The Faces Of Wrestling

It is interesting to me to observe the boys as they finish up conditioning and gear up for the official practice season to start.  I have such love for our team, each and every kid.

The freshmen, with the ‘deer in the headlights’ look on their faces and on the faces of their parents, both who will need coaching, mentoring, guidance, and friendship.   Most of them did not participate in youth wrestling, and one or two short middle school seasons is all they know of how this goes.  They know they love the sport or they wouldn’t be back.  What they don’t know is that High School wrestling is Middle School wrestling’s, insane, ugly, angry, big brother.  They haven’t yet finished up a practice where the whole team has been worked to the breaking point, where they thought in their drama-laden teenage minds that they might truly die, and are listening to coach’s after-practice talk panting for air, faces red from exertion and sometimes tears.  They haven’t yet gotten a glimpse of their future opponents and the skill level and strength they’ll be going up against.  They haven’t stepped into a tournament circle and had to shake hands with someone they know is going to mop the mat with them, but they have to try to stay alive anyway.  But they’ll learn, just as all their teammates have learned before them.

The seniors, who’ve seen it all and just have that ‘senior’ air about them.  They personally know the kids they’ll be going up against, because they attended camps with them and have been wrestling against the same kids for the last three or more years.  They know their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, and their opponents know theirs.  It never fails to amaze me how these boys can do it; converse, joke and laugh with a kid like he’s an old friend while they are warming up to do battle with each other.  But that’s also one of the many reasons I love this sport.  There’s a special look on the faces of our seniors.  It’s one of excitement for this to be their most memorable season, a little bit of cockiness knowing that they are top dog, and hope that they’ll leave a legacy talked about in the locker room for years to come.  I’m confident this look will change by seasons’ end, to one I don’t care to think about right now.

The juniors, who look and feel a lot like the seniors.  There is wisdom there, but they also know they are still paying some dues.  The juniors are fun to be around.  They are the most jocular of the group.  They are not “green”, but they have not yet reached alpha status, either.  And it’s all good with them.  There’s no pressure to be the leaders, and they’re not at the bottom of the totem pole.  They’re just happy to be there.

And last but not least, the sophomores.  I have a special place in my heart for the sophomores on our team.  Maybe it’s because my son is one of them.  My post The Season From Hell (How Our Team Learned To Swim) gives some insight into the tough year our sophomores endured last year.  I have seen them walk in to the practice room with new resolve.  They know something this year that they didn’t know last year.  Some of them stayed active in wrestling and did summer camps, some of them didn’t……all have grown, both physically and emotionally.   You can see it in their walk, hear it in their matured voices, but most of all you can see it in their eyes.  There is no more fear, no more uncertainty, only knowing.  There will be no surprises this year for these sophomores.  They know they can handle whatever comes their way.  And I have every faith that they’ll handle it all with grace and style.

I’m so excited for the season to start, and I hope that the look of a loving mother and ardent fan supports them in the ways they need it the most.

Wrestle smart, gentlemen, wear the look of pride and victory.

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