The Pursuit

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For the longest time – I got it wrong…

I thought the ultimate achievement in wrestling was to win a State Championship…

It is not.

The ultimate achievement in wrestling is to prepare a young man for his life by having him become the best person he can be by acquiring the “Qualities of a Wrestler” while in pursuit of a state championship.

Acquiring these qualities is more important than winning a state championship.

They are what is needed to become happy and successful in life.

These qualities are acquired during the pursuit, and not in the winning.

It is in the pursuit that a kid transcends into a man.

It is in the pursuit that a kid is prepared for what life will bombard him with when he becomes a man.

It is in the pursuit that this sport is at its finest.

Winning a state championship doesn’t teach these things.

The pursuit does.

It is setting a goal that is more than you think you can ever achieve, and then achieving more than you thought you ever could.

It is in overcoming any and all obstacles that may be in your path in pursuit of that goal.

It is in the agony of learning how to “figure it out” on your own.

It is in making the necessary adjustments even after you “figured it out.”

The hard adjustments which will require supreme sacrifice that will only make a small difference. Which will happen to be the difference between winning or losing.

It is in working endlessly and seeing no results and still continuing to work because your will is stronger than everyone else’s doubt.

It is in learning that one man with belief is worth a thousand with only interest.

It is in failing miserably and very publicly in front of your peers and everyone who is important to you. It is in learning to master the concept of “Again” – the ability to muster up a little more when the world would understand if you quit.

It is in not achieving your desired goal after a very long hard season, one in which you bled to do so, and then making a personal decision to work even harder for another season with absolutely no guarantee of success.

It is in the knowing that you did everything that you could to achieve your goal and the understanding that sometimes it will be enough, and sometimes it won’t.

You can’t control that.

All you can control is to be as well prepared as you can.

It is in the understanding that when it magically is enough, you are humble because you know the feeling of being on the other side of the win.

And when it is not enough, you know to dig down and inspect and analyze your performance because there is something within the loss that you need to learn to help you achieve a greater goal in the future.

And you find it.

And you turn a weakness into a strength.

And you keep doing that until you have no more weaknesses.

This is the process of becoming a man.

Some wrestlers who went on to win a state championship are now jerks.

Many wrestlers who took 2nd, 3rd or never even placed have become great people.

So it is not winning the state championship that is the difference.

It is what you take away from this great sport that is the difference.

It is in the pursuit.

If one’s idea of achievement is to win a state championship, then logically there can be only one winner per weight class throughout the state.

There is not.

Because the real winners in this sport are the wrestlers, who acquire the traits which will be necessary for their success and happiness in life.

And those traits all can be found in the pursuit.

The Pursuit

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16 replies »

  1. Thank you!!!!!
    I shared your “Be Incapable of Discouragement” with my 17 year old son who is having a hard time with wrestling this season. He is doing the foolish thing of cutting 20# from his natural weight to get a spot in the lineup. It is taking it’s toll. Over the last 2 years our family has endured the setback of our other 17 year olds sports career being cut short due to concussions suffered from illegal slams. The twins are best friends and the best/worst partners for wrestling. The had dreams of being state champs together and wrestling in college together. Once injured the team including the coaches turned to uglyness as a coping mechanism of not having a full line-up and because there were no obvious outward injuries felt as though he was just being “WEAK” They turned to social media creating accounts of destroying my sons and when i spoke up, my whole family was ostricized for GOING AGAINST THE NORM. I try and be very positive with both the boys as the pursue “LIFE” both on and off the mat. After reading your blogs it has given me some hope.One of the funniest parts is that both Tyler and Tanner have been volunteering for the last 5 years with our youth program and thos kids and parents accept and love them for what they give back to the sport and the kids. The Journey is long but worth every moment you share giving back.


    • John, Thank You! Your words ring so true. As a mom of a son who came 28 seconds short of a state championship,i understand and agree with every word.. And all these years later i csn say that I couldn not be prouder of the young man my son has become..Again, thank you.


    • Thank you so much! My son and I are going to read this together tonight. He is 15 and feels like he can’t let anyone down. He doesn’t realize all the amazing qualities he has. I hope this shows him all of the pieces that make a great person.

