Sunday, February 14, 2016

Wrestling is Family

Life is built with circumstances beyond our control.  Sometimes they are great and sometimes they just suck.  This was supposed to be Neil's year.  His senior year.  He had goals.  First, he decided he would play football.  His goals were to:  1.  Get noticed.  2.  Make first string Varsity.  3.  Get 75+ tackles.  He smashed those goals.  He also was voted Best defensive lineman and best defensive player by his peers.

He wanted to carry that momentum into his wrestling season.  He had goals there too.  The main one was to get on the medal stand at state.  He worked hard in the wrestling room.  Pushing through pain, illness, mental fatigue.  He coached kids club, he worked hard in his studies to keep his grades up.  He worked hard.  It seemed that after years of being plagued with mental weakness and injuries things would turn around this year.  He was wrestling solid, staying focused.  Even through losses, he learned, regrouped and moved forward.

Going into Ozark Conference, the first time since his freshman year, he was ready.  Didn't get the full results at the tournament he wanted but he still stayed focused on the steps needed to reach his goal.  He was ready for districts, the qualifying tournament that would get him to state.   Faltering a bit in one of his matches Friday night, he fell to the backside of his bracket.  Meaning he would have to fight his way back to reach his goal on Saturday.  He was ready, he was focused.  He fought through his first match.  Fought through his second match, wrestling solid.  He was one step closer.  Three seconds left and Neil in the lead when suddenly he goes down, his opponent jumps off of him and Neil screams in pain.  Three seconds left, Neil winning.  A knee injury.  It's all over for the season and there ends the chapter of his high school wrestling career.

Heartbreak....disbelief...why?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why couldn't he just reach this one goal?  Why did it slip through his fingertips?

As we were standing inside the treatment room with Neil and the athletic trainer, one of the coaches said he thought we were more upset than Neil.  I've pondered that statement for the past 24 hours.  Yes, we were upset.  But we haven't spent the past few years living our dreams through our kids, this wasn't about us.  They have their dreams, their goals and we support them...financially and emotionally.  It broke my heart to watch his dream shatter.

Then I saw this..
Neil's dad carrying him down the stairs after the tournament was over.  And I realized that wrestling has been so much more for Neil and our family than medals and what happens on the mat.  Don't get me wrong, those things matter but the bigger picture is so much grander than anything you can see.  Nearly every coach from all the other teams came and spoke to Neil after his match.  They were sincere in their words of encouragement.  So many wrestlers from different teams came and sat with him and talked to him, offering him support, encouragement and prayers.  His coaches, teammates and their families are a wealth of support and love to all of us.  That...that is what matters the most.  Wrestling is family.  One big, extended family that pulls together when the chips are down.  What a testament to who Neil has become as a result of wrestling.  His wrestling family carried him when he was down, emotionally and physically.  Wrestling is family.

No comments: