November 4, 2009 by David Gillaspie
DOING YOUR PART
Winning cures most things in sports. If you feel bad, you feel better with a win. You’re better looking; you even smell better. People look at you and expect you to say something to help them win. And you might help. At least it can’t hurt. Keep it simple, but first you have to win.
Before a dual meet one year a local wrestler asked me when he should use his special move. He had a good fireman’s carry, sneaky, Larry Owings on Dan Gable sneaky. He was going against a seasoned guy. I told him to wear him down, crowd him, jerk him around, then hit it hard in the third and he’ll go.
Instead the kid hits it in the first thirty seconds and collapses. His opponent pushed him back and pinned him. The ref slapped the fall, the winner punched the mat. Then he jumped up to celebrate the miracle of victory like he’d won the biggest match of his life. Maybe it was, but thirty seconds?
Sometimes winning feels like a gift, the sort of gift you share, a gift others really like. The kid with the fireman’s gave a win away, but it happens. That’s the reason you see two wrestlers shaking each other down in the third period. One of them is going to steal a win, rip a win; one of them will celebrate the miracle of victory.
Miracle of victory?
My buddy wants me to teach his freshman wrestler how to throw. What do I teach him? This is where wrestling legacy kicks in. There is no official wrestling contract but if there was, winning would be near the top: “I, the undersigned, do hereby declare my intentions and efforts to win my wrestling matches.” Spell it out in clear terms.
I’ll show the freshman everything I know as many times as he wants. If someone asks you to teach their family member a few wrestling tricks just do it. It’s what you do. It’s also in the non-existent wrestling contract, right at the top near the winning clause.
I’ll work with my buddy’s kid until the old man says enough, and I’ll take it to a swimming pool. That’s right, swimming pool throwing practice from the Old Flyer. It’s called self-preservation. I’m fifty four and I’m not looking for a hard landing if I can avoid it.
My last hard landing came when my own wrestler kid saltoed me over the television set in the living room. It was a great throw, but I caved in the sheet rock wall. I remember going over the top and thinking ‘the kid gets it, so is the living room.’ It reminded me of something.
I bounced off the wall and rolled, knocked over the television stand and a lamp, before springing to my feet for the next lesson. My wife had the phone in her hand to dial 911. Medical? Fire? Police? Wrestling tips? I’m not showing the new kid how to break a house.
I will show him the steps and the leverage though, the leverage and the steps of the balance dance. I’ll remind him that steps and leverage depend on balance. Move to advantage and away from threat; move to threat when you have the advantage.
Balance means committing yourself to go one way or the other; hopefully the steps and leverage take you past the balance point first. If you’re not past the balance point first you might get launched. Do it quickly and avoid frequent flier points; throw first and get a pilot’s license instead. Get past that balance point often enough and you add shiny bars and stars to your pilot’s hat; maybe earn a Captain’s rank.
“Hello ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain, Captain Jordan. Today we’ll take a few low altitude flights. Buckle up; it will be a rough landing.”
I have a good feeling about my new student. I saw him put a front headlock on his dad’s neck that a chiropractor still works on. That’s a move in the right direction. Relentlessness. I tell my buddy he’s going to be his son’s throwing dummy, so pick a wall, any wall. Just keep away from the television set.
I remind him my kid won Oregon Greco and Freestyle championships after I hit the wall. I sacrificed one wall and tell him he’ll need two walls to go with his sprung neck to get the elusive Triple Crown. There will be demolition work on the march to the miracle of victory and I’ll do my part. I’ll just make sure the kid understands there are no front headlocks allowed in the pool.