It’s wrestling season again. A time of year my son starts asking about as soon as fall baseball is done. Months of asking when wrestling starts. Months.
We’ve known for a couple years now that he loves wrestling. I’m still coming to terms with it (after all it is a full contact and fairly violent sport), but when your kid loves something you learn to do just that. He’s had the opportunity to workout with the middle school club team this winter. He’s only nine but he’s big enough to wrestle with them. However, thanks to their years of extra experience, he’s spent a good month getting his ass kicked twice a week at practice. He’s had remarkably good spirits about it because he has been learning more than ever before. (And if that doesn’t show how much he loves this sport, I don’t know what does.)
We registered him for his first regional tournament this winter too. It was a learning experience for all of us. 300 wrestlers… 8 matches going on at all times… it took us about 5 seconds into his first match to realize that we were in over our heads. It was a rough day. (a very rough day) But even that didn’t seem to get his spirits down.
And now we’re into the short age group wrestling season (it lasts five weeks). This year he moved up into the “serious” division of youth wrestling. They keep score. There’s an end of season tournament. By and large it’s better wrestling – though you still have the boys who look shell-shocked when they come up against the kid who eats & breathes this stuff. He’s had two matches and he’s done well. Yes, winning is fun (particularly in wrestling… trust me it’s not fun AT ALL to watch your kid get smeared on the mat) but what’s fun for me is watching him put new skills to use. He’s learned a lot more than I realized in the past month.
Once again I’m reminded that wrestling is more than just moves that make me wince in sympathetic pain. Wrestling is probing for weakness and taking advantage of opportunities. There’s a definite mental game on the mat. Now if I could just figure out a way to watch the match without clenching my fists, tensing my entire body as I lean forward and holding my breath…
Let’s just say it’s a lot easier for me to watch a swim meet or a band competition.