When a boy walks onto the mat, he stands alone. No one will run interference; no one will pass him the ball when he is under the net. No one will catch a high fly if he makes a bad pitch. He stands alone.
In other sports where individual scores are kept, the contest is determined in times, distance, and height. But, in wrestling, the score is kept on a boy's ability to overcome an opponent in a hand-to-hand contest, where at any second, at any time, it can mean a loss or a win. If an opponent gains an advantage, there will be no help, no substitutes; there will be no time out, and all can be lost in one second. Yes, the boy stands alone.
From the spectator's standpoint, attentions are focused on the two boys; not from 100 yards away, as in some sports, but in most contests, just a few feet away. Every move can be seen, every act detected. A failure in endurance, in technique, or in courage will be spotlighted.
There is no place on the wrestling team for the lazy, the showoff, or the half-hearted. When the whistle blows, a boy puts his ability, his determination and his courage on the line.
We who are close to the young men on our wrestling team have watched the full range of emotions from elation to heartbreak. We have seen coaches with tears running down their cheeks as they try to console a young man who has given his all.... yet lost.
Wrestling is a tough, hard sport, and like life, it is survival of the fittest. The young men who enter and stay with the team know this. They know that when the time comes and the whistle blows....