Monday, November 26, 2012

Coach’s Last Words, ‘Just don’t get Pinned’

My son Forrest is that good character in a book. The character everyone loves and roots for. You can’t help but like him because of his goodness. It radiates from him. He’s not loud.  He’s humble, quiet and observant.  When he became smarter than me, in the sciences and math, I knew I had to let him go. This last fall he skipped a grade, left my home school classroom and started high school as the youngest freshman.

This was all new to him.  Such a big step in the quiet life he lived at home. To help Forrest come out of his shell, Mike (Forrest’s dad) and I thought it good for him to go out for a sport. Forrest had never played an organized sport except when he got his family together to play some backyard baseball.

Because of mine and Mike’s great love for wrestling, we suggested to Forrest that he go out for his high school team. I don’t think it was his first choice but he was willing to give it a try for his parents.  He trusted us. We (and he) knew going in he wasn't going to be as experienced and strong as many on the team. Some of the other boys had been wrestling since they were little kids. Still, he gave it his all. He worked hard; harder than he had ever physically worked before.  He became stronger and confident. He became part of a brotherhood as those on the team welcomed him in. Because of his lack of experience, he didn't make the varsity team but he wore his JR varsity place with dignity.

Last Monday was the team’s first match. Because the teams are small in our area, instead of one team to wrestle, sometimes there are more. Monday there were a total of three teams and they would all be considered varsity matches. Rarely are there enough guys for Jr. Varsity matches. Only the best come out for the teams.

In hopes to give Forrest the chance to wrestle in a match, his coach arranged for him to wrestle a varsity opponent from one of the other schools. Cocke County happens to have very strong wrestlers. They are solid and thick farm boys. As a mother, this worried me. My fear that Forrest would be up against one of these boys had come true.

The meet starts with the middle weights, then goes to the heavy weights and last are the light weights to wrestle. Forrest’s weight class is 120 lbs but he is lighter than this, much lighter than his opponent.  His match happens to be the very last match with this school. To top it all off, the score is 42 Rebels (us) and 36 Gamecocks (them). If Forrest’s opponent can pin him, their team will tie with ours and not lose. I’m sure Forrest’s opponent was counseled to destroy my boy.  When he stood up to Forrest, he was taller and stronger. You could tell he was experienced and an upper underclassman  But what he didn't know is that my boy had more heart. What he didn't know is that my boy came in with a mission too. He could not let his team down.

Forrest didn't win the match but what he did win was that as many pinning combinations as his opponent put him in, Forrest fought out. As hard as he squeezed my boy, Forrest fought back. Never once, did Forrest give up. He fought and fought and fought. When the crowd, his team, his coach, thought the match over, he didn't  He fought on. By the second period, the crowd, his team, the other team who were only watching and waiting for their time to wrestling, were cheering and chanting my son’s name. His coach was weeping. What was once just me and Mike turned into a gym full of support for one little underdog.

The underdog became the winner and the perfect ending to the story. Sometimes you don’t have to win the match. Sometimes you just have to do your best. Our team one by one point because of a boy, my boy; the boy who refused to be pinned.