Dear wrestling,

You have given more than you will ever know.

I have found in you what it means to be successful in everything I do. You have shown me what hard work, perseverance, determination and so much more all can be. You have shown me that it doesn’t matter what school a kid is from, what race, ethnicity, gender they are or even what disability they have. Each is capable of being at the top of the podium on and off the mat.

You and I have had a long relationship together, a relationship that will never truly end. We met when I was in middle school. I was a scrawny, terrified, nervous, depressed wreck — picked on daily. Then we met. You took me in, showed me the way and molded me into the man I am today.

I began my first season with six straight wins. But you decided it was time to make me show some humility, and you gave me an injury that years later almost ended my senior season and even my career with you.

You have thrown me against varsity teams, state champs, state qualifiers and those who weigh a lot more than I do. All with the same words: “Go get em’, you can do it.”

You have given me coaches that I continue to thank today for all they have given me. They have each helped teach the lessons that you have.

“Get up, let’s go” resonates in everything that I do in life.

You have shown me that in life it doesn’t matter if I am down by seven points and on my back with 30-seconds left in the match. If I want something, I can go get it and it will be mine. If I just give up and get pinned, I will never achieve any of my dreams.

You have torn me apart, broken my bones, destroyed my muscles and joints, but I would do it all over again.

You have shown me that life doesn’t care if you are hurt, heartbroken or down, it will keep going, and you can either lay there and get pinned, or get up, grin in its face and say, “Is that all you've got?”

I learned from you that not every goal is obtainable, but that will never stop me from trying. You have shown me what it means to walk through life — on and off the mat.

I want to thank you for everything you have given me. You have shown me through blood, sweat and tears that at the end of the day, we’re all just working to improve.

You have shown me the world.

You have saved my life and given me the ability to instill confidence in my life and make people proud of me. To be able to walk through life with the lessons you have taught me is a gift few have.

I can never thank you enough for everything you have done for me. But I hope the tears I have on my face right now help sum it up.

Thank you, wrestling.