The Call To Wrestle

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October 15, 2010 by David Gillaspie

Go ahead and answer; it’s for you.

Tell someone you wrestle, or you’re thinking about starting, and you get two responses.

They get it.

Or, they don’t.

If they get it, the person you’re talking to starts going over what you can expect if you’ve never wrestled.

If they don’t get it, they need help.

This is the help you can give them when they start the usual line of questions:

1. Why would you wrestle?  No one wrestles.

To help them understand that everyone wrestles, reach out and clamp their wrist and tell them to take your hand off.  They will either pull your hand away with their other hand, try to shake your hand off, or they’ll rotate their wrist toward your thumb and break free. 

That’s wrestling.

2. Why would you want to be that close to an opponent?

Sure wrestling is an up-close sport.  If you don’t share sweat on your feet, you will on the mat.  That’s close, but not the sort of close wrestlers try to get. 

The mental part of the sport is under-appreciated.  A wrestler gets into an opponent’s head and breaks them if they can.  It makes for an easier match.  You can’t see the closeness of fear, but it’s there.  What you see instead is someone willing to ride a 3-1 deficit to the final whistle because they know that’s all they’ll get. 

It might as well be 31-1.

3. How can you stand wearing that little uniform.

Football players wear their jerseys to school on game day.  Basketballers wear their gear like an extra shirt. 

No wrestler wears their singlet to school on match day.

If you have a teammate decked out in his one piece and headgear in math class, help him out.

Why do wrestlers wear a singlet?  Maybe because those guys are in the best shape of any athlete and want to let the audience know, but it’s not that.  Maybe it’s because the sport has always been run on the cheap and a singlet isn’t expensive, but it’s not that either. 

The singlet is an improvement on shirtless or buck naked like the first wrestler’s uniforms. 

In that context, the singlet is perfect.

4. I don’t think I could stand out by myself on the mat.

You won’t be lonely.  There’s the other wrestler and the referee for company.  You might wish you were by yourself when it’s all over and you can’t get away from the other wrestler, or when the ref misses points.

The funny thing about standing on the mat is you’re never alone.  There’s more than one person in the crowd wrestling through you.  Your style reminds them of their style, or you wrestle in their weight class before the bacon kicked in.

More than that, a wrestler stands out with all other wrestlers.  Everyone begins the same.  Some improve and some quit, but they all start the same: use your body as a weapon against your opponent.  That’s all you’ve got.  The singlet doesn’t hide any secret weapons.

The wrestling dad watches his kid and harkens back to his mat-days.  The wrestling brother watches his siblings and takes note on what to work on in the garage mat.  The wrestling mom unleashes her siren and makes sure there are snacks after the match.

The call to wrestle is fairly quiet, but it echoes for a lifetime.  You won’t compete in front of hundreds of thousands of rabid fans.  You may never make it off the JV mats. 

Just be sure of one thing, once you’ve wrestled, you’re a wrestler.  It leaves a mark. 

If you’re a wrestler right now, make your mark.

Do you hear the phone ring?  It’s Alexander Graham Bell reminding you to go to practice, and take your pals with you.

“This is Al.  Drink plenty of water, warm up and stretch out, and listen to your coach.  Can you hear me?”


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