Monday, January 16, 2017

Get Me The Padded Helmet...

Seven years ago, I posted photos of Youngest in his Karate gear on Facebook. The photo that popped up under my "memories", was one of my favorites. He was sitting waiting to spar in his pure white gi and bright red helmet, his round face squished tight inside. His eyes are so clear in the photo, centered and peaceful.  A moment that rarely existed for him back then, captured in those few seconds of rest.  He competed until he was a red belt and then fizzled out.  He has entertained going back to classes, but other things seem to be getting in the way, and it's just never quite happened.

He tried basketball through the rec league. He liked it, but knew at his height there was no way he could compete on a High School level.  He has Scouts, which he also enjoys, but that too will be ending soon, as he will be starting his Eagle project this summer. And while he can continue until he turns 18, he sees how busy the older Scouts get with school and work, and knows deep down that it will not last much through his Junior year. So, while I was not surprised that he was looking for something else to do, I was completely taken back when he came home in November and told me he was joining the wrestling team.

 The.  Wrestling. Team.

The hardest, most demanding, of all sports in his school. The one with full physical skin contact... that can lead to ring worm and staff infections.  And those snazzy singlets.... *shudder*.... Lord help him. *sigh*

Our school has one of the best programs in the state.  Partly because of the recruitment process that starts for most kids in elementary school, and partly because of the extremely demanding yet unbelievably supportive head coach, who has coached here for over 20 years. He is tough.  They practiced on Christmas Eve.  They practiced during the blizzard two weeks ago. Their 6 day a week workouts are the most brutal of all the sports.  And yet, this coach is like the Pied Piper to them.

This year there are roughly 67 kids on the team.  Of those, maybe 15 are Varsity.  He reserves 14 of the remaining 53 for the starting JV line.  This means that roughly 39 or so compete against each other, but not in tournaments.  And yet, they stay.  They stay for the chance of a "wrestle off" to earn their place on the line.  When one kid isn't preforming, is disrespectful in any capacity, or his grades waiver, there are tens more that will take their place. I've never seen anything like it.

There are 4 boys in Youngest's weight class. And somehow, having never wrestled before, ever, he earned a spot on the JV start line.  They've had him weigh in for back up Varsity.  They've had him weigh in in front of opposing caches for a 2 pound swing (whatever that means). He works out.  He's keeping his grades up on his own. He's eating healthier that he ever has.  It's given him a place, separate of his brother, a way to challenge himself and push his limits. It gives his a feeling of belonging.

I rarely catch his meets.  Mostly because of my work schedule and his brother's basketball schedule, but also partly because they are tough to watch. Last week he competed against a Varsity player on an opposing team.  He lost the match on points, which in layman's terms means he lasted the entire match without getting pinned, but his opponent was more technical.  And since his opponent is ranked tenth in the State, I suspect he did quite well.  He won his first match of the day today, only to lose the subsequent 3.  In his second match, his opponent flipped him, slamming him into the mat by way of his face (that's not legal), knocking the wind out of him and leaving him needing to be checked by the coaches and refs before they could restart. There was no way that his small ear protectors, flimsy forehead padding, or mouth guard could protect him from that. He lasted about 2 more minutes before he succumbed to the pin. The refs didn't call the penalty.  Like in any sport, there's always calls that go unnoticed.

But it does make me wish I could put him back in that full head, padded red sparring helmet.  That sucker could take a hit.

10 comments:

  1. Wow, I salute him for his courage, and his ability to make a name for himself in it. In other news, I once wrestled with Laurie and a wall prevented me from being thrown outside.

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    1. Smart to do it within a restrictive environment when lacking a referee. :)

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  2. Wrestling is a tough sport. And I'm pretty sure wrestling moms have at least as much courage as the wrestlers themselves.

    I would have a really tough time watching one of my kids do a sport like that.

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    1. Honestly, it's not so bad when they play by the rules and the refs do their jobs... The human pretzel thing though... so weird... I just keep thinking "How is this fun???".

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  3. Wrestling, ok I know nothing about wrestling, just saying but way to go anyone who is doing it

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    1. Yeah, me neither. It's a learning experience for us all.

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  4. Oh wow, I would be a nervous wreck too to watch his matches, but good for him for taking on a very physically demanding sport and doing well with it!!!

    betty

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    1. Sometimes I just have to think "I only have to pay for one kid's hospital bill.."

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  5. Congrats to him! He's found his niche. As his mother, I know you are so proud - and yet worried. It is a very physical sport and would be hard to watch.

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    1. One of the captains is ranked very high in the State, he's VERY good, and very technical... his mother attends every meet, takes hundreds of photos, and won't watch him. She will rely on everyone else to take video and pictures for her. :)

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