Tag Archives: Wrestling

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)

Confessions of a Wrestling Mom

I didn’t always like wrestling. In fact I might have hated it. I didn’t like any sport, even the sports my son participated in. Oh yes, I’d occasionally attend a wrestling meet or tournament or soccer game or rugby match, and even watched Andrew play basketball a few times, but being raised in a family in which sports was not important, I didn’t like going to any of those events. It meant shrill whistles, or loud buzzers in a smelly gymnasium in the case of basketball and wrestling; or chilly, even rainy weather in sports played outdoors like soccer and rugby. It meant either being ignored by other players’ parents or having to participate in dreaded “small talk” with them.

I didn’t understand the rules of most of the sports, but could figure out the ones that involved a ball. The team had to move that ball from one end of the field to the other and put it through some sort of goal. That way the team would score points. I did not understand wrestling at all. Two kids of similar weight would roll around on the mat while an adult with a striped shirt made strange hand signals. They’d get up sometimes. Sometimes one would get on his hands and knees while the other one put his arm around the opponent’s middle. They’d roll around some more and eventually the time would end and one of the kids would smile and the other would cry, or at least look very sad.

Although Andrew started wrestling in elementary school, I didn’t have any interest in it until he was in high school and was chosen to be on the varsity team. I attended all of his matches that first year and most of the tournaments. I got to know the parents in the bleachers and began to learn what the referee’s hand signals meant. I even learned about scoring. I learned that a take-down was worth 2 points, as was a “reversal”. I learned that if a wrestler held his  opponent in such a way the opponent’s back formed an acute angle with the floor the wrestler doing the holding would get “back points” — the amount depending on how long they held the opponent there. I learned that a pin (or “fall) was worth 6 points, but the match could be over before 3 2-minute periods if one player earned 15 more points than his opponent and that was called a “tech fall”.

That year I also volunteered to redesign and maintain the team’s web site, which helped me learn the rules. I learned the names of the wrestlers and usually went home with throat raw from cheering the players as they “grappled”.

I never expected to love this sport. The bleachers are still uncomfortable — especially after sitting on them for 12 hours or more. The gymnasiums still smell like old socks and are usually far too warm. The buzzers and whistles (and shouting fans) are still loud. All that, often combined with glaring overhead lights, makes for a sensory over-stimulation not often found outside heavy-metal rock concerts. Yet, I love it all — sights, sounds, smells, physical discomfort. It energizes me. I’m proud to be a part of it and proud of our wrestlers and proud of my son.

This weekend we sent 7 of our wrestlers to the state tournament and last night 4 of them placed in the top 6 in their respective weight classes. (Andrew took 4th place)

My son -- 4th best 145 lb wrestler in the state of Maryland

[Please note: Several females wrestle, but I used typically masculine pronouns.]

My Mother, My Self — Part 1

My mother and me 1965
My mother and me 1965

Last night I dreamed I was going to be the 103 lb wrestler for my son’s wrestling team in a tournament. For some reason (the snows perhaps) the rules of who could wrestle for the team were relaxed so that the parent of a wrestler could fill in for another wrestler. Even in the dream I must have realized how wrong this was — and not only because it’s been 10 years since I was 103 lbs — because I reasoned with myself that I was just a filler. There was no way I’d win the match.

Anyway as I was getting ready to leave with Dean and Andrew, my mom walked into the room and said she was going to go too — that she’d missed so many wrestling meets this year.

It is not unusual for my mom to pop up in a dream. When I dream of being at home (meaning my current home) the house is often the house in which I grew up and my mom is always there. She’s often in dreams in which I dream of my husband and children.

I think I’ve known this for a long time, but never wanted to admit it, but when my mom is in those dreams she is me. Even if I am in the dream, I think my mother represents me. She’s usually doing the right thing, while the other me is goofing around or as in last night’s dream, trying to get the scale to work while everyone is waiting in the car to go to the tournament. In the dream from last night she made the decision to not make dinner, but to pick it up on the way — and if I need to cut weight could eat the sandwich after weighing in.

I think she is the authority figure in the dreams (I’ll write more about how I perceive authority figures in my life in a later post) but I don’t seem to have a problem with that — in dreams.

Today is my mom’s birthday. I’m glad she was going to be there to watch me wrestle, but luckily for the team and me, I woke up before I even got to the tournament.

[And just so you know — Mom’s alive and well and even on Facebook]

J. D.

Our wrestling team won first place at a tournament last night — our second first place of the season. We’ve got a great group of boys — they’re all polite to adults, kind to each other and, of course, hard workers.

I’ve posted about J. D. before — after our last tournament win. He’s the guy who just began wrestling this year as our heavyweight. I wrote about how he learned the sport quickly and easily and placed first in his weight class at the first tournament. Well, he did it again last night. He pinned his formidable opponent in a tough match.

But the thing about J. D. — for me anyway — is not his wrestling ability. It is his kindness. It is his huge heart that can be seen in so many little ways — from his hugs when he wins (or when his teammates win) to his words of encouragement to his teammates as well as wrestlers from other teams he’s defeated in previous matches. (I heard him heard shout, “Use your strength!” to a wrestler he’d beaten in a close match earlier in the day who was wrestling for 3rd place on a mat in front of him.)

When a teammate hurt his shoulder, J. D. was happy to hold the bag of ice on the injured shoulder so the teammate could use both hands to eat. When my son won a difficult match, J. D. wrapped his arm around him, and gave him a brotherly hug. He is always giving.  Always.

What I didn’t mention in the last post was the fact that J. D.’s had a tough go of things. He’s being raised by a single mother and now lives in a shelter with her. When I first learned about his housing situation I wondered if they’d be staying in the area or moving soon, as so many of the shelter kids do. I hoped he’d be sticking around, at least through the end of the school year. I hoped that perhaps a college wrestling scout would see him and perhaps offer him a scholarship somewhere. I don’t really know his circumstances, but a scholarship couldn’t hurt, right?

Last night, though, I found out that J. D. is what is called a “5th year senior”. I guess because he’d moved around a lot, he needed more credits to graduate. He was supposed to be able to stay at the school through May and graduate, but now, for some reason, he is being made to graduate in January. That means that after next week he’ll be gone. Gone from the school. Gone from the team. Gone from our lives.

I am angry about this. Not because he was a winner. Not because his leaving might make us more vulnerable to better heavyweights on other teams, but because I will miss him. His personality. His kindness. His caring about everyone — teammates, parents of the teammates, his opponents, his coaches. The world. How could it hurt to let him stay at the school for 5  more months? His leaving will hurt J. D. and everyone whose life he’s touched this year.

W00t! W00t!

Ok. Coming from a mom, w00t doesn’t mean much, but this is w00tworthy.

Whitman Vikings Wrestling won the Mad Mats Wrestling Championship and had 5 wrestlers win the top honors. We had many more place as well.

The most exciting of the many exciting matches was J. D.’s championship match.

J. D. just started wrestling this year. He began practicing a month ago and had his first match a week ago. He was recruited to the team by merit of his size (he’s a heavy-weight — a hard-to-come-by weight class) and strength. Saturday he received a championship medal.

After his win he hugged nearly everyone in the room. What a feel-good moment it was.

Yesterday

Yesterday was a busy day — but most Saturdays in December tend to be that way.

It was the first wrestling meet this season for my son’s wrestling team. It was a “tri-meet” and we beat both teams — yay.

We had our first snow of the season — only a light dusting, but it looked pretty coming down and was a pleasant surprise to see when we left the high school gymnasium at 5:00.

Last night was my company holiday party. I work from home, part time, for a consulitng company and consider the party one of my “benefits”. Free food & alcohol for an evening. Plus dancing and fake gambling if you’re into that. Actually I don’t like to go that much. I don’t know anyone there — this year I recognized a couple people from my days of working in the office (for a company that was bought by the one for which I work now), but Dean really wanted to go.

Last year we had a good time — sitting with folks who also worked at home or in other states. This year we sat with people who work in the office. They all seemed to know each other and were very young. When did consulting companies allow 12 year olds to work for them?

Marcia’s funeral was yesterday. I spent much of the day thinking about that — that it still seems impossible.

Poor Andrew

The kids and I went out to dinner this evening. We all had a lazy Sunday, but Saturday was big for both kids. Andrew placed (5th) in Regionals and Clare took her SAT. Andrew was giddy with the knowledge that he could eat what he wanted and not stay after school for the grueling practice wrestlers go through.

Saturday night Andrew ate the last of the ice cream, declaring it to be his first ice cream in 3 months. Tonight he ate sausage soup, tortellini with sausage, several bites of appetizers, an entire ice cream dessert, two root beers and half a cannoli. When we got home an email was waiting for Andrew from his coach. The coach wanted Andrew to practice with the team and be prepared to possibly step in should someone in his weight class not be able to wrestle.

He was nearly inconsolable. We talked and he is now prepared to have another week of hard practice and little food. After his dinner tonight, I’m not sure if he could loose the weight that he gained from the ice cream and pasta.

He asked me to buy him a lot of fruit for the rest of the week.