Wrestling teaches mental and physical toughness

Kyle Schirle, A&E Editor

Toughness, many think you are born with this trait. This was my opinion in my younger years, going through various sports like soccer, baseball and field hockey, always thinking that I was a tough kid. However, I was quickly slammed to the ground (literally) with the realization that toughness is earned. Growing up, I idolized my oldest brother, Justin, and wanted to be just like him, so I joined the sport he gave his time to in high school: wrestling. I thought it was going to be easy, after all, you’re wrestling on mats, the season is only about 12 weeks and I made it through the preseason.

On my first day, I thought I was an absolute animal. I was winning matches and making it through. Then, I changed partners to a kid who was 190 pounds of pure muscle: Jim Flavin. Every day I got my butt kicked, and I had to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. Wrestling was who I was freshman year, it was always on my mind and I was always talking about it. Until I broke, one day I practice I decided I had enough. No matter how much the coaches tried to keep me on the team, I refused. I was broken and didn’t want to face the fact that I was. For three years, I told myself “it just wasn’t my thing” or “I couldn’t get into it,” but I knew the truth was I was scared.

When I was a junior, I decided to go to the wrestling senior night and realized I had made a mistake. I loved wrestling. When I started senior year on my first day back in four years, everybody was looking at me probably wondering, “Why is this kid back”? Didn’t he quit.” I didn’t care, I was there to make it through. My coach Chris McGrath pulled me over and told me not to quit, and I had no plans to. I’m not saying it was easy; I had to wrestle two state qualifiers almost every day. That combined with intense practices really takes a toll on you. But eventually, after a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I made it through. In wrestling, you learn a number of tools and abilities besides how to grapple.

I learned something that will follow me for the rest of my life: toughness. To me, toughness is finding the inner strength to continue, even when you feel like quitting. In today’s society, you often see people giving up because the stakes are too high or because it’s difficult. Through this sport, I learned that if you really want something in life, you have to work for it. I learned this because I was sick of getting my butt kicked so I realized, “These kids are more talented and have more wrestling knowledge than I do, so I’m just going to outwork them.” I realized I was a wrestler in my last match ever, where despite an intense shin pain, blood and 6 whole minutes of I wrestling, I never quit giving it 100 percent.

If you have never wrestled a day in your life I highly encourage you to go out for the team next year. If you’re afraid or have any doubts about joining or sticking with the program, just go out for it. Trust me, it will change your life forever and make you a better person. It truly is the greatest and toughest sport not only for your body but also your mind.