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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Sports  |  House: Booksie Classic
The story of a young wrestler and the true meaning of family.

Submitted: March 03, 2015

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Submitted: March 03, 2015




The following story is one made simply from me spending the past couple of year with my boys in the sport of wrestling. Growing up, I never had the opportunity to wrestle, so I settled with basketball. While I still enjoy basketball, wrestling has overtaken it for my preferred winter sport. From just watching my sons and their teammates the past couple of years, I've come to realize that wrestling is so much more than just another sport. It's teaching them lessons that they'll carry on with them for the rest of their lives. So, it is from that, and so much more, that I came up with the idea to write this short story, about a young wrestler, striving for his shot to earn a medal in the state finals.


“Alright, gentlemen, shake hands,” the referee said as he readied his whistle.

 I had spent the last 10 years of my life preparing for this. From that first practice as a five year old all the way down to my final warm-up heading into tonight’s bout. Every kid dreams of placing in states and here I was, ready for the biggest bout of my life.

It all began when my dad asked me if I was interested in going to the local community center to check out a wrestling practice. He simply said to check it out and, if I liked it, he’d sign me up. The first night was really cool. It was a lot of running around and laughing. We learned how to take a shot and practiced it a good bit. I told dad that I was in.

The first season was definitely a learning experience. I learned a lot of cool moves and the coaches were very patient with me. Problem was, I wasn’t able to use those moves to my advantage and ended up losing a lot. To be honest, my first few years were extremely discouraging. It seemed like a lot of the kids were better than me and knew the moves better than I did.

I was able to get a win here and there, but could never get on a good roll. All along, though, my coaches kept encouraging me. I remember coming off of the mat after a particular match in my second year, I had just lost 13-4, hadn’t won a match all year, and only had one more remaining. My mom and dad did their best to encourage me, but it just didn’t work.

Then, Coach Carl came over to me. He took me into the locker room to have a talk with me. He told me how proud he was of me for sticking with it even though the year was tough. He told me that he, my parents, and the rest of my coaches were all very proud and that they knew there was a good wrestler just waiting to come out of me. I smiled and thanked him.

My last match of my second year was against a kid that had pinned me only two weeks before. I looked at Coach Carl and my parents and smiled. I went onto the mat thinking that no matter what, I was going to make that kid work. That night, I wrestled better than I ever had before, shocking the kid 15-14. My coaches were so proud, my mom was bawling, and I even think I saw a little tear in my dad’s eye.

My third year was a definite learning curve, but I began to show potential. I worked hard and began to get better at the various moves I had learned and even picked up a few new ones along the way. Not only that, but as I grew, I began to realize that not only was this a team that I was a part of, it was a family. Every teammate encouraged one another and we all worked hard to make one another better.

Finally, by my fifth year, I was competing in tournaments, even taking third in one and taking home a trophy. I’ll never forget the night I brought home that trophy. I couldn’t have been prouder. I even took my trophy to bed and slept with it by my side that night. I decided that I was doing to do everything that I could to earn more trophies.

I continued to improve through the years, even taking home a couple of first place trophies in various local tournaments. However, I would just miss placing in states every year. However, that was about to change.

My final year of middle school, I became increasingly better every practice. The coaches taught us new moves every week and I continued trying to incorporate them into my style. However, I always went back to my favorite from my early years, the cross face cradle, every time I saw the opportunity.

I was entered in areas as the 3 seed in the tournament. Only the top 4 would go to states. I won my first two bouts with relative ease, getting pins in the first and second period respectively. My third bout was against one of the tougher kids I’d seen that year, and I lost 5-3 in overtime. Fortunately, I was able to wrestle my way back and get a rematch with the kid for 3rd place, defeating him 4-3.

I had made it. All of my hard work was paying off. After I got my medal, all of my coaches, teammates, and all of the team’s parents came to congratulate me. It was such an overwhelming feeling of love that my dad and I both cried as he hugged me. Next week was states!

That whole week, I practiced harder than I ever had. My coaches did everything they could to work with me, my teammates worked hard with me, and the whole wrestling family was there to encourage me. Friday night came and it time to rest up before the big day.

The next morning, my dad and I were up extremely early and on the way to the gym. After weighing in, I grabbed some fruit for breakfast and made my way to the mat to loosen up a bit. My dad brought the bracket to me and we studied it together. I was the 10th seeded wrestler out of 16 and I had a long way to go if I wanted to take home some hardware.

My first bout was against the 7 seed, who dominated me the entire first period. After the first two minutes, I was down 7-0 and hurting big time. I was given choice and my coach and I agreed to put me on bottom. I knew that if I wanted to win this, I had to do something immediately. On the whistle, I exploded and turned into the kid. I was able to get behind him and, after about 23 seconds of working, I was able to put him on his back.

After a good bit of struggle, with about 2 seconds left in the second period, the greatest sound a wrestler had ever heard came out. The ref slapped and mat and blew his whistle. I had just upset the 7 seed!

After shaking hands with my opponent and his coaches, I walked to my coaches and spoke with them for a moment. My dad was waiting at the side of the mat and gave me a huge hug. My mom wasn’t far behind, even though she’d lost her voice from screaming so loud. She hugged and kissed me.

My next bout was against the two seed, and it didn’t end well. I had a good bit of control throughout the first period. However, I got caught in the second period while trying to work a move on him and he cradled me. Down to the consolation bracket I went. I was able to win my next two bouts against loser ranked opponents, both by points.

All I needed to place was to win my next bout. The winner would go on to the 3rd place bout, being guaranteed a medal. I spent some time alone in the locker room. Just I and my headphones, trying to stay focused on the task at hand.

There was a knock at the door. My coach stuck his head through the doorway. It was time.

I went out to the gym. There weren’t nearly as many people on the mats now. A lot of the wrestlers from earlier on in the day had gone home already. This was my time. It was my time to shine. I did some stretches and jumped around a bit to loosen up. My opponent made his way onto the mat. I followed and took my place on the mat.

“Alright, gentlemen, shake hands,” the referee said as he readied his whistle.

We shook hands, the ref sounded his whistle and we began. We began by circling around one another for a couple of seconds, before my opponent took his first shot. I was prepared and sprawled, keeping my legs as far from him as possible. I tried floating behind him, but his quickness kept me from getting positioning, and points.

We rolled around on the mat for the better part of a minute, before finally resetting and both getting back to our feet as the first period ended. My opponent deferred to me for the second period and my coach put me on the bottom. On the whistle, I quickly exploded out of his arms and to me feet. I peeled his hands off of me and turned toward him, gaining a point for the escape.

We tied up a couple of times through the second period, but neither of us could gain anything. The whistle sounded and it was time for the third and final period. My opponent chose bottom and prepared for the start of the period. On the whistle, I was able to keep a tight grip on him, keeping him from getting to his feet. We rolled around on the mat for about 45 seconds before finally rolling out of bounds.

We got back into position and prepared for the whistle. The ref blew his whistle, I tightened my grip, and my opponent did his best to get to his feet. For about the first five seconds, I was able to keep a grip, but he was able to overpower me this time. He made it to his feet, peeled my hands away, and turned to face me. Just as the referee raised his hand for the point, the whistle sounded. The third period was over, and we were tied.

I knew going into the overtime period that all I needed to do was get a takedown and it was over. I was one takedown away from guaranteeing my first ever medal at states. My opponent and I took our places on the mat and prepared for the whistle. My opponent struck first, taking a shot, but I was able to sprawl and keep him at bay.

We both reset to our feet and circled around a couple of times. I decided that it was my time to be aggressive and took a shot, but my opponent was ready for it. He tried getting around me, but was unable and we both got back to our feet. My opponent quickly took his shot.

I attempted to sprawl, but he was able to get his arm around my right leg. I saw the clock out of the corner of my eye. There were ten seconds left. I tried my best to keep on his leg, but again, he overpowered me. He quickly began to float on me. Before I could stop him and before the time could run out, he got behind me and had control. The ref raised his hand and blew his whistle, which 2 seconds left.

It was over. In my mind, all of the hard work that I’d done was for nothing. I shook my opponents hand, went to his coaches and shook their hands, then made my way to my coaches. I was beside myself. My coaches did the best that they could to console me, but they knew it wouldn’t work. My parents weren’t far behind. They both hugged me and told me how proud they were of my. After a few minutes, I was finally calmed down.

I lifted up my head and began to walk toward the locker room. What I saw when I looked up; however, was not in the least bit what I expected. Standing in front of me were all of my teammates, with their parents, and all of the other coaches. They were all clapping for me and smiling.

 It was at this point that I realized something. It’s not about the trophies. It’s not about the medals. Wrestling is about family. I learned more from losing that day than I’ll ever learn from winning. These people weren’t just teammates and friends. This was my family. They were with me at all of my high points, and now they were still right there for my lowest point.

On the ride home that night, I had this overwhelming feeling of happiness. Yes, I didn’t take home any hardware. What I took home was better. I took home a true sense of love. The feeling that my wrestling family gave me was so much better than what I’d get from any trophy or medal. That night, before bed, I went to my parents, hugged them, and thanked them for letting me have the chance to go to the community center all those years ago.

I would go on to be a solid wrestler, even placing in the state finals my senior year, followed by a solid college wrestling career. But, of all of the memories I have from my wrestling days, I still look back most fondly on the day I lost all those years ago. The day that I was shown what wrestling was really all about. Wins are good. Trophies are great. But, nothing compares to the feeling of knowing you’re part of a family.


© Copyright 2020 Raymond J. All rights reserved.

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