The Last Match

June 1, 2014 at 11:21 pm (Amateur Wrestling, high school, High School Sports, High School Wrestling, Parenting, Single Mom, Single Parent, sports, Teenagers, Wrestling) (, , , , , , )

It has taken me over three months to get the courage to write this post. The post I’ve been dreading since the moment I started my little wrestling mom blog. This is the post where I tell you about his last match, and the end of his wrestling career.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, my boys have played many sports and been involved in a myriad of things over the years. From gymnastics at age 3 because he needed an outlet for the inhuman amount of energy he possessed (and he was too young for soccer), to the other one wanting to try the violin and later the guitar, to one earning a scholarship to a fine arts camp for his artistic talent, to marching band and more. They’ve played soccer, baseball, football, lacrosse……and wrestled.

I truly think that only people who are close to people who have wrestled can know what this sport is really about. It’s hard for people who have no experience in it to wrap their head around the strong emotions it brings out. Most don’t even try. But those of you who get it, know. You just know, and it is you to whom I speak.

My youngest son, the sophomore, had a decent year; he improved on last year’s record in that he stayed eligible the entire season. That was cause for celebration in itself! He won some, he lost some, he wrestled JV. It was good. My oldest, my senior, also improved his record. I was just happy he was there; compared to last year, this season was going great even if he did not make it to state. He was alive, and wrestling, I think, is what made that possible. Last year was the most terrifying of all my years as a parent. I watched my son hanging on by the tips of his fingers to school, to wrestling, to life. I felt like this year was just borrowed time after that, and not much else mattered – win, lose, I didn’t even care. I was just blissfully happy that I was able to watch him do it.

Then along came Districts. Round One of eliminations on the road to States. Michigan is a pretty competitive state for wrestling, at least in my limited experience it seems so. We are no Iowa or even Pennsylvania, but you have to work your ass off to even make it to States. The kids that make it didn’t pick it up in high school, not unless you are a mutant freak with mutant freak talent who is a reincarnated gladiator from 400 B.C. The kids that make it are very good and have a LOT of mat time. The kids that win are the kids that took it up as 4 year olds and forgo all other activities in favor of wrestling until they are seniors. Ok I might be exaggerating, and I’m sure plenty of deserving “latecomers” get their chance at the state tournament, but I think the overwhelming majority have done it all their young lives. But I digress.

So, along came Districts. I had been so busy with my new job that the season just flew by and it seemed like just another Saturday at first. But about 15 minutes after I took my seat in the stands, I was overwhelmed at the gravity of it. My son had never made it past this round so far, and this was his last chance. But he was better. He was older and more experienced, and most of all he had his head on straight this year. I threw up a desperate plea to the Universe that he would please, just this day, make it through. Just….Please. Please show this kid that there is a reward for doing the right thing. Please show this kid that the thing that kept him going during his darkest hours was worth hanging on to. Please.

And then I let it go. It was all in the hands of the Fates now.

He won his first match with a quick pin in the first. I was over-the-moon thrilled! That meant he had to lose TWO MORE TIMES in order to get knocked out….yay for long days at tournaments!! He too, was thrilled.

On to the second match and a much tougher opponent. This second guy was from a school that just dominated all day long. He had taken third at state last year. So while my son was upset about this loss, he was still in it for Regionals, and had nothing to be ashamed of. The kid was a tank.

Third match, and at this point he’s at sudden death as far as what will happen next week. He had to win this one to stay in. He did. I couldn’t really feel physical feelings at this point. You know those colorful, wobbly rubber bouncy balls you get out of vending machines? That’s what I felt like. Except more fragile and neurotic. I wasn’t sure which way I’d bounce next at any given moment.

Honestly, I’d have to ask him if he had another match after the third one. I think he did, but being a wobbly rubber ball, frenetically neurotic, some of this day has escaped my memory. If he had one, he won it. That’s all we need to know.

