"You're going to need surgery." Those five words are probably the most disheartening and frightening words that an athlete can hear. It means that your season is likely over and sometimes, your entire career too. This is the same scenario that I faced four weeks ago on August seventh when I underwent surgery to repair my labrum in my left shoulder. The tearing was extensive; nearly 360 degrees around and had been left untreated for well over a year. I had already needed to sit out of my freshman year of collegiate competition due to this injury, and now faced with a long eight month recovery time, I would be forced to sit out my sophomore season as well.
At first, this was an absolutely crushing and overwhelming perspective. Knowing that half of my collegiate had been taken away was infuriating. I felt like a disappointment to all my coaches, teammates, and myself for not being able to compete and deliver on the expectations we all had. After leaving a legacy in high school, I felt like I had turned into a pretty big bust. I've had a lot of down time to reflect on the potential outcome of these two years away from competing and I have made peace with those emotions during this time.
Sports transform our bodies into incredible precision machines capable of fantastic feats, but they also sharpen our minds to be tough and unafraid. Sometimes you are faced with a seemingly impassable wall and feel unsure whether or not you can break it down. This is the big life lesson of sports thought!
Ultimately, in life, you will be faced with forms of adversity; some more imposing than others. The outcome lies in the choice to either stand up and fight and break down each wall stone by stone, or to lay down and let it overcome and consume you. My wrestling career so far has taught me to never settle, never give up, and to always attack every challenge wholeheartedly.
This surgery is just one of many obstacles to overcome and even if I am unable to wrestle again, I can still say I faced it head-on, just like I was trained to. As Robert Schuller once said, "tough times don't last, tough people do."