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

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

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

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

Chapter Seven: Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die:

After what had happened with Jeremy, Greg became very popular at school. This made him feel special but he also really enjoyed the times when he didn’t feel like everyone expected him to act a certain way. He missed the days when he was just noticed by his friends and some others, but now everyone recognized him and they all looked to him like he was wearing a cape and super suit. However, Greg remembered what Coach…Principal Joseph had said about “Great power, great responsibility” Greg felt like now there was a lot of pressure on him, he couldn’t wait for wrestling practice that night because he needed an outlet to unwind and just do something he enjoyed! Greg wondered if Aiden dealt with similar issues at his school and if he felt the pressure of everyone looking at him, but Aiden always seemed to thrive under the pressure, unlike Greg.

That night at practice Coach Bob started off the practice with a brief speech. “This season we’ve had a lot of ups and downs as a team. We as coaches have made sure that you all get challenged a lot and we’ve wrestled some very good teams.” Greg thought to himself that only he and Aiden had yet to lose, they must’ve really wrestled some good teams because some of their other teammates were tough. “We want you all to understand that the goal of this sport isn’t short term success. This sport involves years of commitment and a lot of focused practice before you become who you want to be! But only you all can decide that! Do you want to be great? Do you want to be good? Do you want to just hang out with your friends? The choice is yours. But when I was asked this same question when I was your age my coach told me to think about what I want, and WHY I wanted it. I resolved myself to just want to be the best I could be! Remember boys, everything you need to succeed in life is here…” Coach Bob pointed to his head. “And here!” Coach Bob pointed to his heart. As he finished up the speech Coach Bob looked around the group, specifically to Aiden and Greg who were always side by side with each other. If it looked like they were dialed in than maybe most of the group picked up the lesson as well. Aiden smiled and nodded at Coach Bob to show his approval, but Greg looked like he was still thinking about what he had just talked about.

Greg spent that entire practice thinking about what he wants to be. He loved wrestling, and it was a lot of fun to see how much better he had become since he started but he didn’t know how good he wanted or even could become. While he and Aiden trained that practice Greg asked Aiden what he wanted to be. “Hey Aiden! I’m thinking about what your dad talked about. What do you want to be in wrestling? What did your dad mean by ‘elite’?” I don’t get it.” Aiden smiled and stopped wrestling for a second, “My dad always tells me that I can be as good as I want to be, but I need to have a North Star. A goal that motivates me every day to chase that down. My dad was a National Champion so I want to be a World Champion, I want to become the legendary one in our family! I know if I just work hard and keep enjoying the journey I’ll get there!” Greg couldn’t believe how driven his best friend was. His dad was a National Champ and Aiden is looking straight past that to want to be a World Champion. He is such a confident person. “Well it sounds like you’ll have a lot of attention on you when you win a world title! How will you deal with that?” Aiden laughed as he took Greg down for the drill. “I love it! I love when people are watching me and the pressure is on! My dad tells me that pressure from the inside will make you burst, but pressure from the outside makes you into a diamond!” Greg decided that he needed to pay more attention when Coach Bob talked, but then again, it’s not like Greg lived with him like Aiden did! They finished up that practice and as Coach Bob and Dad sat there talking Aiden looked at Greg and whispered to him “Greg, when I win my World Title, I’m gonna be sure to thank you! Then when you win yours, you can thank me!” Greg thought about whether he even wanted to be a world champion. Did he want to wrestle that long? Did he even have what it takes to become that good? So many questions bounced around his brain. He wasn’t even paying attention when Aiden said goodbye. Greg’s Dad took him by the hand and walked him out as the lights were turned off.

Greg must’ve looked as deep in thought as he was because they pulled into the house and Dad finally spoke up, “Wow, you must really be thinking about what Coach Bob said if you haven’t even as much as mumbled something about practice this whole ride!” Greg couldn’t help but smile a bit, he really was thinking about everything he could possibly do with this sport. He could be a state champ, a national champion, a world champ and maybe even an Olympic champ. But what if he set his sights on that and failed? What if he didn’t achieve any of that at all, what if he just never lived up to his goals. “Dad, what if I never achieve any of my goals? Aiden wants to be a world champion but if I set my goal on that and fall short, does that make me a failure?” Dad smiled and threw his arm around Greg as he got out of the car, “Greg, do you know who Bruce Lee is?” Greg smiled, “Of course, I read the book his daughter wrote, Be Water, My Friend he was amazing!” Dad looked him in disbelief, “Oh wow, I guess we have a lot to catch up on, anyway, he has a quote I want you to really take to heart, ‘Don’t fear failure… In great attempts it is glorious even to fail’ Do you get what he is trying to say?” Greg thought for a moment, “That it is better to fail trying something big than to just do nothing out of the fear you might fail?” Dad laughed, “You really are a little genius, yes that’s exactly what he’s saying!” Greg smirked a bit, “I’m no genius dad, I just work hard to be better every day.” That was something Coach Bob had taught Greg and Aiden, there’s no such thing as natural talent, or genius, just people who work hard at the right things. “Did you have a great day today, Greg?” Dad asked as they walked inside, “Yes I did, but I still need to think more about what I want to be.” Dad smiled, “Just never stop being yourself buddy, you’ll always win if you’re happy with who you are.” Greg laughed and ran upstairs to shower and get ready for bed.

As Greg laid in bed that night, he thought about all the great wrestlers Coach Bob had talked to him about, Buvaisar Saitiev a Russian who won 6 World titles and 3 Olympic Titles, Cael Sanderson, Penn State’s coach who won 4 NCAA titles while going undefeated and then an Olympic Title, and then there was Greg’s favorite wrestler, Jordan Burroughs. He won two NCAA Titles, then 6 World titles and an Olympic Title. Greg loved the story of Burroughs more than any other story because Coach Bob said he didn’t start out as some phenom. He started his freshman year and barely had a winning record, but he went on to achieve so much with the sport. Greg wondered if he had ever thought he’d be that great as a kid, or if he just really loved the sport and that happened because of it. He didn’t win a state title until senior year of high school, he won more World Titles than state titles! That was something Greg really thought was amazing, also means that New Jersey must be better than the whole world! But all this thinking didn’t help Greg get to a conclusion of what he wanted to be. But then, like the thought had just rocketed into Greg’s head from somewhere, he figured it out! In thinking about all these great wrestlers, he realized what he wanted most as a wrestler, to be someone else’s hero! Jordan didn’t train just to win world titles, he trained because he is inspiring the next generations too!

Greg went to bed that night and really couldn’t help but smile. He didn’t want to be a state champ, world champ, or Olympic champ. He wanted to be the wrestler that inspires some other little kid to chase their dreams, and know that this sport isn’t about chasing medals and titles, but it’s about the pursuit of happiness and something bigger than yourself!

Greg woke up the next day and did his full morning routine as he always had, but he felt a renewed energy. He had never been as explosive with his box jumps, never so powerful doing the pushups. He felt like he had a purpose, and something driving him beyond himself. Greg was excited because after school he has a private lesson with Aiden and Coach Bob and was excited to share his goals. Greg got ready for school and his Mom came downstairs as he was eating his breakfast. She could tell he was excited, “What’s got you all fired up this morning Greg?” Greg smiled as he swallowed his cereal, “I know what I want to be as a wrestler! Coach Bob asked us to think about what we want to be with the sport.” Mom smiled, “And what do you want to be Greg?” Greg beamed with pride as he said his aim, “I am going to be someone else’s hero, like Jordan Burroughs is mine!” Mom smiled, “That’s an amazing goal honey, I know that you’ll achieve it for sure, you’re already my hero!” Greg was beaming with pride as he walked out the door to get on the bus.

