachers; the sight of constant movement on the gym floor under unforgiving gymnasium lighting; the taste of whatever was sold in the concession stands.

I am so proud of my son and what he accomplished these four years as a wrestler. I believe that much of what he’s become as a young man (a delightful, smart, charming, kind, thoughtful, strong young man) is due to his experience on the wrestling team. I wrote about his coach a few years ago — but it was even more than that. It was his team. His teammates. His opponents. It was the whole experience that helped shape him.

The facts that he took first place in the county and region and fourth place at States are admirable as is his inclusion on the local newspaper’s  “first” team, but even without these honors, I would have been proud of him. They’re just added value — icing on the cake.

Here’s to the end of wrestling — the end of an era for us. We’ve got a lot of memories and a whole lot of photos.

Here’s my favorite. He’s hugging his coach after his very last wrestling match of his high school career. He lost, but took 4th.

DSC_0474

The end of an era

Andrew and his coach Wrestling ended officially last weekend with the annual Wrestling banquet and honors ceremony for the team. For us it was the final banquet, and very bittersweet.

Wrestling is over for Andrew. He has no plans on wresting in college and, as far as I know, there are no wrestling “pick up” matches in which former wrestlers can participate if they get the urge to wrestle — unlike many other sports such as basketball, baseball and football.

Andrew as a young wrestler I don’t have a lot of regrets, but one I do have is not being interested in Andrew’s sporting life earlier. I rarely went to any of his soccer or rugby matches or basketball games when he was young, and while I probably went to more wrestling events because they were inside, didn’t go to most of them up through middle school. I understood none of the rules of any of the sports he liked and was not interested enough to try to learn. I’ll never get those days back for a re-do.

Andrew warming up before a match Once he got into high school and was chosen for the varsity wrestling team as a freshman, I began to take an interest. I volunteered to redesign and manage the team website and attended most of the meets and tournaments throughout his high school career.

I learned the rules, screamed directions to the wrestlers with the best of them, and cursed out the referees’ poor calls like a pro. I developed an appreciation for all of the sensory assaults experiences one encounters at a wrestling tournament: the shrill whistles, loud buzzers and screaming fans; the scent of hundreds of sweating adolescent bodies mingled with the odor of chemicals used to sanitize the mats; the backache from sitting for hours on hard, backless bleachers; the sight of constant movement on the gym floor under unforgiving gymnasium lighting; the taste of whatever unhealthy foods were sold in the concession stands.

Andrew hugging his coach after his very last wrestling matchI am so proud of my son and what he accomplished these four years as a wrestler. I believe that much of what he’s become as a young man (a delightful, smart, charming, kind, thoughtful, strong young man) is due to his experience on the wrestling team. I wrote about his coach a few years ago — but it was even more than that. It was his team. His teammates. His opponents. It was the whole experience that helped shape him.

That he took first place in the county and region and fourth place at States are admirable as is his inclusion on the local newspaper’s “first” team, his whopping 115 career wins and being chosen for the coach’s award, but even without these honors, I would have been proud of him. They’re just added value — icing on the cake.

Here’s to the end of wrestling — the end of an era for us. We’ve got a lot of memories and a whole lot of photos. Here’s my favorite, to the left even though it sometimes makes me sad to view. He’s hugging his coach after his very last wrestling match of his high school career.

The real winner is not the champ

Last night during the finals of the 2010 Maryland State Wrestling tournament, I saw one of the most selfless and touching moments I’d ever seen while watching any sport.

When the 140 lb wrestlers began their match one of the other wrestling moms mentioned that one of the wrestlers was known to often hurt his opponents (and someone else referred to him in even less glowing terms), let’s call him Vince. Vince has a tattoo on his right thigh of the United States divided in half — one side red and the other blue. Not quite sure what that means. His opponent, let’s call him Caesar, also has a tattoo, but I think it is just his name on his back with a design below it.

I was actually more interested in watching my son get his 4th place award than watching the match going on in front of me. I used my binoculars to watch my son sitting on the podium and talking to various people who walked by while he waited for the 140 lb match to be over so he could get his award. Sometimes I would look at the wrestlers through the binoculars — mostly to see what their tattoos looked like and to check to see if their nails were clean (I have a really good pair of binoculars).

Riot Squad
Riot Squad

I’d gotten bored with the binoculars and was watching the match, the score of which was something like 8 – 3 in favor of Vince with 13 seconds to go,  when Vince somehow had Caesar in the air and either dropped him or threw him on the mat. The official called it dangerous (I knew that he said “dangerous” because he put both his hands behind his head). Then many things happened in swift succession. Caesar didn’t get off the mat. His coaches and the officials crowded around him. Vince ran around the ring, tore off his head gear, almost threw it on the ground before thinking better of it and then sat on the mat, holding his head and rocking back and forth. The crowd around us (we were sitting in the section housing Vince’s fans) began shouting at the officials and booing. A large group of people rushed down the stairs. Men in black (riot control?) rushed down the steps and shouted to the people in the aisles to sit down immediately, then escorted a man (who turned out to be Vince’s Caesar’s father) out of the stadium.

After quite a while in wrestling time, Caesar stood up, with the help of his coaches and slowly limped to the center of the mat where Vince joined him. Vince hugged Caesar tightly, let him go, hugged him again, wiped tears from his own eyes, then either Vince held up Caesar’s hand or Caesar held up Vince’s hand. The crowd cheered and stood up, applauding.

I asked a more seasoned wrestling mom what had just happened. She told me that if a wrestler does something dangerous and his opponent cannot continue wrestling the wrestler who did the dangerous move loses the match. Caesar could have won the match by not getting up and continuing to wrestle. He chose, instead, to stand up and allow Vince to win.

This really says something for the character of Caesar and I hope that by his example, Vince will learn about true sportsmanship and this experience will make him a better athlete.

News articles & other links about the event here:

Gators snap up a 3A-4A Crown

Four score wrestling state titles

Thread on Message Board

A video of the match (fast forward to the end if you want — it is really heartwarming)