November 22, 2010 by David Gillaspie
1. The Attention
Whether you get a little or a lot, it’ll be more than you’re used to. While you’re not a rock star, someone’s brother will remember you years later. They won’t remember what happened in the match, but your name will be familiar.
Whether you remember or not, stay with the story. Don’t take it further than it needs to go. You never can tell what someone is capable of once they get over-amped.
Make it easy on everyone and say, “There’s a champion in every weight class every year. They make gold medals, silver medals, and bronze every year. I got one. Somebody else gets it next year.”
Avoid declaring yourself undefeated because, “the only person who ever beat me was myself. I am undefeated.”
Undefeated is an attention getter; this isn’t.
The real undefeated means something else.
If you’re good one year, you ought to be good the next.
People who have never wrestled think that way. They don’t know about the kid who moved to a school in your district just to wrestle you. Once you have your breakout year, you’re a target that keeps getting bigger the more you win.
But it’s a no-win situation.
You beat guys you should beat, and only lose close to guys who beat everyone they’ve ever wrestled, and it’s not good enough. If you’re a champion, you need to win every match in every weight class, date the homecoming queen, and drive a clean car.
3. The Ups
People you haven’t seen since fourth grade remember you from reading your name in the paper. They didn’t wrestle, or even finish school, but they know you. Be nice to them. They remember your exploits.
They will come to your reunions and review your finals match. It was a moment they know better than you. Learn something.
4. The Downs
Only wrestlers know the championship blues. You’re at the top of the mountain in your state, region, or nation with everyone else who won their weight. Now you’ve got to do it again to prove it wasn’t a fluke, and again, and again, and, and…settle down.
Take it one year at a time, one match. If you’ve had a great year, who’s to say next year won’t be better?
How many good years in a row can you expect? Start with one, and go from there. You’ll know when it’s time to stop, but it’s usually too early.
You won your championship when the real champ was sick, or hurt, or wrestled up a weight. Those in the know say you got lucky.
What do you do?
This is one you keep to yourself. Wrestle long enough to settle all scores. Go to enough tournaments until you get your matches settled. If it takes wrestling in college, then wrestle in college. If it takes open wrestling after college to get on the mat with the guys on your list, keep rolling.
Am I saying revenge is a big part of the wrestling lifestyle? No, but it gives you something besides your stomach to think about while you cut weight.
The truth is, there isn’t much joy for the former wrestling champion. Gain two pounds over your championship weight and your friends think you’re on your way to a hundred pounds over. They won’t say it, but they’ve seen it before.
So have you.
You remember the heavyweight from a few years back with a neck like Jabba The Hut now? Another one slapped on an easy eighty pounds and looks like Little Face from Dick Tracy with an inner-tube of fat surrounding his squinty features.
Once you’ve made weight over a season, you have a different relationship with food: you want to eat it all.
Don’t do it.
If your six-pack drops to four, or your four-pack to two, make better food choices. Once the two-pack disappears you start wondering if you ever looked any different. Wearing stretch sweat pants is no way to walk through life. Find that two-pack and buy a new belt.
The belt holes will tell you how you’re doing better than a scale.
7. Why Bother
If you ever become a shell of your former self, this question will come up, along with ‘was it worth it.’
You’ll be the one asking.
Once you ask those questions, you have to do something. You either prove it was worth it to yourself, or you stay in the shell-state.
Run. Lift weights. Find a hill to walk. Wrestling has marked you as a champion, make a mark on yourself. Show it means something to you. Mark yourself as one who learned the important lessons of wrestling:
Show up. It doesn’t mean find your place in line. It means be ready to go on the whistle. Lock in the quick-twitch jump.
Make weight. Pick a number as your goal and aim for it. No one’s asking you to chop off an arm, no matter how many times you’ve seen 127 Hours.
Make a difference. Win or lose with one attitude. Wait to celebrate or throw your gear. You’ll remember that moment the rest of your life; make it a good one.
Do not get your results and start trashing everything. Take your wins and losses and do something with them. Build on both. Figure out what went wrong and make it right.
There’s not always a good time to back down and start over, there’s not always enough room. When you find yourself backed into a tight spot, you don’t have time to back down, or room.
What do you do?
Wrestling teaches you to make the problem smaller. Control one arm, or a leg, at a time. Find balance and leverage that works for you. Finally, use your head.
It’s your fifth weapon. It makes a difference.
It comes in handy for studying, too.