I have to admit, the kid coming onto the mat definitely looked bigger than my son, so I doubled and triple checked at the scorer’s table.
“Tyler Guerra’s up now, right?” I asked.
“Yup,” he said.
“Tyler Guerra?” I pressed.
“Yes,” came the reply.
“Ok, Tyler,” I said. “Go for it.”
As he bravely walked out onto the mat, I got my phone ready to take some video. But by the time I’d gotten it out of my pocked, turned it on and switched from photo to video, the match was just about over — Tyler had been pinned in about 10 seconds.
I watched as two of our team’s assistant coaches questioned my son about his weight in an effort to determine what had gone wrong, and then I walked over to find out what was up.
“He’s 55 pounds,” I said.
“And this is his first year?”
“No – second. He did it last year too.”
“Well, that was a mismatch. That wasn’t right,” one of the coaches said.
“Can I get him another match?” I asked.
“Probably. Talk to Gary,” he said, referring to the head coach.
But first I wanted to check with my shaken-up son.
“Tyler – that wasn’t your fault. That was a mismatch – that kid was older, bigger and more experienced. Do you want me to get you another match that’s more even?”
Still a little stunned, he nodded in the affirmative.
So I walked over to Gary and told him what had happened.
“Let me see what I can do,” he said. About 10 minutes later, Gary came over with Tyler’s new match number.
When this opponent came onto the match, things looked much better. The referee put them into position and the match began. Right off, as with every other match, there was lots of yelling, screaming, barking — from coaches, parents and teammates. Wrestling is a very, very intense sport where the atmosphere is more like a bar fight than the more collegial environments of baseball, basketball or, dear Lord, soccer.
But I have to admit, in this rough, loud and (let’s face it) violent environment, there is something I find very valuable in terms of preparing my son for life. We all know that team sports are great, and they have an important role to play in getting one ready to succeed, but I think we sometimes forget, undervalue, or consider barbaric the preparation for one-on-one combat, whether physical or corporate.
In a team environment, you learn to help your teammates, but you also come rely on them for support. This is great when the team is around, but what if you’re suddenly alone, yet you’ve never prepared yourself for a situation in which there’s no one to turn to?
And that is what wrestling is about; that is the uniqueness that makes it, in my mind, very special. Yes, you are on a wrestling team, but when you get on the mat, your team is nowhere to be found, your opponent is there and he has some definite plans about what he’s going to do with you. And, oh by the way, EVERYONE is watching.
Success in life is primarily about having the confidence to believe that you are either master of the situation or you can become so. Confidence comes from having been tested in trials and achieved. On Saturday, my son got his butt kicked, then came back to fight a tough fight, all alone, in front of a roaring crowd, and he’s only 6. His second match may have ended in a tie but, to me, it was a great victory.