His last match was a good matchup. It was the kind you like to watch from high atop the bleachers when it’s not your kid out there. Double overtime. Kids very closely matched in skill and strength. My kid happened to get stuck trying to use a move so as not to be called for stalling. The other lady’s kid saw it coming. This would not have been a loss to hang his head about, not even close. However…..

As I looked at my buddies the stats girls, tears welling up in my eyes, I tried to tamp it down. “Don’t look at them, don’t look at your youngest, and by any means neccessary, do not look at the young man out there who just wrestled his Last. Match.” I guess I said that to myself, but I can’t say for sure. That’s what happened, anyway. I looked in his direction, waiting to see in what manner he would exit the gym, but we didn’t make eye contact. I knew then and I know now, he couldn’t. I watched him push gracefully and calmly through the door, warm-up clothes in hand, and stood there as the blazing red door slammed in my face, as heavy gym doors do. But the slam carried with it the entire weight of the day.

I went outside into the harsh, cold, very snowy day to get some air. I collected my thoughts and shed a couple of tears. I knew I’d have to go back inside and eventually see my boy, but I knew he needed time.

For what seemed like hours, I couldn’t find either of my boys. My youngest had gotten knocked out of the tournament in the first round, paired up with another state placer from the same team that beat pretty much everyone that day. Usually I can find him at the food table. Eventually after a couple of trips from the food tables to the gym and back, I saw him. We saw each other across the cafeteria and started walking toward each other, and he had a look on his face that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. It was pain and sadness, but it was also pain and sadness for what he knew his brother was going through. And his mother. When we met, we ended up three feet away from our cross-town rivals. He hugged me, and it just all came out.

Thank goodness he is a strong enough young man that he feels it’s ok to cry in front of his biggest “enemies”, because we both did. I was louder and sobbier, but he was sniffly too. Thank goodness he has big shoulders. Thank goodness he loves his family. It was a very touching moment. No words were said, because we both felt and knew the same thing-it’s over for him. Finally, I asked him where his brother was. He was still in the locker room with the other senior on our team who had also just wrestled his final match. I am very glad moms are not allowed in locker rooms.

When I eventually saw my Drew, he was sitting at the food table with a few other wrestlers and the stats girls. It was very gloomy over there. He wasn’t really ready to see me yet, but I couldn’t wait any longer, I had to see he was ok. He stood up and we hugged, and cried. This son is not as comfortable in public, and I knew he didn’t want to cry in front of his friends. There was just no stopping it or helping it. It’s hard to describe the feeling I had. I’ve never had this feeling before as a mother. Of course, I wanted to take it all away from him just like we want to when they’re little, but that of course, is impossible. No words we can find, no actions to divert attention, nothing can make it better. And I know that each time any of the three of us thinks about it in the years to come, even though life has of course gone on, we will remember that feeling.

I hope he never lives with regret that “maybe I could have tried harder, put more effort into it, not totally screwed my life up junior year”….regret is a bitch to live with. I hope he looks back and sees what could potentially be regretful and just realizes that’s the path he chose and he is who he is today because of it. I hope he’s got a Buddhist mentality about it; it is not good and it is not bad, it just is.

I love this young man very much. And I am sorry he didn’t get to fulfill his wildest dreams as an athlete. But I do know that he learned a lot about life participating in this sport, and a lot about himself. I know he made friends and did accomplish things many others could not. I know that he learned that only he controls his destiny with his choices, and that choices have consequences. He learned that the depths he needs to reach to pull out success, do exist in him, and how far reaching those depths are.

I’m so very lucky to have had the chance to ride along for this journey of his. The highs and lows of it; the tough lessons and the triumphs. At times it’s been the glue that held us together. When we had nothing else, we had this. I expect it might be different for a Dad, but I enjoyed it to the fullest.

Thank you, son.

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No good, very bad day

January 29, 2012 at 8:49 am (Amateur Wrestling, High School Sports, High School Wrestling, Middle School Sports, Parenting, Single Mom, Single Parent, sports, Wrestling) (, , , , , , , , )

I hate to say it, but I experienced my first bad day at a wrestling event yesterday.