On the bus all he could think about was the athletes he’d inspire in his career, and how much fun it would be to see the little kids asking for autographs and pictures. He felt like screaming from the excitement and the motivation that some day some little kid would want to be like him. As he sat on the bus Greg could hear crying near his seat. This broke him out of his excitement into a mode a lot of his friends had started calling “IronGreg” after Greg had jokingly mentioned his superhero name at lunch. Greg had made it a habit to find those who are upset or being picked on and come to their aid. He even joined a club at school called “Lunch Buddies” where they sit with people who are sitting by themselves.

Greg looked around to see if anyone else noticed, but he looked two seats up and could see a little boy, maybe 6 years old was crying. Greg quickly jumped up into the seat before the bus driver would yell at him. “Hi, my name is Greg! Are you okay?” The little boy just stared at Greg with a blank face then covered his eyes. “It’s okay to cry! I cry sometimes too, what’s your name?” “Cody…” The little kid mumbled. “Okay Cody, can you tell me what’s up? Why are you sad?” Greg waited patiently, Coach Bob had told him and Aiden, when little kids cry after a match to not say much, just be there. “I don’t want to go to this school, I miss my old friends.” Greg realized what was going on, he had just moved here and it was his first day, he didn’t know anyone. “Oh, so this is your first day? I totally get being sad, but did you know that being sad and being excited aren’t very different?” Greg waited for Cody to seem shocked, “How?” Cody said as he tried to control his tears, “When we’re excited we get all worked up and fired up, when we’re sad we also get worked up but it shuts us down instead. Think of it like a shower, excited is hot water, and sad is cold water, does that make sense?” Cody looked confused at first, “I take baths.” Greg smiled, “Oh okay, well basically you control what temperature the water is, so we all like warm baths right? But sometimes a cold bath helps too, it’s just important to make sure the water is the perfect temperature!”

The bus was pulling into the school, but Greg had finally calmed Cody down. “You don’t know anyone here yet right? Want me to be your buddy for your first day?” Cody nodded, so when they walked off the bus Greg took Cody’s hand and walked him to Principal Josephs office. “Hey Principal Joseph, this is Cody, it’s his first day of school, I would like to be his First Day Buddy if that’s okay?” First Day Buddy was something Greg’s school did when a new student came during the year, so they had a friendly face to find at lunch, recess and during some classes. Greg went to Cody’s first grade class that day and sat in for a few hours, it was Greg’s old teacher Mrs. Banks so she was pretty fun about it. Cody got to introduce himself and Greg whooped and cheered so all the other first graders did too. By the end of the day when they got on the bus Cody had many new friends and he smiled at Greg as they sat down on the bus, Greg couldn’t hear cause of all the yelling but he could read Cody’s lips “You’re my hero!” Greg couldn’t help but smile.

When Greg got home Coach Bob was already there, after Greg had complained every day for about three months about getting his own wrestling room his parents finally caved and built a little shed in the back yard that had everything! A mat, pull up bars, even a TV for watching matches. As he and Aiden did all their drills to warm up like they always did Coach Bob could sense the excitement Greg was wrestling with. “You seem like a new man today Greg, what’s got you so amped up?” Greg couldn’t help but smile, “I know my answer to what you talked about at practice yesterday.” Coach Bob nodded intently, “Ahh, you know your WHY? What is it?” Greg looked at Aiden and Coach Bob, “My goal is to be someone else’s hero through my wrestling.” Coach Bob laughed, “Wow, that’s awesome, not even about a medal or title, I love it. Have you started working towards it already?” Greg told him the whole story about Cody and what he said at the end. “That’s amazing Greg! No doubt in my mind you’ll be the hero to a ton of little wrestlers one day, maybe one day you’ll even be a legend like Burroughs or Cael!” Greg liked the idea of that; The Legend of Greg, Greg the Legend, Legendary Greg.. He would work on the title another time, right now he had to continue practicing to chase his goal!

Published by Centurion Wrestling Club

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

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