A Wrestler’s Journey: Life, Wrestling and the Pursuit of Happiness: Chapter Five

If you haven’t read the previous chapters you can read those below!

A Wrestler’s Journey: Life, Wrestling and the Pursuit of Happiness; Chapter One.

A Wrestler’s Journey: Life, Wrestling and the Pursuit of Happiness; Chapter Two

A Wrestler’s Journey: Life, Wrestling and the Pursuit of Happiness; Chapter Three

A Wrestler’s Journey: Life, Wrestling and the Pursuit of Happiness: Chapter Four

Chapter Five: Win the Day, By Loving the Process

A couple years ago Greg began his wrestling career. He had found an immediate passion for the sport and found the right coach who was able to foster a deeper love for the sport. He found a great balance between the hard work and being a little kid. His parents found a passion for supporting his career. He had begun to train seriously with Coach Bob and his closest friend Aiden. They had both taken massive leaps forward in wrestling but also every sport they played, they played together. They were the most committed athletes on their baseball and football teams, they both even tried swimming at their local swim club where they found success. The work ethic they learned and applied from wrestling had translated to every part of their life. Greg was about to start his third wrestling season. Last year he had a great year, although he only competed a handful of times, due to Coach Bob having a plan for Aiden and him to just train and focus on what he constantly called “the process” this was something is Mom and Dad had a hard time grasping. Greg loved competing but Coach Bob had a long conversation with all three of them.

“I want to shut Aiden and Greg down from competing much at all this year. I want to just focus on their technique and mindset. Competing really doesn’t have much of a benefit at their age, but their ability to focus, build their technique and build up their mindset will matter a ton in the long term. They need to fully commit themselves to being process oriented, not results oriented. But I need your absolute approval and support.” Greg was confused but he trusted Coach Bob. The last season had been a ton of fun, Greg only lost one match which was to Aiden in their end of season tourney. Dad was a little bit more upset about it but over the last year both families had gotten close and Dad trusted Coach Bob as well.

“If that is what you truly think is best for the boys than that’s fine, I can’t say I completely understand it but I support you. As you say I will ‘trust the process’” The only person in Greg’s family who didn’t really agree with it was his Uncle Dave. He constantly berated his Mom and Dad about how Greg needs to go compete and prove himself. Coach Bob would reassure them that results would be assured, just one year off from competition and the results would speak for themselves. A year had come and passed and now it was time for Greg and Aiden to see the fruits of their labor.

Greg had turned 9 years old about a week ago. His routine had stayed consistent over the last three years. He gets up at 5am and does a set of max pushups, max sit ups, and max air squats. He then goes down to the garage where he does a full circuit and workout and stretches. Coach Bob had maintained that strength and flexibility were keys to being a great athlete, and Greg had seen the difference. In his second baseball season the workouts had proven to be a game changer. Greg was able to hit the ball routinely to the fence.

Greg and Aiden were both able to do a lot of athletic feats by that point as well. Part of Greg’s routine had included box jumps but now he was able to single leg jump onto the box, this had made him very explosive. Greg was excited for his first team practice of the season. He walked into the familiar gym where he had practiced the previous two seasons but he felt very different this time. Greg felt like this season was going to be a great year but he was excited to finally compete again.

As he and Aiden laced up their shoes and grabbed their headgears they walked over to the mats and did what Coach Bob had told them to do every practice. They would warm up with clearing a collar tie by passing the elbow across and shooting to their partner’s leg. Then they would clear the attempt to collar time with what Coach Bob called “Wax on Wax Off” which Greg had recently learned that was a reference to these old movies called The Karate Kid. Greg preferred the new show Cobra Kai to the original movies, but his Mom and Dad swore the original movies are better.

After they finished their two drills on their feet they would hard drill for 2 minutes, drilling takedowns back and forth until the time ran out. This had become normal routine for their workouts but when they did it at the start of practices they did at Coach Bob’s house but when they started it at their first team practice they got some looks from people around the practice. The kids and parents alike didn’t seem to understand what they were doing. Aiden and Greg looked at each other and felt a little bit nervous to continue. They were doing what they were taught to, why were they getting funny looks?

“I don’t get it, all we’re doing is drilling, why does everyone seem so confused?” Greg asked to Aiden, Aiden strapped his headgear on and got ready to do the drill match, “I wouldn’t worry about it, my dad always says people don’t understand the process. Everything looks stupid until it works!” Greg laughed and admired Aiden’s confidence. “It’s just hard to focus because so many people are watching us.” This is where Aiden smirked as he moved in his stance, “Get used to it Greg, all of our hard work is going to draw a lot of attention. We’re going to have a lot of fun this season!”

Greg felt a tightness in his stomach, he felt like he might be sick thinking about the idea of everyone watching them. Neither one of them had competed in over a year, they took time to relax and focus but now all that pent up stress was coming to the forefront. Greg was able to relax a bit as they sat the wrestlers down for introduction. To Greg’s pleasant surprise Coach Bob was the one doing the talking, it seemed that they had a new head coach this year. Greg had finally started to like Coach Dan too! He could be tough but he laid off Greg a bit after his first year. Coach Bob began a pre practice speech.

“After many years with the South Hampton program Coach Dan has elected to take a step back, I am going to be the new head coach, and we have a new coach joining the team as well! Everyone say hello to Coach Joseph!” Greg couldn’t believe it, it was his school principal Mr. Joseph! “No way!” Greg exclaimed, Principal Joseph had been one of the few people early in Greg’s career to encourage him to just have fun and love the sport. He was an important reason why Greg found Coach Bob to be such a positive impact on him.

Greg was excited at the prospect of having both Coach Bob and now Coach Joseph together. Aiden smiled at Greg, “Coach Joseph is my dad’s best friend, they’re gonna be a lot of fun together!” Greg liked that idea, two coaches who seemed to enjoy the sport, had success and now want to encourage athletes to do the same! Coach Joseph introduced himself and began a brief speech.

“Hi everyone! Excited to be here, this is gonna be a great season for South Hampton and I am grateful to be a part of it! I want you all to know that I don’t care if you win or lose, I really only care about two things. Your effort and attitude. Give me all you’ve got to give, and have a great attitude while you do it and we’ll get along just fine! But above all, I want you to understand that the process is far more important than the results. Trust us coaches, trust your training and trust the process!” Greg laughed, he felt like he had heard “Trust the process” about a million times over the last year.

Coach Bob and his parents had been beating that drum almost daily. No matter what it was related to; Greg came home from school sick one day and didn’t want to take the medicine but his Mom kept telling him to “Trust the process” and take it! It had become almost impossible to go a day without hearing it from someone. But it reinforced the lesson day in and day out, that no matter what happens the work doesn’t end. “If you learn to love the process, and truly focus on the next step, the next point, the next rep, everything will take care of itself!” Coach Bob had really looked to reinforce that during the lessons Aiden and Greg did.

The year off from competition had clearly paid some dividends, after a few weeks of practice Greg could feel how well he was wrestling. He wasn’t scared to shoot on an opponent because he was confident in his ability to wrestle through the position and not seek to win the position but rather just flow. In addition to all the wrestling training they did Aiden and Greg had each been challenged to start reading and listening to books. Greg really enjoyed listening to books because he had a hard time focusing when it came to reading. He could listen to audiobooks and adjust the speed, it sounded funny at first but he liked how much of a challenge it was to listen to someone talk twice as fast!

There were a couple books that Coach Bob really harped on them to read and reread, those books were; Mindset by Carol Dweck, The Way of the Fight by George Saint Pierre, The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, and The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallway. These were all very challenging for Greg at first because they’re pretty advanced books but Coach Bob gave him notes, and homework to make reading it easier to understand. He said that all of these books would be essential to building what Carol Dweck called a “Growth Mindset” and that if he wanted to succeed in wrestling and life reading was as essential as working out.

“We work out our bodies because we were told that it’s how we get stronger, but understanding how our mind works helps us use our body to its fullest potential! The mind is the key that unlocks all doors Greg!” – Coach Bob, this was a note Coach Bob had taped inside the first book he ever gave Greg, which was Mindset. He said that book was essential to the rest of them making sense. Greg would wager that he probably read about twenty books during the year off from competition. He was determined to challenge himself to make the most of the year if he couldn’t compete with others, he’d compete with himself.

Everything Greg did became about the process of growth; every workout was a challenge, every meal a way to get stronger. Greg was always certain that he would finish anything he started, even making little games of things. When he’d go on runs with his Dad he would try and make sure that he ran a little bit faster each time. He had fun trying to beat his Dad down the driveway, he had gotten close a couple of times but still couldn’t make up for his height. Greg had learned to love all the work that went into training, there was nothing he did that felt like a drag, he had truly begun to love all of it!

Greg had become much more confident in himself thanks to the last year of training. He had become best friends with Aiden and was so excited every time they got to work together but the hard part for Greg was he wasn’t really fitting in at school. Because of his drive and motivation at everything he did he started getting a lot of attention from teachers and coaches. They loved him, they told him he was their favorite and this had started to turn other students away from him. They called him names, like “teacher’s pet” and “Lap dog” Aiden had suffered similar things at his school and was pretty upset about it as well.

They both just wanted to work hard and do their best, they didn’t want to be anyone’s favorites. “Kids don’t understand high level commitment boys, they see you working hard and they take it as a threat to them because they don’t believe in themselves like you do.” Coach Bob had told Aiden and Greg this during one of their “Mental Monday” Sessions, a day devoted to just talking about mindset and their lives. Coach Bob really listened to their problems and focused on how they could address them, just like their wrestling.

“But Coach Bob, I don’t get it, why do other kids see hard workers as a problem? Are we doing something wrong?” Greg asked as he fought back tears, “No buddy, it’s the way of the world now unfortunately! People fear what they don’t understand. Those who go through life with no plan, and no work ethic are like boats on a river without a paddle. They go where they’re taken, so when they see guys like you, who are rowing hard and taking control of their boat, they get jealous, scared, and realize they’re not in control. So they’d rather throw water in your boat than try and take control of their own!”

Coach Bob always used funny metaphors but the more Greg read the more he realized that that’s the easiest way to express lessons. Coach Bob sat the boys up, “Remember our lesson on responsibility boys? I am responsible for…” both boys in unison said “What I think, say and do!” Coach Bob continued, “I am not responsible for…” Both boys again finished the sentence “How someone responds to what I think, say and do”  Coach Bob smiled, “Remember boys, this life is yours, you control your destiny, you control your mindset, but you can’t control others. Be respectful, be kind, be YOU and always…” Both boys laughed as they finished his sentence again, “trust the process!”

Published by Centurion Wrestling Club

Former D1 Wrestler at Penn State University. Member of Four national championship winning teams.

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