There was like a bad moon over the place or something.  Seriously, mass hysteria maybe.  Collective Asshole-ish-ness At Team Tournament the headline would read, if anyone wrote a headline.

Round One.  I missed half of the first round because of poor planning on my part and really shitty weather.  I literally walked into the gym as my son was starting his first match, and watched from matside my son get pinned.  I was also really bummed out to find out that I missed one of our boys achieve his 150th career win.

I found my place in the stands.  Not in the protective hive of our own fans, but on the fringe (A result of my late arrival….it brings back memories of walking into church late and having to sit in the front pew with the other people who don’t care enough about church to get there on time).  Luckily I found a couple of other fringers to sit behind.  Unluckily, as it turned out, behind me were the parents from the other team we were wrestling in the next match.  At so it began.

I have sat behind and next to fans from other teams for four years.  It’s usually ok.  The fans, in keeping with the conduct of the sport, are generally congenial and respectful, but not this group.

For round two, I had the pleasure of sitting in front of a gentleman who complained about the officiating during every single match.  Complain, complain, complain.  Bitch, bitch, bitch.  The final straw for me was when my own son was out there getting choked out illegally by one of their kids and he complained about the “hometown ref” that wasn’t awarding the choker a pin (when a pin was not had).  I was starting to fear my own Mama Bear reaction if I were to turn around and tell the gentleman off, so I just moved to avoid a riot in the stands.

Round three was ok, as we were wrestling a team that had a painfully low number of kids and instead of bitch, bitch, bitch, it was void, void, void.  Sad, but short and sweet.  I didn’t even see any parents there.  I never do for that team, so I did the usual and applauded all of their kids just so they would hear some applause when they won.  Poor fellas.

Round three.  Similar to round two, but multiplied by the fact that it was a home tournament for them, and they had quadruple the fans round two had.  How embarrassing for their school that these people act like such rude idiots.  I won’t get into details, but their fans are the perfect example of how NOT to behave.  Later in the day, two of these Moms actually yelled at our coach to get out of the way.  “Can’t you see we’re trying to watch a wrestling match?”  *Facepalm*

Maybe it was me.  Maybe the moron who brought the cowbell to an indoor function and incessantly rang it was getting on my nerves.  Maybe the fact that one of our own kids had an embarrassing fit of temper had me edgy.  I don’t know.  I’ve never seen our coach have to deal with something like that, but he asked him to shower and finish the day as a spectator.  It’s too bad, we really could have used him when round five got even uglier.  I fully support his decision.  I would have made him sit out too.  Except I would have thrown in a Mom Look when I sent him to the showers.  It was too crowded to see if coach did that, and I don’t even know if people with low estrogen can pull it off, but I kind of hope he tried.  I think the icing on the cake though, was that some total waste of brain cells left his dog in the car all day.

Round five. What a great, competitive matchup.  We led by two pins for most of it.  Then they started voiding us in the middle weights.  They were from the other side of the state, a team we’ve never seen before, but they must have had some spies eyeballing us during other matches, because they knew where we were strong and where they were not, and vice versa.  I have to admit, it was a brilliant strategy.  We tied.  How do they break a tie during a team tournament, you ask?  They review the stats and add up reversals, back points, pins, and voids.  Or something like that.  At any rate, one key void on our own part was what set them ahead by eight tenths of a point.  It was a nail biter and a heartbreaker.  We took fourth.

I was just glad it was over.  No amount of “great job today’s” can cheer a kid up sometimes.  You can’t convince some of the new parents that this was truly a victory and something to be proud of.  So, you just pack it up, head home, make dinner for your family, and try to put it behind you.

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The Tao of a Wrestling Mom

December 2, 2011 at 10:43 pm (Amateur Wrestling, High School Sports, High School Wrestling, Middle School Sports, sports, Uncategorized, Wrestling) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’ve had a really crappy week, one for the books.  I cut loose (for the second time) a would-be suitor who I was not very well suited for; had a surprise bill empty my checking account, battled with my youngest son daily to get his homework done (and lost), and work has been sucking the life out of me.  I have been in tears every night on the drive home.  It’s either cry or run someone over with the car, and who wants blood and guts on their undercarriage?  I hate it when I get all frickin’ fragile like this, but it happens from time to time and sometimes you just gotta roll with it.

