Wrestling is one of the hardest sports around. It is both physically and mentally draining. It forces its athletes to become mentally tough. It instills life lessons into every one who gives their lives to this sport. Dan Gable, one of the greatest wrestlers and coaches of the modern day, once said, "Once you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy."
Wrestling has taught me what it means to never give up, both on and off the mat. On the mat, I have had plenty of matches where I was down by a large margin of points, with very little time on the clock, and I was on my back about to be pinned. It is during these moments that every fiber of one's being will scream to give up. Give in, and take the loss. A good wrestler will fight until the end, and never give up. Much like in life, it is easy to just take the loss. Give up and feel the pain, instead of fighting for what one wants.
In wrestling, discipline and dedication are key. Making weight can mean the difference between the team winning a meet, and losing. Being disciplined enough to maintain a weight, and not be tempted to binge on junk food, drugs, and booze instills a form of responsibility in every wrestler.
That discipline can be translated to everything in life. Making sure things are done correctly, and done in time is a part of everyday life. But, the dedication needed for wrestling survives on in many wrestlers years after they leave their shoes on the mat. I haven't competed in years, yet, I still stay at a constant weight of 142.5 because I have known nothing different for years.
Practices are the most grueling. It is a 3-hour long grind. Filled with monkey rolls, sprints, stairs, burpees, drilling. The first two weeks of every season are the weeks that are the most difficult, due to the coaches trying to weed out those who are not mentally tough enough to push themselves through the grind.
The wrestling mat is more than just a wrestling mat. It is a place where dreams are achieved and destroyed. Where even childhood best friends will fight for the glory of a win. Blood, sweat, and tears are left on every single one. It makes every wrestler begin to trust their instincts. Trust their body and muscle memory to lead them to victory. Once the whistle blows, nothing matters except the drive to win. The desire to win.