April 10, 2012 by David Gillaspie
Calling Spring Season.
When is the right time to leave your shoes on the mat and take the walk, the right time to hang up your head-gear?
The short answer?
Do it after you’ve created a body of work you’re satisfied with. Even then it’s probably too soon.
Why rush to join the ranks of former athletes, guys who watch sports and explain how they could still play, could still win, ‘if they wanted to?’
The Want To is the key. The more time you spend around people who could still get it done ‘if they wanted to’, the more you want to stay in your sport.
If someone says they could still play their game and win, don’t ask what stops them unless you have a few hours to kill.
The short version usually includes an injury, a coach, or an illness. The longer you listen, the more it sounds like all three.
A bone on bone knee, a chronically popped shoulder, or pinched nerves? All good reasons to take it easy, just don’t over-stress how you are still better than any NFL player.
If you quit sports because a coach seemed more interested in a paycheck than a sport; or lies, cheats, and steals; or a coach whose personal mission is driving as many from his sport as he can to prove they aren’t tough enough, find another reason. They’re not perfect. Coaches are hired to coach, not baby sit. They have teams and careers to think about.
What if someone quits because of asthma, circulation problems, or one of the dreaded diseases with no known cure? Any former athlete with these gets a pass. They’ve done all they could and don’t need the extra burden of guilt.
All good reasons to quit sports make you realize you have more to give. That is the essence of the sports fanatic. They dig out more ways to stay relevant while true athletes find new sports. They run and lift and get with their pals to compare notes and sweat it out together. That’s how they’re hardwired.
Either find new ways to compete, or find a couch and park it for a lifetime of, “I could beat that guy.”
Which one are you?
If you play team sports, you’re on your own. If you wrestle, keep reading. For wrestlers sick with the flu for their district finals, then too sick with a cold to earn their own respect at the state meet, there’s another season.
Spring season wrestling settles questions of how good, or bad, everyone really is. The 1-A guy wrestles the 6-A guy. The 145 pound guy moves up to compete in heavier weights. It’s open season for the proud and the brave.
Start with pride. If you finish your last high school wrestling season in one piece, you’re in the best shape of your life. Instead of letting it slide away on junk food and soda, learn how your idea of top conditioning matches up against all-comers.
If you were ever jobbed out of your just rewards by bad calls and poor decisions, do something to make it right. The world has enough whiners already, it doesn’t need even one more. Take the bad call, the bad break, and make it better this spring.
You have your pride? Take it for a ride. That takes bravery. Greco and freestyle means flying time. You will go up in the air and land hard at some point. You will be squeezed harder than ever before. Just know you can take it, and give it.
I heard a local guy, a senior, complain about his wrestling season. He was disappointed. He wondered if it was all worth it because he didn’t have a chance to show up when the stakes were highest. He had the bad disappointment.
“It’s not over unless you decide it’s over,” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“You go to a school that doesn’t value wrestling as much as you. The coach isn’t going to put any more time in the room than he’s legally required to. People need to live their lives, but there are other mats, other rooms.”
“You want to find out?”
“I think so.”
“You do, or you don’t. If you do, let’s go. If you need to think about it, you’re probably good where you are.”
“I want to wrestle.”
That’s all it takes to start the spring season. He went to college clinics and club workouts. He watched greco and freestyle tournaments and learned strategy.
I told him, “During the spring you can’t slam hard enough or squeeze hard enough. You can lock hands on the mat without the penalty. Instead of a tight waist, you wrench guts. Instead of landing opponents gently, you drive them down. You pummel like a thrashing machine until you see arms drop. Hopefully it won’t be yours. Let the ref decide the level of roughness.”
The kid went to the state greco and freestyle and flew at it. He found the door where wrestling lives, where competition hangs its hat, and knocked it down. He wrestled harder than ever and he placed. He got the monkey off his back. This guy took himself to a whole ‘nother level instead of holding hands with his girlfriend after school.
Did spring wrestling season make him smarter? Yes.
Did spring wrestling clear his mind for greater challenges? Yes.
Will it do the same for you, or is the couch good enough?
Dr. Colin Field-Eaton has the answer.