One day was particularly stressful.  After a life-sucking day at work, I had to:  deliver bottles to the wrestling room to pour the hospital grade antibacterial soap we ordered in them and meet the lunchroom staff to purchase some apple juice before they left for the day which was the SAME time the band ladies left for the day and I had to get in there and get my son’s band dues paid and make sure I didn’t get there too much before the coach arrived so he could let me in the equipment room AND time it all just right so I could pick up my little anti-homework delinquent from detention!

A conference call and then my boss tried to keep me at work past my scheduled time and succeeded.  Knowing the after work schedule I was up against, I thought,  “Here it comes, I’m about to lose it….look out, bitches”. It was an insubordination near miss if I ever had one, but I kept it together.  After purchasing the apple juice and finding some wrestlers to bring it upstairs for me and paying our band dues, I ran into coach in the hallway.  The soap hadn’t arrived yet. “I almost wonder if we should get a big bottle of Dial for them to use until it comes in”, he said, but what he meant was “Will you please go to the store and buy them some Dial so they can use something besides Axe and risk skipping our first tournament next week due to an impetigo outbreak”?  Of course I said “I’ll go get some and bring it back before practice is over”, when I really wanted to say “pass the tissues”.  I decided to throw the juice in the fridge before I left for the store.  Denied.  The thing was full of mold after sitting idle for seven months.  Gross.  So I had another thing to add to the list…..whatever.

I arranged for Grandma to pick up my homework-hating detention dweller, so that took some of the edge off.  One of our injured wrestlers made me add him as a contact on my phone so I could call him if I got locked out of the school.  And when I returned from the store, I was met with a sincere “Aw, cool, soap!  Thank you!”.  Ok yep, I was feeling a bit better now, how could I not be?

As I sat there on the floor, de-skanking the fridge, it dawned on me that my son was practicing just a few feet away.  I love watching that kid wrestle.  I’ve never sat through an entire practice just watching like the Dads are “allowed” to do.  Bonus for me!  Being that I was in the equipment room, I got to visit briefly with about five of our young gentlemen who were looking for nasal tampons.  I got to mother them a little bit by helping them with their bloody noses and making sure they were biohazard-free before they went back out there.  They so readily accepted my help I have to wonder who takes care of them when no Moms are there?

They were so glad to see that they had juice for after practice I had to dash out of the way of the stampeding herd.

You’d have thought that after the day from hell and running around like a chicken with my head cut off, including cleaning mold – yuck – that by the time I got home I’d be even more stressed out.  But I had a slow realization that I was….happy!  I was refreshed!

If someone had told me ten years ago that I would find peace in a wrestling room, I would never have believed them.  But there’s something so basic and honest about the sport and the kids who do it, it’s kind of hard not to find yourself grounded after spending some time in their midst.

In a week where the recurring thoughts in my mind were “Oh my God people need to just get the hell out of my head!”, and “Ok where did I see that chocolate wine being sold?”  I had finally found sanctuary.  In a stinky, crowded wrestling room with the cheer team screaming and giggling over the top of the thuds and grunts of the wrestlers, I had found the elusive zen moment I had been so in need of.

The three jewels of Taoism are:  Compassion, Moderation, and Humility.

Compassion, check.  Moderation, check.  Humility, check.

I’m so damn lucky.

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Why I Do It

September 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm (High School Sports, Middle School Sports, sports, Uncategorized, Wrestling) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

As I sit here exhausted,  making plans to schlep a heavy table and two chairs, a cash box, and varied “spirit” items to a football game in 95 degree heat plus humidity that surely will ruin my hairdo, to raise money for our proposed wrestling room, I ask myself “Why?”  “Why do you put so much time and energy into this, when you have so much else on your plate?”

As a single Mom who works full time, just being a mother, working and trying to keep up with housework are quite sufficient to keep me occupied.

