When I was in fifth grade my older brother decided he wanted to start wrestling.
When I was in eighth grade I became a stat girl for my middle school wrestling team.
When I was a senior in high school I somehow convinced my youngest brother to wrestle (sorry mom).
My dad coached football for twelve years, but by the time my youngest brother graduates we'll have been involved in wrestling for thirteen years - and that doesn't even compare to how long others have been in the sport.
I have a lot to thank my older brother for: teaching me my sense of humor, giving me new shows to watch, and being one of my best friends. But I really have to thank him for kicking this whole thing off and giving me a community that I couldn't imagine not being a part of.
There weren't many chances for girls to wrestle where I grew up (you can sign this petition and help change that for the future), but I've still spent a better part of my life being involved with this sport in any way I can that because I just love to be around it.
We had our senior night in February and before going to that last home match, my friend and I got in the car and basically went "Well this is it." That was our last home match. That was the last time I had to work the score clock. Leaving that match felt like leaving my high school districts - it was just weird. I have to keep reminding myself that this season's far from being actually over.
I was back at my high school recently for a tournament and while I walked around with a friend we noticed just how many people were still around from when we were in high school - coaches, alumni, and family of kids who had graduated were everywhere. You can leave matches and tournaments, but you can't leave the sport or the community that comes from it.
So to my older brother, you may have been pretty annoying sometimes growing up but at least you did this. This was good. I have nothing to say but thank you.