6 Minutes Isn’t Enough Time to Kill a Dream


In the opening scene of ESPN’s “The Season – Hawkeye Iowa’s Men on the Mat,
Tom Brands is asked if he felt sorry for Josh Budke, a 5th year senior who had just lost his wrestle-off and his opportunity to wrestle for the year.

As to which Brands replied,

“To feel sorry for him because his dream is going down the drain is ludicrous.
I would like nothing more than to see Josh Budke on top of the heap at the end.
The thing is he has to earn it. 
It’s not that he deserves it.
He doesn’t deserve anything.
The only thing you deserve is what you earn.”

The scene continues in narrator Dylan McDermott’s resounding voice,

“3 Periods.
7 short minutes.
It hardly seems enough time to kill a dream.
It is.
Hero or heartbreak there is no in between.”

This sport can be cruel at times.

Believe me, I know.

Unfulfilled dreams haunt you.

And this sport has haunted many.

So, when Frankie Walz, a senior at ESM sent me a text the day after losing his wrestle off to ask if we could get together to talk, I knew there wasn’t anything I would be able to say that would console him.

It’s like sleeping comfortably in your bed, in the middle of a great dream and out of nowhere someone throws ice cold water on you and abruptly changes your state.

It’s just not a pleasant experience.

“I worked hard all year, I went to practice, tournaments, and camps.
I dedicated the whole last year to wrestling. And in just 6 minutes, I lost everything. I deserve to be wrestling.
What do I do now?” he asked.

“Frankie, the universe has a way of making things work out for the best,” I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

My attempt at drawing a life lesson from the situation fell on deaf ears, as he was still stunned and in a fog, he needed further guidance.

“Frankie, don’t lose what makes you special, I advised.

“Don’t lose your perspective.  Everyone who has been in your situation has gotten discouraged. Don’t. Don’t be like everyone else. Be you. Keep fighting. 
I don’t know why what happened, happened, but I do know it happened for a reason. Stay alert and that reason will appear.”

Still, I could see my advice was having zero effect on him. 

I mean it wasn’t that he didn’t want to hear it, it is just that it hurts when you have dedicated yourself to a goal and it gets taken away from you before you have a chance of fulfilling it.

In your mind, your dreams always get fulfilled.

Frankie left our meeting needing further guidance.

So he called on the big dog.

My brother Joe.

If Frankie was expecting sympathy from Joe he was gravely mistaken.

Joe can give advice colder than Terry Brands standing in an igloo.

“Why did this happen,” Frankie started off.

It happened because you lost. He scored more points than you,” Joe bluntly stated the obvious.

Frankie, your script will never be written with you being the favorite in wrestling or in life for that matter. That would be too easy. You will always be David going against Goliath in everything you do. In life and in wrestling.

“What do I do now?” Frankie repeated.

“Use your slingshot,” Joe said.

“Here’s how I see it. You have a chance to be part of a team that could possibly win the Section XI Dual meet Championship, and quite possibly be one of the best teams in New York State.  That’s pretty special. And one day when you look back at all of this it will be of great importance to you to have been part of that. You will treasure it for the rest of your life.

Here’s what I say you do.

Work hard. Stay sharp. Keep a good attitude, your opportunity will come.

I don’t know when it will come, where or how it will come, but I do know it will come.

And when it does you need to pounce on it. 

On Monday, I say you ask to speak with Coach Garöne after practice and here’s what you say to him, you say, 
“I will do whatever is best for the team. Just let me know what weight you want me to wrestle and I will wrestle there, whatever is best for the team, I will do.”

On Monday morning Frankie did just that.

Even without a weight class, he continued to work hard and keep a good attitude all while keeping an eye open for his opportunity.

Never did anyone think it would come so soon.

Just two weeks after losing his wrestle off, Frankie went to ESM’s opening dual meet,  knowing he wasn’t going wrestle at his weight, but was prepared to help his team if he was called on.

The Universe works in mysterious ways.

It just so happened that the opening of the wrestling season featured the #1 ranked team in Suffolk County and returning 2x Section XI dual meet champions, the Rocky Point Eagles verse the #2 ranked team, the ESM Sharks.

In a hotly contested match, ESM found themselves in a unique position up 34-33 going into the 285-pound match.

And wouldn’t you know it, Frankie got his opportunity as coach Garöne called on him to wrestle up a weight with the biggest win of the schools’ history on the line.

As Frankie walked into the circle, toed the line and shook hands his opponent cast a shadow on him, as he outweighed Frankie by over 80 pounds.

Giving up nearly a foot in height and over eighty pounds in weight, Frankie’s chances were as small as he physically looked in comparison to his ranked opponent. 

Frankie looked like a David verse a Goliath.

During the match, one could see the off-season work Frankie put in paid immediate dividends as he was stronger and more agile than he ever was before.

“Your opportunity will come, and when it does you pounce on it.”

And pounce on it, he did.

Miraculously, down 3-1 in the score with less than fifteen seconds left to go in the match and with the biggest win of the school’s history quickly fading, Frankie seized his opportunity.

He saw an opening and went for it.

With barely a few seconds left on the clock, Frankie became manic, took down his opponent and registered the pin to secure the biggest dual meet victory in ESM’s school history. 

“The thing is he has to earn it. 
It’s not that he deserves it.
He doesn’t deserve anything.
The only thing you deserve is what you earn.”


6 Minutes.

Enough time to earn your dream.

And the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the dual meet tournament.

“You will always be David,” must have found its way into Frankie’s subconscious mind.

All of JohnA Passaro’s published works are available at:



1 reply »

  1. John, You just made my day! Beautiful writing, full of inspiration! Time to go earn my win.

    See ya on the mat!!

    ~Maiva (303) 908-9345 Mobile

    “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible!” ~Walt Disney

    Liked by 1 person

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