During the first parent meeting of my son’s freshman year, a woman was there that was asking some of us new parents if we would like to help out the boosters, they had some open board positions they wanted to fill.  Treasurer was one of them.

I thought, “How much work can that be, someone asks me for a check, I write it….easy!”

Right?

Wrong!

As treasurer, and subsequently the person holding the checkbook, it was my job to pick up apple juice and apples for the team.   So I’d go after work about once a week, sometimes twice if I calculated incorrectly, and stop by Walmart for the cheapest apple juice I could find, then another store for some fresher-than-Walmart apples.  I had to haul said apples and apple juice up a long sidewalk, and up a flight of stairs to deliver them to the wrestling room.  Sometimes I found a wrestler or two to help me, sometimes I didn’t.  “I need the exercise” I would tell myself as I huffed and puffed and struggled and slogged a cartful of juice, units falling off randomly, through slush and snow and rain.

This was the beginning of the snowball effect which was to become my life as a booster.

I became the team photographer, the website administrator, and one of the tournament organizers.

All this occurred during the very busy high school wrestling season.  My youngest son also had middle school basketball season happening for part of this, and then the middle school wrestling season.  And did I mention I work full time?

I am unable to rely on the other parent in this family dynamic for any of the running around getting my kids where they need to go.  That’s just the way it is.

I am, however, able to rely heavily on my other two boosters.  Our tiny booster board also boasts a President and Secretary, both of whom are as hard working as I.

There were times when I was so tired I walked around zombielike, a total fried-brain feeling, and sometimes I wonder how I managed any of it.

There has been a nice break during the off-season, with tasks and duties kept down to a dull roar.

But tonight, here I am again, with a work project on a tough deadline causing much welcomed overtime, and not forgetting my band parent duties, which are a whole other world, I’m sitting here feeling the familiar fried-brain feeling from lack of sleep, and getting ready to slog through another task, and asking myself “Why?”

Why do I do it?  Especially when some parents don’t seem to care, some parents don’t know the difference between headgear and footwear, and some parents even do their best to run the program into the ground?

I do it because some parents don’t seem to care.  I do it because some parents don’t know the difference between headgear and footwear, and I do it because some parents do their best to run the program into the ground.

Our wrestlers need this.  Not just mine, yours too.  Our wrestlers deserve to have their own space in which to practice and grow.  They deserve to have someone willing to spend a cold winter day driving them to a college 3 hours away on terrible roads so that they can attend a clinic and get some team building time.  They deserve someone willing to spend hours on the computer to post the pictures of them dominating an opponent to show their friends.  Basically, our wrestlers deserve to know that we give a shit about what they do.

Wrestling is a team sport, but it is also highly individualized.  I am quite confident that the most driven of wrestlers would wrestle whether no one was watching or he had a world-wide audience.

But something in my Mama’s heart, some nagging little maternal instinct, tells me these boys appreciate someone championing their cause.

I have since come up with some workable solutions to the apple juice conundrum, and we have gratefully admitted two new board members.  Next season won’t be so taxing, I’m quite sure.

But even if I was all alone in my cause, I’d still work as hard as I could, and be happy to do so.

Why?

Because they call me Mama E.

I don’t think that needs explaining.

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The Season From Hell (How Our Team Learned to Swim)

August 26, 2011 at 10:36 pm (High School Sports, Middle School Sports, sports, Uncategorized, Wrestling) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

My favorite Uncle was a Marine who served in Viet Nam, and who, when he returned from war, went into law enforcement.  He was a gruff man on the outside, but loving and very protective.  He taught his two kids to swim at the tender age of five by walking them out to the end of a pier and just throwing them off.  It still sounds horrifying to me, and I could never wrap my head around the concept when my cousin would talk of how she and her brother learned to swim.  “But”, she says, “we didn’t sink, and he was right there to help us if we struggled”.  “And……we learned how to swim”.  Indeed.

