When It Ends

I’ve competed as a wrestler for around seven years of my life. It feels like all of my life. The mats are familiar, they are my element. It’s been a pleasure to grace them. But as of now, I have to say goodbye to that stage of life. As a competitive wrestler, I don’t see any future. Too few colleges around here that have wrestling programs while offering top-notch academics at the same time. School comes first now.

However…

My last four year years as a wrestler, I never really had an opportunity to show what I’m made of. Adversity held me off the mats for quite a while. But I kept coming back. I never let it hold me. The thrill of the chase… that’s what I wanted to feel in the end.

Victory wasn’t defined by the points on the scoreboard for me at the end. It was about the act of wrestling, about the act of doing what I loved. That’s what mattered to me.

When I took second in the league, even with a torn ligament and wrestling opponents with a significant weight advantage over me, I qualified for the sectionals tournament. My elbow has gotten worse though and I decided that enough was enough. Besides, I intend to heal as soon as possible so I can work out again. We have a rising star among our ranks. From what I’ve seen in the practice room, I’m the only one who can push him. If my potential is not to be seen through my competitive career, it shall be seen through whatever coaching I can do.

I’ve always wanted to see my team as a powerhouse, as a big name. Maybe now, after my previous dream ended, I can begin another one. Maybe I can realize our team’s power.

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Combat Lust and Angst

Today we had our final league meet. We lost, but the team made a statement. It just came down to the other team having more guys than we did, so they filled in more weight classes to collect the forfeit points. Oh well. We definitely handed it to them though when we did have matches against the other team. It was awesome. The team has such young talent… they will all grow to insane heights, I’m excited for them, truly.

I can not dwell on their possibilities though.

My own possibilities are my priority.

Sitting on the side watching the team wrestle like that… it was so thrilling. But having to sit there stirred up some of my bloodthirst as well. My combat lust has shot through the roof. I give my elbow dirty looks now and then. It’s not to blame… I still can’t believe that I invested a ligament into a guy who ended up quitting on the team when three weeks were left in the season. That ass, he said that he wanted to focus on baseball. Screw you dude, I invested an elbow ligament into improving you as a wrestler, and this is how you repay me? Good job for focusing on proving yourself to be a dumbass. It’s not like you didn’t know what you were signing up for.

Anyway, I’ll keep this post brief, for I don’t want to pound on my elbow too much… it’s crazy how we use it for EVERYTHING we do. I needed to blow some steam off though. I tend to get heated the most just before bed because that’s when I lay down and it’s all quiet and my mind can carry me away to things that piss me off.

Now… I will dream of the day when I can find absolution through my art. I dream of the day when I can prowl the resilite again.

It Isn’t A Game Anymore

As I was being lifted up from the table to be shipped into the massive tunnel with a General Electric logo on the top, I had to suppress a giggle fit. The jerking and the noises the table made were weird and perhaps the oddity was only amplified by the technician adjusting me into an awkward position so my elbow could be imaged. And then the ear plugs. And that awkward gown with three holes, all of them for your arms (I had to ask how to put it on after I spent a few minutes trying to figure out if the third hole was for putting my head through or not). Those were funny too. My torso was in a fetal position while my legs were facing straight ahead with the knees bent. I glided into the cramped tube, wondering how anybody with greater girth could ever go in there. I was in.

The technician talked to me through the intercom and the imaging began. I felt like I was in a sci-fi movie. The noises that the entire contraption made were unlike anything I’ve heard before. I was still suppressing giggles for the first five minutes. Then my body realized how unnatural it was to be stuffed into a giant machine in a half-fetal position with deafening noises of ungodly frequencies flying about and I felt fear for a minute. It was easy to calm down… I just trusted the process. I made a game of treating all of the different frequencies, treating them like a music track, finding the different layers. I focused on the layers that I liked the best and yes, oddly enough, there were frequencies in the MRI that I actually liked listening to.

I started to fall asleep and occasionally when the technician asked how I was doing through the intercom, I replied that I was fine. I started twitching as I tried to keep my body in a restful state without falling completely asleep. Eventually, it was done and I undressed and bounced out, eagerly awaiting the results.

When they came, it wasn’t a game any more. This all happened yesterday.

The collateral ligament in my elbow is torn by about fifteen percent… not the worst, but the injury won’t recover by before the end of the season. And it’s the kind of injury that if I try to push, it will have future consequences. Just so you know what the collateral ligament does, think of your knees for a second. Now think of your knees being knock-kneed. There are ligaments in your elbow that support the joint that prevent “knock-elbows,” like how there are ligaments in your knees that prevent knock-knees. If I tear this ligament further, it will mean less support for my elbow and a harder future as an old person (my orthopedist, bless his heart, said something among the lines of, “It won’t be your friend anymore”).

This, however, is my last wrestling season. Senior year. This is it. This injury, as serious as it is… well… I never believed in an injured vessel keeping a willful soul down. This isn’t a game to me. It never was, but it definitely isn’t now. I have three weeks, and throughout these weeks, the main question will be: what is the price that I’m going to pay? Ever since sixth grade, I’ve always looked up to the walls of our mat room that have our past league champs, to be inspired by the legacy that our team has forged. I wanted to be a part of that. But I was barred away.

Freshman year, I was beaten for the varsity spot for a senior who once abandoned the team during a meet (he was never punished for such treason; the head coach at the time let him walk on the mat like nothing happened afterwards). Sophomore year, I had achilles tendinitis and was beaten by a freshman and once again beaten by a wrestler who didn’t work as hard as I did after I stepped onto the mat, rusty from having to work around my injury for a large portion of the season. I still remember that I could barely walk after the day I wrestled two challenge matches in a row to try and crack the line-up and my achilles tendinitis was aggravated even more. During a big tournament that same year, I unknowingly broke my left middle finger, and it later got infected the same morning that I was supposed to be with the team for NCS duals. I missed our historic win that day. Junior year, a rash of infections affected me and a handful of other wrestlers. After a month of staying off the mat, my first tournament was the league championships. I took third, after my humiliating defeat in my first match… I was out of shape and my potential couldn’t be realized at that time.

And senior year. Here it is. I still remember the one article that was written by the high school newspaper. I remember how the names of “key wrestlers” included mine. And I remember how I didn’t turn out to be so “key” after all. Of all the humiliations I’ve gone through, that one is the worst one to me. The fury that I get from thinking about that article is why I’m still here. It’s part of the reason that I have the will that I have right now. It is why this is not a game anymore.