Friday, May 31, 2013

Vow to not quit.

My kids have heard this story soooo many times. I was a freshman on the best wrestling team our high school ever had. We finished 3rd in the state. I know that isn't awesome compared to others. However, there were a grand total of 15 of us with 11 weight classes. That same class won our city's first state championship in football. I was one of three non-seniors on the varsity. The seniors were awesome. They made a habit of beating the crap out of anyone that thought they belonged on the team.

I took the worst beatings of my life that year. There were twins that beat me every single night until I bled and cried. I longed to get a takedown once per week against them. One was a state champion that year. Getting that single takedown was the reward to keep me going. Week in and week out he destroyed everyone put in front of him. He went undefeated that year. Nobody came close. In the practice room, I could score...sometimes. That was seed for my success.

The next year our team had nothing. Everyone graduated. We sucked. I was the leader left over. I had to recruit. I tried bringing in the jocks that weren't playing or starting at basketball. They didn't have the hunger of the guys I found to wrestle. Since that time, I can tell when someone is going to win at any cost or will make excuses. By my senior year we had rebuilt to having a good team, not great, but good. We ended up ranked and won some tournaments. That was a vast improvement over the previous two years of bottom dwelling.

The team I left was 40-50 strong. There was much more inclusion of willing warriors. My original team was strictly alpha heavy. The team I left challenged each other but respected those that would strive for greatness out of themselves. The following years they won some conference championships and achieved some things never before done by my home town. I didn't do it alone. I had young men around me that bought into what I was preaching.

One guy that bought into me was a kid that had never wrestled until his senior year. He lost his mother to cancer around ten years old. He was the oldest of three boys. His senior year, his father got his leg caught in a combine and bled out. The boys watched as it happened. It shouldn't surprise anyone that he could not be pinned. He didn't win much. His record was maybe 4-24, but you couldn't pin him. That young man saved us many points during the season.

Winning isn't always as clear as the end score. Improvement at a personal level is winning. I taught my wife how to recognize a wrestler quit. It is very apparent when you know what to look for. It's the drop of their head, the relaxation of their arm, or the look in their eye. Quitters are going to quit. Men recognize when they quit and vow to not do it again. And when they do it again, they revow to not do it again. Losers whine about how unfair it is.


  1. Very solid post here. As a four year wrestler too, I went through a similar experience. I was an ok wrestler that made it to state my senior year, but wasn't anything special. One of the more gratifying things was being awarded "Most Tenacious" either my freshman or sophmore year as I never gave up even when getting destroyed. Only was pinned a handfull of times in my HS career. That attitude carries over to other endeavors today, and you're right, you can see if people have the will to fight or if they'll give up pretty easily once you put them in a situation that challenges them.

    Our gym did the Crossfit Football workout Kalsu for Memorial Day. Known as one of the most brutal workouts of all (5 burpees on the minute, then 135# thrusters for the men to 100 total reps). I was a little surprised that so many people fought through that one as I had some pegged differently. Many wrapped up in the 45-60 minute range. Brutal and a true test of mental fortitude.

    1. Kalsu was programmed at our gym as well. The day before was RLB's birthday in which I had a few too many drinks with him - is that a good enough excuse for skipping the gym? :) I heard it was brutal and that a few got close to puking.

      I've noticed the toughest workouts like that tend to bring out the most comradery where everyone encourages one another and stays by their side until they've finished.

  2. Great post.

    Wrestling had a huge impact on me. Seeing the varsity warm ups in my locker my sophomore year probably changed the course of my life forever. Some of the lessons took a long time for me to understand, though.

    Now I have the privilege of coaching my son. Just hope I can help him learn faster than I did.

  3. Wrestling mentality made me better at everything. I used to drop a fair amount of weight. So now, if I'm not hungry, every problem seems small.


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