Last year was my oldest son’s freshman year of High School.  His Middle School coaches were a gym teacher and a former football coach (from MY time in the same Middle School, 25 years ago), neither of whom were wrestlers.  They meant well, and taught some basics, but our freshman team came to the High School very unprepared.

Our Class A school, who has more wrestlers on “Trophy Row” than any other sport, had a wrestling team of 15 last year.

We started out with a few more, but three upperclassmen quit the team before the first meet for personal reasons.

One of our heavyweight upperclassmen was ineligible to wrestle all year long, until the very last tournament.  He was over weight.

The night of our first meet, one of our other heavyweights broke his leg during warm ups.

At one of our first tournaments we had a boy break a cervical vertebrae and another suffered a concussion, within minutes of each other.

It seemed our poor gimpy team could endure no more.  I think we lost every one of our team meets, because we were so empty in weight classes, there was no way we could catch up to some of the schools with bigger teams.

I think very highly of our High School coaching staff.  They are top notch, and have extremely impressive credentials.  You couldn’t help but feel bad for them as much as the boys, given the circumstances of this season from hell.

Not only did these coaches have a shrinking team of ill-prepared Freshman, the kids had to share their practice room with the competitive cheer team.

That’s right, I said…… Competitive.  Cheer.

The boys kind of thought this was a good gig at first, until they started actually trying to hear what Coach was teaching them.

Despite the bumps and bruises, and what was stacked against them, (literally, in pyramid form), they had promise. They had raw talent, and they had heart.  And if they didn’t have heart when the season began, they sure had it by the end.

Our Coaches had no choice but to throw these kids off the deep end.  The only other option would have been to drop out of the events we were scheduled for, which was of course, a non-option.  Wrestlers wrestle.  So out they went, every Saturday morning and some Wednesday nights, getting torn to shreds.

I’m not going to pretend like we had this amazing “come from behind to win it all”, season that would make a perfect cheesy Hollywood script.  I’m not even going to pretend it was easy to watch.  In fact, it was downright torturous at times, watching these kids go up against bigger, stronger, older and far more experienced kids match after match after match.

They lost, and lost often.

A couple of times, it was all I could do to not let my son see  tears welling up in my eyes for him.

Our wrestlers were learning how to wrestle just like my cousins learned how to swim.  Coach walked them by the hand to the end of a pier, and threw them off.

And just like my cousins, they didn’t sink.  And just like with my cousins, the one who led them to the edge and threw them off was right there to help them if they struggled.

At the end of the season, these boys held their heads high as they ALL received their first Varsity “letter”.

This year shows much more promise for a winning season.  We’ve got a lot of new freshman coming up, who had some very good coaching last season by new coaches at the Middle School.  And thanks to  a deal made by our Senior state placer, that if he went out for football, the football players would come out to wrestle, I think our numbers will be up as well more to where they should be.

But I don’t think any of this small group of now-Sophomores will forget what they went through last year.

I hope they don’t.

 

 

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Things I’ve Learned-Advice For the Curious

August 19, 2011 at 6:41 am (High School Sports, Middle School Sports, sports, Uncategorized, Wrestling) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

It was suggested to me that more Moms need to learn how to get their kids on the mat.  So if you’re thinking about letting your son (or daughter) wrestle, here’s what I wish someone would have told me when I was new:

Nutrition: 

Your son will learn more about nutrition than any career dieter you know.  He’ll know exactly how many calories or grams of food he can consume and in what time frame.  Let him do it, as long as it doesn’t get unhealthy.  Harping on him will only make him carry this out in secret.  Better to be involved as an objective observer.  It’s another part of wrestling.  While this is not one of my favorite parts, we’re not going to change it.

Tournaments: 

First, know that schedules are useless.  Tournaments rarely start on time, and there is no way to predict when you’ll be leaving.  Don’t expect to know when your child is wrestling, because he’ll go when it’s his turn.  That’s all.  You can sometimes figure it out by what weights are wrestling at the current moment.  But don’t quote me on that.  As a structured person and lover of schedules, this was probably the most difficult thing for me to contend with at first.

