With the season officially behind us, it gives me both a chance to look back, as well as look to the future. First, if you thought the season ended over 2 months ago, you quite wrong. The spring season is where you really improve, which is why you see some of the best kids in the state competing. We had a fair amount come to practices, including some of the Jr High wrestlers after their season ended. Edson Romero was able to represent both Northridge High and Team Utah while wrestling in Iowa at Folkstyle Nationals. Great tournament against some of the best in the country! Both Edson and Bryce Walker represented Excalibur Wrestling Club at Freestyle State just this past week. Edson wrestled very tough in a very loaded bracket, and Bryce became the first State Placer for Excalibur with a 3rd place finish in the 182 lb Cadet bracket.
Next year’s plan is to get everyone who is not playing spring sports (and even some who are) to compete in the spring. Practices are fewer, shorter, but you learn much more. There is a quote out there that says “Off-season wrestlers make in-season champions.” Every year I have wrestlers who come to the first day of practice expecting to have a smooth transition from where they ended last year and where they are at that moment. They quickly learn that they are far behind where they ended the season before. Is it any wonder? What did they do to get better? Bury their shoes in their closet? Watch TV? Play video games? No, they did more than that. They watched a couple matches online! We can’t expect to get better in anything in life if we don’t practice, learn, and compete. Of course that’s not easy! Of course we would rather go home and sit on the couch after a long high school season. That’s only natural! That is exactly why average people remain average. They find their comfort zone and they stay there.
How neat would it be to have an entire team that wanted nothing more than to improve? I mean really improve. Not just when the season is about to begin and I ask what goals you have, and you tell me you want to qualify for or take state. That would be great. Sadly, that is not the reality for the effort and attitude most put in. I have coached state finalist. I have wrestled with state champions. I have been part of the state team runner up. There is a difference between saying you want it, and actually wanting it. Actually wanting it manifests itself very different. Practice is different. It is harder than any tournament you could wrestle in. You are wrestling the best wrestlers every chance you can. You are there as soon as you can, and you are wrestling or conditioning after practice. It may only be a 2 hour practice, but what you get in that time can be very different than what someone else gets from it.
How neat would it be if we had no excuses? People tell me how they need time for family, or friends, or homework. They don’t have money, time, a ride, or whatever else it is to be able to wrestle in the spring, go to camps in the summer, or wrestle in the fall. While I constantly field these “issues”, I have others who are asking me for ways to raise money, getting jobs that work around their schedules, all the while going to practices and walking to morning workouts while living miles away. If you really want something, you will find a way to make it happen. This world if filled with successful people who had every reason to give up and quit. Someone is going to be successful, why not you?
I am beyond excited for the future of this program. We have great help coming to the coaching staff this coming year, both full time and part time. We have young wrestlers excited to compete and get better. We have many kids who are going to multiple wrestling camps this summer. We have kids who are going around with a lawn mower asking to mow lawns in the neighborhood in order to get money for camps. Excalibur Wrestling Club is growing with all ages. We have great tournaments planned for this coming season for all age groups. Great parent support! Structured morning workouts designed for wrestlers. And many are getting the big tournament bug, looking for big tournaments to be able to wrestle at, helping expose them to better competition and raising their expectations for themselves. We have some amazing help planned for next year from some NCAA Div 1 All-Americans to help with practice and teach us what has helped them to be successful. Both JV and Varsity will have chances to represent Northridge at their own tournaments next year.
I am excited about what is coming! Like I always say, we are always looking for those who are willing and ready to take this team and make it their own. That doesn’t come by being a senior. That doesn’t come from being part of the program for however many years. That comes from how you practice, fundraise, and how you represent yourself and your team. It comes from showing up! It comes from how you treat your school. It comes from how you treat your teammates, whoever it may be. It comes from how you are in the classroom. We have some great people coming up, with some great people coming back.
I am so grateful for the chance that I have to be part of this program and in the lives of so many amazing people. I am excited for my own son to be able to learn from such great young men and women. I have learned so much about what it means to work hard, be humble, overcome, build other up, rejoice in other’s success, be grateful for what they have, and what it means to FINISH. I am grateful for the feedback from athletes, managers, parents, administrators, and especially my wife. The amount that she has to put up with while allowing me to work with these great people is unreal. She becomes a single mom every winter. I could never do this without her!
Now that freestyle is over, what are you doing to continue to improve? “The trophy is earned in the hours that no one is watching.” GO GET IT!!