A Challenge

By Leslie Parks - Sunday, November 23, 2014

The screaming of coaches echoed off the walls.  Anxious parents with brows furrowed together in anxiety or others with smiles that spread across their face lined the stands ready to pounce and save their child during a match. I watched as this scrawny boy jumped up and down.  He had 72.2 and a C marked on his little arms with black permanent marker.  He rolled his head around, shaking out those arms, loosening up for the match coming up. His ribs almost poked out of his singlet. I looked over at his opponent.  The marks on his arm said 85.  Those marks told me his weight. This little 72 pounder was going to wrestle someone 13 pounds heavier than him. What was his mental game like? Was it just as strong or stronger than his opponent? Was he nervous at all? His body language didn't say so. He calmly stepped onto the mat, taking the green band and attached it to his ankle.  He stood, shook hands with his opponent and waited for the referee to signal the beginning of the match.  I scooted down to the edge of the mat, and pulled out my camera.  This was my safety, I knew how to behave behind the lens. I wasn't going to dig my nails into my palms as I watched this boy wrestle.  I wasn't going to run onto the mat if he was hurt and forfeit the match for him. I was going to support this kid. Why did he chose a sport that he was going to have a hard time finding opponents to wrestle? The next lowest weight bracket for his age group was 30 pounds heavier. This kid wasn't in his age bracket. Looking at the brackets, it had Job Parks, bye Round 1. Job Parks, bye Round 2. Job Parks, 1st Place.  There was no one.  He could take 1st place before the tournament started without even wrestling. He could only wrestle for exhibition, meaning he had to find his opponents from other age divisions and ask if they wanted to wrestle.  They were often meatier or taller and still heavier than him. I looked around, did we really fit in?  Was this our sport? I loved cheering for it high school but this sport for my boy, this boy that is so thin, am I ready for the challenge, the mental game?

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