By: Gabriel Schauf
It’s the third period, thirty seconds left. The score is 4-4, and the next takedown will win the match. In the middle of a dark gymnasium, there is a spotlight on you and your opponent. They are staying aggressive, despite the length of the match that you both had just wrestled. You fake to the left leg and grab the right, catching the opponent off guard. The setup works, and the referee awards you your two points. The crowd and your teammates cheering is deafening in your ears, and your feeling is indescribable.
Wrestling is a hard sport. It is an incredibly difficult sport to stick with, for a number of reasons. Making weight affects the way you eat, drink, and think about your body, which isn’t for everyone. Daily practices for 2+ hours are often grueling, and the team number dwindles throughout the season. It really is a rough sport, which is why it forges such strong bonds between teammates. “It is my first year of wrestling, and I have to say I wish I had started earlier. This is an incredibly difficult yet incredibly fun sport,” said senior Owen Gardner.
Speaking from experience, wrestling truly provides a sense of community. “Anytime I hang out with my friends from wrestling, it’s always a different vibe from what I get with friends from other activities,” said senior Cameron Burt, one of the captains of the wrestling team here at Atholton. “I feel a lot more comfortable around them, because of the stuff we went through together.” That sense of community is really important, especially to someone like me when I was a freshman. Arriving at high school with a few friends, I didn’t really feel like I fit in anywhere. But when I decided to join wrestling, I was immediately welcomed with open arms. No one was as judgmental as I had expected, and the culture was incredibly supportive.
Wrestling also helps build confidence. There is a saying about wrestling: “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy,” coined by Dan Gable, a legendary wrestler. For many, it rings true because of how difficult it is. When you have that sense of accomplishment that you got through something that was difficult, that builds a lot of confidence. In your head you can think “I’ve done things harder than this, I can do this!” and that can come from wrestling.
It is really incredible how much of a difference wrestling can make, both physically and mentally. “Coming from someone who has wrestled since his freshman year of high school, wrestling has absolutely changed my life. The community I felt in the greater combat sport environment is and was second to none,” said Sidney Billups, 2x State champion and Atholton’s wrestling head coach. “Some of my fondest memories come from being on the mat.”