Season’s End

No, I’m not talking about how depressed I got after last season of Hulu’s The Handmaids Tale.

I’m talking about wrestling.

For those that don’t know, my family has run a small wrestling club in our community for the past several years. UpCountry Wrestling always shows up as fun, rugged and as respectful as our area’s unique culture.

The season is short, but intense.  From March until May it pulls us away from everything else. Friends, routine, work endeavors. Honestly, its been a welcome change. I don’t fuss about anything but my kids. For once, its all about them. I’m not worried about my appearance or what I’m invited to or even my blog, frankly. No outside distractions. And though it’s exhausting there’s that peaceful reassurance that your priorities are in the right place.

Wrestling is a great sport.  It’s challenging, indeed, but in the long run it shapes both the physical ability and mental strength of an individual.  There is a direct result of effort and results.  You can’t rely on your star players, and star players aren’t held up by the team support, either (team sports are great too, btw). No, in wrestling its just this person and that person and a precise point system. Someone wins and someone loses, you can’t escape that.

It was Mathis’ first season. He performed as most 4 year olds would: He rolled around and had no idea what was going on. His hand was raised a couple of times and he walked off the mat crying a couple of times. More than anything, though, he is excited about the sport and these little guys are crazy cute. My painfully shy person walked out in front of thousands of screaming spectators and challenged himself physically.  amazing.

Elias, had quite a challenging season and walked off the mat defeated frequently. And not just defeated, quickly obliterated (sorry Elias).  But this was not his best. I saw in each match that he didn’t perform like I knew he could and he experienced the direct result of that. Its humbling for him and painful for me to see.  But really I don’t want to see my child dominate unless the effort was there. He could win every match his entire life and what would that benefit him? In the end, at the State tournament we finally saw him in a more true form and for that day he overcame whatever it was that was holding him back.

In addition to my kids, there were all the kids on the team. I grow so attached to their sweet faces and growing athletic spirit. Wrestling is not for the weak of heart, though somehow they let me in anyways.  Throughout the season I witness not only my children but all the of the kids go through the physical, mental, emotional challenge of the sport. Attend a wrestling tournament and you’ll definitely see tears at some point. Everyone cries because its so heavy, even the winners.  I watch these kids overcome defeat, I watch them succeed, I watch some want to surrender, but endure. I watch them go through what most adults would give up on. Myself and the parents from the stands, supporting each other and the little ones.

At the end of the season we have a camping trip (which is a whole other blog post) and its arguably the best part of the season. Imagine going to the beach with 40 of your friends! The kids are so stoked and play non-stop while the grownups get to sit back and relax and celebrate our efforts too.  We gather around in prayer before we eat and in a circle of 100 people you see that together we have taught these kids more than just strategy and endurance, we have shown them how to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  Though its a highly individual sport, you can’t make it through the season without the support of your team members and the families that make up the club.

This will be my brother-in-laws last season as head coach, and the reigns for the club will be picked up by someone else hopefully. Everything changes when this happens, so it is kind of like a series finale, and we all know that kind of hurts.  I can only hope that the opportunity and motivation continues to be available to my kids in the coming years,  and I’ll do whatever that takes to keep it going if thats what they want.  It’s all about them.

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