When the going gets tough


We all have those moments when we commit to something and soon after, wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into. I have to think that this might have been what was going on in Coleman’s mind when he committed to being on his middle school’s wrestling team. He was excited, but after 2 weeks of intense workouts and practices every day after school, he confessed that he might want to quit.

“It’s really hard, and it hurts. My body is sore and I just don’t know if I want to keep doing it.” Poor Coleman looked exhausted.

How could I blame him? There’s no way I would ever subject myself to such a vicious sport. The workouts alone would be hard enough, but rolling around on a sweaty mat while getting my body intertwined and twisted up in knots with another human being, on top of wearing a body suit (or singlet) as I hear they’re called. Uh, no.

Coleman decided he was not ready to give up just yet as his first meet was the following week. I admired his determination, despite his aching body, but secretly would not have been at all disappointed had he given up this brutal sport. I shuddered at the thought of my baby getting thrown around.

Coleman’s first meet was similar to our experience at Judah’s first gymnastics meet in that we showed up knowing absolutely nothing about the sport. I watched the other kids meet their opponents with courage; some of them winning and some losing. I asked questions of the family sitting nearby who had watched an older son go through this experience already. I tried my best to understand which moves they got points for and what was illegal.

It was difficult to watch, as the mom nearby warned me. Almost as difficult, was sitting on the bleachers waiting, wondering why the meet was almost over and Coleman hadn’t wrestled yet. I made eye contact with him on the other side of the gym and questioned with my hand gestures if he would be wrestling at all. He shook his head no.

Hold up. I just sat here for two hours to watch my son not wrestle? I looked at Charlie and he went to talk to his friend who was helping  the team.

Charlie returned saying, “I guess since he didn’t make varsity, he’s not wrestling today. But my friend is going to see if he can wrestle in an exhibition match.”

At this point I wanted to see something, even though I just expressed how I hated the thought of my baby getting hurt. Two hours is too long to sit for nothing. Next thing I knew, Coleman was taking off his sweatshirt and putting on his headgear. He faced his opponent from his own team who was in his same weight class, and had wrestled the year before. I had my doubts.

The round began and Coleman came out strong tripping his opponent and taking him down. They went the full three rounds and I figured Coleman was holding his own, since he hadn’t been pinned, but I really couldn’t tell who was winning. The family next to me commented on Coleman’s strength and how well he was doing. The whistle blew and I still didn’t know who had won. The referee took both of the boys’ arms and raised up Coleman’s as the winner. We screamed and cheered as if he had won the world championship because it felt that important.

After the meet was over I found out that this win meant that Coleman had beat out the other boy for the spot on varsity. He couldn’t stop smiling and neither could I. He talked nonstop on the way home explaining all the ins and outs of wrestling and how he won. I listened proudly to the boy who one week before was considering quitting.

We have three weeks left in the season and I’m just praying he survives it with no injuries. But more than anything, I’m challenged by the way he tried something completely new to him that he knew nothing about and he stuck with it, especially when it got hard and he wanted to quit. That’s more than I can say for myself.