More on Tournaments:

Don’t bring a book, you won’t read it.  I still always carry one in my bag for an emergency that might stop the action, but I have not opened it in all the tournaments I’ve attended.  You will be too busy rooting on kids you don’t know nor ever will.  After every tournament I come home and empty my bag and think “Why do I keep packing this?”  Yet in it goes, every Friday night.

Do bring:  Tylenol, Aleve, Tums….it’s good to have a general sampling of everything that’s in your medicine cabinet.  Hey, it’s a long day, you never know what could happen.  There will be someone who needs something you brought.

You can spend your free time at the food table, eating, catching up on gossip, or cleaning up after the kids who’ve eaten.  You’ll do a lot of cleaning.  You can also spend time studying the brackets posted on the wall.  (Haha….I joke.  I can’t figure them out either.  Just ask the nearest male.  They always know how to make sense of these.  I truly feel there is some kind of estrogen filter applied when they create these).

A little daunted by the prospect of a tournament?  The dual meets make up for it.  They are easy, fun, and short.  They start out with a different weight class every time, and while I have no idea how they decide who starts, at least you know when your kid is wrestling.  My kid’s at 103.  If they start with 119, I know he’ll be second to last.  Easy!

It will be difficult to watch:

It’s hard to watch your kid out there being twisted up like a pretzel.  It is also hard to watch him inflicting pain on another kid.  If you don’t have the stomach for it, I don’t know what to tell you.  He’ll be ok, that’s all I can say.**  My Mother, who never misses any of my sons other sporting events, has never been to a wrestling match.  She can’t handle it.  As a mother, you will just have to put on your big girl britches and deal.  We’ve done harder things.

**Wrestling is actually a pretty low-injury sport.  I know some ER nurses and doctors, and they tell me they see very few wrestlers, because they are so well conditioned, and the injuries are not usually ER-worthy.

Off season:

Your son (or daughter) might want to attend camps and clinics.  Let them do as much as you, your child, and your checking account can handle.  Trust me on this one.

What else can I say to someone who might be interested……support your coaches, get to know your fellow wrestling families, and let your kid educate you.  My son has taught me a lot about what he does and why he does it.  It’s awesome bonding time.

Above all, enjoy it.  Toward the end of the season you might be asking yourself what kind of psychotropic meds your doctor can hook you up with to deal with this one more week.  But when it’s over, you’ll miss it.

Here’s a nice page to look through if you’re still on the fence: http://www.yeshivawrestling.com/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=3#dangerous

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Just Breathe

August 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm (Wrestling) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I learned to breathe when I was in my late 20’s.  Really breathe, and make it work for you, not the automatic breathing that keeps you alive. When I had my kids, I discovered through the miracle that is Lamaze, that focusing on your breathing will get you through nearly anything.  I’ve used it ever since to get me through anything from a tough day at work, to relaxing enough to turn my mind off for sleep, to avoiding a tearful breakdown during the Puffs Plus commercial.

My oldest son is smaller than most.  He weighed in at 86lbs dripping wet when he tried wrestling for the first time as a 7th grader.  It had been a couple of years since he’d been involved in a sport, because the size differential got to be too much for football.  Baseball bored him, even though he showed promise there.  So I was relegated to watching his younger brother play baseball and basketball, sighing resignation that my oldest might not play sports anymore.

I encouraged him several times over the years to try youth wrestling, because I knew he was scrappy and had a good temperament for the sport.  He declined.  I let it go.  Then he wanted to check it out as a 7th grader.

I thought I knew what I was in for.  I watched a few wrestling matches in high school, and even kept score for the team as a sub on a couple of occasions.  I felt well versed enough to venture into this new world with him.

I would pick him up from the practices, and watch them doing their drills and super-tough conditioning, and was impressed in an “I don’t want to know too much about this” sort of way.  I was, after all, a single Mom who was trying to let her son go through the rite of passage of the Men’s Locker Room on his own, without too much Mom-volvement.  I knew the coaches would take care of him, and not push him past his limit. They wouldn’t do that, would they?  That crazy neck exercise that I can’t bear to watch is good for him, right?  Just breathe…..Coach has it covered, Mom.

