For me personally though, at our JV district Tourney, we had a senior, special need kid who had only won, one match in his career. With disabilities, and lack of actual success, he surprised us all that he continued to turn out. So, after losing his first match and getting tossed hard, he is in a loser out match. To be honest, going into the night, I wasn't super excited to even be there. Wrestling on a Thursday night, before starting the real district toirnament, it seemed like almost a waste of time. We only brought 5 kids to the tournament and there was only 62 kids total at the tourney. Anyway, I say all this to tell you that after this match, I caught myself having to take a self check and realized, once again, that this sport is for EVERY kid...Not just those that have a shot at the dome!
So my kid shakes hands, and tells his opponent and the official (like he always does), to, " be careful, because I can only see out of one eye.". As soon as the match gets started he is blasted with a power double, and lands hard on the back of his head. As he rolls to his stomach, he has tears rolling down his eyes and blood pouring from his mouth. When the ref sees the blood and stops the match, I meet him near the trainer to help clean blood as he tells me, "I shouldn't have come tonight...I'm getting killed and I'm missing the chance to play the trumpet with the band at the varsity basketball game". Once he re-starts, he's on his back and nearly pinned...A couple times. Going to the second round, he is down 9-1 and we choose neutral, knowing that going g down would put him down for sure. As the whistle blows, I'm yelling to him from the corner to "just go for it! Get off a shot...Why not try?" So my kid shoots a double leg...Crooked and slow, but low and actually a decent shot. He gets the takedown and sure enough, on the way down, he reaches for the half. Low and behold, his opponent goes to his back. With his own eyes closed, squeezing for dear life, the officials hand slams the mat and my kid opens his eyes in disbelief. It happened... He won a match for the first time in two years, and really, the first "real" win he ever earned.
My JV kid shakes hands, runs to the coaches to shake hands and sprints over to me, crying and gives me the biggest hug I've had in a long time. He told me it was "one of the biggest highlights of his life". Z-Force (as he begs is to call him) made my night...And helped me to remember that every kid deserves my best as a coach. Regardless of how busy the next three weeks were going to be, regardless of how many wins would happen that night, I owe all of my wrestlers my very best. As much as Z-force experienced the time of his life...I, myself experienced something that night too. My guilt turned to simple joy, and I smiled. I couldn't stop smiling. In fact, as I waited for his parents to come pick him up, I had to wipe my own eyes a time or two.
I know this weekend, we will have many more ups and downs...There will be memories made that will last a lifetime...But as exciting as the state tournament will be.. I for one will never forget how that slow, awkward kid became a champion himself with one double leg-to half move. I honestly can't wait to call him up and give him his letter at our banquet as a senior that finished a career. Folks, this is what it's all about. Thanks for all that lasted through my long-winded rant. I hope you all have some similar stories as the year ends. Good luck to all.