      Liked by 1 person

    • My son was a somewhat reclusive junior high student who had a tendency to be a bit of a hypochondriac. He was doing okay in school and life, but not really thriving. Then his mom and I did something I generally don’t recommend….we pushed him to try wrestling. We had observed that he responded to a challenge, and it looked as though wresting might provide one. It changed his life! We watched this kid morph into a young man with a hard body and tough mind. He only competed three years, winning way more than he lost, but was never a champion.
      At least not on the mat. The payoffs, and there are many, have come elsewhere. He took up coaching youth wrestling and and actively follows the sport today. Wrestling is a bond he and I share, and this weekend, I’ll travel to his home so we can watch Penn State and Iowa compete….together. My son is a highly successful research scientist, father, husband and son. Wrestling is a wonderful character builder, and I highly recommend it to young men. It can transform their lives.

      Liked by 1 person

    • John,
      I had a coaching friend of mine come into my work on Friday night. His HS basketball team is 0-9 this year. His is struggling with doubt and so are his players. I took a moment and shared Be incapable of DISCOURAGEMENT. He got goose bumps. He copied your suit name and left feeling better. Thank you!!!!


  2. John,
    I was a state champ many years ago. I agree with you on many points. The biggest of is making great people out the experience. I failed to realize at the time, it was not my singular effort which made it possible. Enjoying the everyday accomplishments and bringing up my team would have been better spent. I remember after getting my hand raised and thinking. this is it?! This is what I spent hundreds if not a couple thousand hours preparing for? Although, it was a goal i’m proud of. your going about it in a much better and constructive way. Thanks for seeing a way to grow our kids into men.


    • For the longest time I thought wrestling was an individual sport. Until I learned if is not. It is a team sport. Your team is your family, your friends, your workout partners, and all of your supporters. Without any one a wrestlers goal can never be accomplished.


  3. Being a former Mr Universe bodybuilding champion that was an excellent read I have strength and condition HS and college wrestlers on the island body building like wrestling if you haven’t done it people do not know of the hard work the sweat the sacrifice the failures the fortitude to move on by your defeats to get stronger mind body and soul to continue that quest to a championship also build character in every day life that helps you get through good times and the worst times excellent article once again

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed your enthusiasm for our sport. My own take on the teen years is to have some balance and not to get over focused on any one thing. There is school (first), religion (second?), wrestling (third), peer relationships (fourth), and so on. When sports, in this case wrestling, starts taking up too much brain power, other aspects of maturation can suffer. We see this all the time in kids that get over focused on a sport and then neglect the other aspects of their maturation.
    The key is to come out as a well rounded man or woman who is self confidant and ready to do the hard work or long difficult tasks that get them to the next level for the rest of their lives. Coaches can do that. It is rare to see a coach that tells a young wrestler that he is spending too much time training and neglecting his family or schoolwork.
    In the movie ,“Karate Kid”, we heard a lot about “balance, Danielsan, balance”. Coaches need to stay focused on the final product they are working on, not just the wrestler.
    Great article and I loved it.
    Joe McFarland MD (not the Michigan coach)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing this . I also no Dave Weidkamp. How do you ask? He used to show up at 7 o’clock in the morning before high school to work with me on takedowns. What was in it for him ? Nothing more than helping a scrawny 90 pound freshman “in the pursuit ”


  6. Thank you for sharing this message. My 15 year old son did not start wrestling until his freshman year of high school; and I believe he really only agreed to wrestle because he was told that it could improve his play on the football field. The part of improving his play on the football field has proven accurate. He became a varsity starter on the defensive line of his high school team as a sophomore with no prior youth league experience. His wrestling accomplishments however, have eclipsed his impressive football achievements. In his first year of wrestling winning was not the goal, I repeat winning was not the goal. My son and myself were really just focused on building a better student athelete. Even though winning was not the goal; because of his effort and focus, he started to win often.
    2018 Freashman All American awarded by the NHSCA
    8th Place Freshman Division @220lbs at the 2018 NHSCA Nation Championships
    2019 County Champ @195lbs for AACO
    2019 MPSSAA Class 4A/3A East Regional Runner up
    2019 MPSSAA State Qualifier
    Because of the early success my son has achieved, a State Championship has become a realistic goal. Just after his final loss of this year State Tournament, he felt a little dissapointed he did not win it all. l reminded him he had already won; just qualfying for the State Championship Tournament as a sophomore with only two prior years of experience is a huge accoplishment. I will remind him of our goal when he first started wrestling, becoming a better student athelete.
    Thanks to your message we can rest assured that he is already a winner.
    “The ultimate achievement in wrestling is to prepare a young man for his life by having him become the best person he can be by acquiring the “Qualities of a Wrestler” while in pursuit of a state championship.”
    Proud Dad

    Liked by 1 person

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