What I would later learn was that his first match would nearly be the death of me.  Not him, me.

He was struggling with his grades, as many 7th graders do, and missed the first couple of dual meets.  He got his grades up, but for the next two, he wasn’t able to wrestle because there was no one in his weight class.  I missed one or two for work, and the short Middle School season was nearly over.  Talking it over with Coach, he mentioned that there was a tournament coming up, and he assured me I’d be able to watch my son wrestle then.   Finally!! And then, a sigh of relief!

I was so excited as I was preparing for this, what I was sure to be the best day of my sports Mom life in recent memory.  I knew how hard my son was working, on his grades and in the wrestling room.  I happily made my dish for the “team table” the night before, charged up the batteries in the video camera, and packed my first ever Wrestling Mom Tournament Bag complete with Advil, a good book, and granola bars.  I was ready!

I found my way to the school on the frozenMichiganroads, and was just this side of literally chirping with excitement.

I walked into the huge gym, full to the brim with screaming people and wall to wall wrestling mats.  What?  How was I ever going to find my son?  When does he wrestle?  (No one seemed to know).  Where do I find out what time he’s going?  (No one knew). Howcome no one can tell me when he’s wrestling? (Because they just can’t?).  This was not what I expected, at all!  You’d think that with such a big tournament there’d be a little organization!  How can there not be a schedule?  Just breathe, you’ll find your way around, and it will all work out.

As I was wandering around confused and disoriented, like I had entered a different dimension, I wondered how I’d ever make sense of this.  Then, I saw out of the corner of my eye, my son’s father jogging toward me.  (This man never hurries.  For anything).  “He’s getting ready, he’s going to wrestle in about two minutes!”  He huffed.  “What?  Where?  What?  Where do I go?”  I felt so helpless!  I followed him blindly to a seat with a perfect view of my son’s upcoming match.  Where is he?  Oh, there he is, at that table….ok, good.  Excitement is returning at this point, and I breathe another sigh of relief.  Knowing how I get at my boys’ sporting events, I told myself to keep calm and not scream.  We are indoors, after all.  I even asked my son prior to this day if I could cheer for him.  “No” was of course, the answer.  Keep calm, don’t scream, don’t embarrass him.  Got it.  Be calm and breathe.

After my son and the other boy put on their ankle cuffs and lined up, the ref blew his whistle and the two went at it.  They circled each other a couple of times, and then wham!  My son took his kid down.  They fought.  And they fought.  And they fought.  The other boy never got up, or what I would later learn to know as an escape.  My son ended up pinning him after wearing him out with some hold I still don’t know the name of, the Butcherman’s Passout-Choke Hold of Death I believe.  (Kind of illegal, my son told me later, but the ref didn’t call it, and it was working).  Mm-hmm.

As it turns out, I didn’t need to remind myself to verbally behave, because I was having a hard enough time reminding myself to breathe.  About 30 seconds into the match, I realized I hadn’t even taken a breath.  I thought I might pass out myself!  I was white knuckling my purse and about all I could do was blurt out my sons’ name every 10 seconds or so.  ANDREW!  ……..ANDREW!  This of course was extremely helpful.

I have still to this day never experienced anything quite like the intensity of a wrestling match.  I feel like a seasoned wrestling Mom now, after three seasons, and keep checking the calendar to see if it’s November yet, excited for my fourth.  It’s almost inexplicable, the feeling you get when watching your son wrestle.  Whether he’s winning or losing, it’s always the same.  It’s a crazy mixture of fright, adrenaline, pride, agony, happiness and/or sorrow.  And you run that gamut over and over; anywhere from 20 seconds (or less) to three long, agonizing periods that could last the longest nine minutes of your life.  That’s your heart and soul out there on the mat, giving his whole heart and soul, and not much else in life compares.

And even though I’m a self-proclaimed “seasoned wrestling Mom”, I still have to remind myself to breathe.

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