Wrestlers must sacrifice a lot for their sport

… on the Ultimate Sacrifice Sport

What I’m about to share with you are factual events that only wrestlers will truly understand. It is the story of my personal sacrifices as a high school wrestler in Pennsylvania which is only a microcosm of what all committed matmen in my day experienced.

As a wrestler, I never thought about the “time sacrifice” I made during my four years as a high school student-athlete. In my day, the school year began after Labor Day and ended before Memorial Day. That equates to nine months. Our wrestling season started at the beginning of November and concluded at the end of March. That’s five months of the school year.

So, what’s the point?

Well, over a four-year period, my fellow wrestlers and I spent 20 months of training and competing. Thus, we had only 16 months (out of 36) those four years to relax and enjoy our high school experience.

But there were other personal sacrifices as well!

As every devoted wrestler of my day, to be in top condition, we had to watch our weight. It was the belief of that time that to be in the best physical condition possible a wrestler had to lose as much weight as possible. In the 60s, we didn’t know any better and coaches had no medical research on proper dieting. So, we utilized any and all dietary methods to make weight. Again, we didn’t know any better. It was the culture of wrestling back then. Today, this is no longer the case; everyone is now educated (coaches, parents, and wrestlers) on proper nutritional eating habits.

Back to the past.

It couldn’t have been a worse time of year to watch our weight; we also had to endure “holiday” sacrifices. While our fellow classmates celebrated those Thanksgiving meals, we had to eat lightly to maintain our weight. Then there was the Christmas Season. If you never wrestled, you would never know or even understand what we had to sacrifice and endure.

We had to practice (and, of course, watch our weight) between Christmas and New Year with a tournament in between, while other athletes and students were enjoying the festivities and the luscious food that is associated with that time of year.

In February, Valentine’s Day was another bummer when it came to calorie-ridden chocolate delights for us wrestlers. But we again endured.

If you haven’t noticed, I have yet to mention the grueling part of wrestling – competition – week in and week out. After six weeks of honing our wrestling skills and conditioning ourselves for a sport that requires physical training far beyond any other scholastic sport, we spent the next three and a half months competing.

The road to states was a four-week elimination process. Unlike today’s matmen, who could move to the next level if they placed high enough, we had to win every match (absolutely no losses) if we wanted to be crowned a state champion at Penn State’s Rec Hall.

Of all the scholastic sports of which many athletes compete in today, none will ever compare to the extreme physical conditioning that dedicated wrestlers display to succeed in the mat sport.

I challenge anyone to prove me wrong that wrestling is the most strenuous scholastic sport. Should you try to do so, you better do your homework, because I have for over 60 years.


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