I have a dark confession to make:
For all the time I spend talking with our team about the “big picture”, about how what we do has an impact that transcends just wrestling, I sometimes feel like a fraud.
We talk all the time about “Building Champions on the mat and in life,” but our wrestlers, our coaches and I, personally, spend A LOT of time focusing on the “Building Champions on the mat” part of our philosophy.
A. LOT. OF. TIME.
I’m far from perfect.
The truth is I’m a really competitive person. I HATE losing. It’s not just wrestling – ping pong, cards, board games, you name it! – I’ll do everything in my power to beat my opponent within the rules. I just can’t stomach losing. (Which, by the way, has created some tense moments when Katie’s family and I break out Monopoly on holidays!)
As much as I know that the process is SO MUCH more important than the outcome, that point of view doesn’t come naturally for me. I have to constantly work at it and constantly remind myself to take a step back and appreciate the positive impact our program can have.
Just yesterday, I spent two hours taking notes on effective handfighting and set-ups while watching films from this year’s NCAA’s, another 45 minutes reading a new study on periodization training for wrestlers, and spent my evening at club practice helping our guys get better. All to give them an edge on the mat next winter.
I think it’s normal human nature to get caught up in the immediate tasks that surround us and sometimes forget the big picture. In some ways, I guess that struggling with this myself better prepares me to help our guys win that battle, since I know how difficult it can be.
I’m only human (despite what some of you may think!).
My latest wake up call
I guess that’s why when I get reminders of the kind of impact our program has had on those that have been a part of it, I have to pause and appreciate the moment. Here’s the thing, though, and this is the key, it’s not my moment to appreciate. It’s OUR moment to appreciate.
Everything that our program has accomplished is a result of the team – our wrestlers, our coaches, our alumni and our parents – working together to make amazing things happen. When we were younger we were recipients of this and we still are to this day, and now we get to help pay it forward to others year after year. That’s what’s so amazing about our program.
I’m so proud to be able to share a moment like that with you right now. I wrote to you a few weeks ago about Gerogie Guarnieri’s amazing senior season (see the email below if you haven’t already!). Well now that his high school wrestling career has come to a close, Georgie took some time to reflect on what he’s gotten from our program and (with his permission!) I’m so happy to share it with you.
Here are Georgie’s thoughts:
When some people I know ask me why I value and love the program so much, I think they tend to believe that I’m exaggerating when I tell them that it has changed my outlook on life and truly allowed me to believe that when I set my mind on something the only thing that can stand in my way is myself. I can’t think of a single other sport at the high school, or any high school I’m aware of for that matter, that is capable of educating its student-athletes on a set of values applicable to all facets of life, priming us for success. Perhaps one of the biggest things I took away this year was the idea of habits. The idea that if I control my habits, and habits control my success, then I control my success, isn’t something that I had every wrapped my head around up to that point.
In addition to what I learned about habits this year, throughout the four year varsity experience perhaps what I valued the most was the constant reminders that it is unacceptable to settle for mediocrity. When I was a freshman, those words probably didn’t stick with me the way they do now. But throughout the years, everything we spoke about became very clearly evident to me. In an academic sense, people didn’t seem to understand why I pushed myself so hard. Without even realizing it, my friends and peers were unintentionally pulling me towards mediocrity. If I were any other high schooler there’s a great chance I could have been caught in that trap. However, with the value that the wrestling program placed on excellence, accountability, and a relentless desire to succeed I was able to place myself in the position I am in today.
I also must mention the friends and family I feel like I’ve gained over the last 4 years. The bonds that I’ve formed since my freshman year are ones that I feel I will value for the rest of my life. I know I will be back to watch the practices and matches of the team in the future. In part, I’m really proud of the way my leadership developed this year. Knowing that I will have had an impact on this team, with many future section champions, is something that I value tremendously.
From a physical perspective, aside from growing in terms of my wrestling ability, wrestling taught me to value my body. I had to include this ridiculous photo to really capture what I’m trying to say here:
When I look back at this picture I think it’s insane to consider the fact that the rigor of the program completely shaped me physically without me even really knowing it at the time. Even now that my time wrestling is over, I will continue to live a “wrestling” lifestyle in terms of my health.
While I’ve told you about what wrestling has done for me mentally and physically, the final aspect I must mention is the level of self-confidence I feel. I’m well aware that life will continue to be unpredictable in every way possible, throwing obstacle after obstacle my way. After pushing myself to my limit each and everyday for the past four years, I don’t fear this type of adversity. I now see it as an opportunity. There is no growth without a challenge, and without growth a person is unable to elevate their character. The program has allowed me to embrace adversity, tackle my problems head on, rather than running from them, and as I continue my journey in life, I will continue my pursuit as a “champion in life.”
P.P.S. If you prefer to donate by VENMO instead of credit card, you can do so here. (Username: @Edgemont-Wrestling) We can also accept checks through the good old-fashioned US Mail. Just let me know if you need the address!