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High School Wrestling: Dedication and Sacrifice
Definition of dedication and sacrifice
According Dictionary.com, committed can be defined as “absolutely committed to something, to an ideal, political cause, or personal goal.” Synonyms of devotion are commitment, loyalty, dedication, loyalty.
To be committed is to be fully committed to something. In other words, it means to commit oneself to a particular thought, ideal, purpose, or goal. For example, one may be committed to the ideal of a democratic society. Or, one may be devoted to charity and fundraising.
Sacrifice often goes hand in hand with devotion.
The Free Dictionary defines sacrifice as “the giving up of something valuable for the sake of someone of greater value.”
“The amount you are willing to sacrifice is directly proportional to your desire to succeed.” – Dan Gable
During my high school years, I was voted the most dedicated wrestler by my teammates. That period of struggle was actually quite heartbreaking for me. I had the ability to win the conference title but finished second. I won Sectionals and was favored to win Districts, but I lost my first match after being down 3-0 in the last period. I won the next game in overtime. I had the opportunity in a wrestle-back match to go on to qualify for state. But, I lost. In fact, I lost to the wrestler I had beaten in the division finals a week earlier. I was sad, angry and humiliated.
So why did my teammates vote me the most dedicated? I guess I don’t know for sure. I always had my weight under control and my trainer never had to worry about me gaining weight. I’ve never missed a workout as far as I can remember. I gave up the luxury of eating whatever I wanted. I sacrificed time that I could have spent with friends. I guess they recognized the commitment I gave to wrestling.
Successful athletes and other people from many walks of life have dedicated themselves to something they thought was important. Athletes, actors, singers, artists and writers often had to dedicate themselves to their craft and make sacrifices before reaching the pinnacle of success.
Devotion and Sacrifice to the struggle
Even six-time World and Olympic champion John Smith suffered rare losses on occasion. He lost in the NCAA finals in his sophomore year at Oklahoma State. The loss, of course, angered Smith.
According to TP Grant in an article titled Gods of War: John Smith“Determined to be the best, Smith devoted himself completely to the sport and pushed away anything not directly related to success on the mats. Friends, relationships and vacations were all on the sidelines as Smith strived to achieve a single Goal: to not never lose again.”
In a 1992 interview with Los Angeles Times Smith talked about making a commitment saying, “I make a commitment that no other wrestler makes. There are probably some wrestlers out there who think they’re making a commitment. But I really make a commitment.”
Smith goes on to say, “Anything that comes my way, I kind of eliminate it. I don’t have too many close friends. I don’t have too many close relationships. I just can’t afford to have them go where I want to go, do what I want to do. I’m really focusing on myself. I’m really understanding and finding a way how I can win, how I can beat everybody. I’ll do whatever it takes.”
I’m sure you know that Dan Gable was an incredibly successful American wrestler and trainer. His dedication to the sport is well known and much has been written about him.
Gable states, “The obvious goals were there – state champion, NCAA champion, Olympian. To get there I had to set a daily goal which was to push myself to exhaustion or, in other words, work as hard in practice that someone would have to get me off the mat.”
In an ESPN SportsCentury documentary, Gable states, “Finally, my senior year in college, I took a girl out and I looked at my watch when I got home. It was like 3:00 a.m. and I had a 7:00 run practice. and I didn’t feel good in that run workout. I was tired all day. That just cemented in my mind that it wasn’t going to work and something had to give.”
After a stellar high school and college career, Gable won a gold medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany without surrendering a single point.
Mark Ironside is another wrestler you may have heard of. He was a two-time state champion and a two-time NCAA champion. But Ironside didn’t become a champion without dedication and sacrifice.
According to the article Mark Ironside – Once in a Lifetime“For Mark, lonely hours of painful and uncomfortable sacrifice would soon give way to glory. For him, the focus of each day was not eating junk food, playing video games, or hanging out aimlessly with friends. It was 3:00 p.m. m two hours of practice most high school grapplers dread. Mark focused intensely on every minute of the warm-up, drill, and hard drills. He enjoyed the physical and mental challenge, and upon completion would always stay on to continue drilling after the others had shower or even home’.
When it appeared that wrestling was going to be cut from the Olympics, comedian and actor Jay Mohr shared several thoughts. Here’s part of what he had to say, “You’re trying to get your fifteen-year-old son to clean his room. You’re trying to do this. Now I want you to take that same kid and tell him he can only eat chicken breasts and spinach , and every now and then he falls into his gorge with some fruit, and gets up after dark and runs five miles before school, and then when he’s in school, he’ll stay in school and go to a wrestling room and grind it out. It’s an amazing sport. It is the purest sport. It’s the solo, solo sport. It is a monastic life, the life of a wrestler.
Other examples of dedication and sacrifice
Wrestlers, of course, aren’t the only people familiar with dedication and sacrifice.
Mary Lou Retton was the first American woman to win a gold medal in gymnastics and did so in 1984. In an interview Mary Lou was asked about her training schedule during that time and she replied, “Well, it was very difficult. Two years before the Olympics, our daily schedule was from 7:00 to 11:00 at the gym every morning.We would shower at the gym, go to school for a few hours, then go back to the gym from 5:00 in the afternoon until 9:00. 00 pm every day. So it was eight hours every day. It was work.”
“You give up your childhood. You miss high school dances and plays and events, and people say it’s awful. . . . I say it was a good trade. You miss something, but I think I gained more than I lost. ” – Mary Lou Retton
Most of you have heard of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the seven-time Mr. Bodybuilding Champion. Olympia and movie star. You may not know that Arnold served for a time in the Austrian army for conscription. Because of his dedication to bodybuilding, Arnold served seven days in a military prison in 1965 for going AWOL from the Austrian Army to enter and win a bodybuilding event called the Junior Mr. Europe.
Arnold would later come to America to pursue his dreams. For a time he was roommates with another bodybuilder and friend Franco Columbu. According to Franco, their grocery bills were huge. Columbu recalls, “Joe Weider paid us $80 a week each. We’d go to the market and three days later all the money was gone. We worked construction to make extra money.”
“Bodybuilding is a lot like any other sport. To be successful, you have to be 100% committed to your training, nutrition and mental approach.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Robbie Lawler was involved in mixed martial arts and the UFC before he became famous. However, he was dedicated to the sport.
“I started really young, that obviously helps. I’ve always had a belief in myself and the ability to always do what I believe in,” Lawler told FOX Sports. “Just being able to grind, day in and day out. You have to be a different person to not just do the workouts, but to not make money for months at a time. Live on someone’s couch if you have to before The sport was so big . You have a different mentality.”
If you want to learn about dedication and sacrifice, perhaps you should read about the soldiers who wintered at Valley Forge during the American Revolution.
Writes Daniel P. Murphy, “Washington’s army suffered in the winter of 1777-78, but it held on.”
He states, “The army had to find some kind of shelter. Washington made the construction of log cabins a top priority. The last of these were completed after Christmas. Drenched, smoky, and often floorless, they offered poor shelter from the Many men could not leave their huts because they had no clothes. The lack of food and water added to the misery. The staple of their meager diet was fire cake, made of flour and water paste cooked on hot stones.”
We all know that soldiers have made many sacrifices for their countries.
The bottom line
So am I saying you should give up friends, family and other interests? Am I saying that you should expect to endure great hardship if you want to be the best? Not necessarily. But, if you really want to be the best wrestler you can be, then you need to think about your priorities and what you really want.
John Smith and Dan Gable eventually married and had children. They just waited until they could make it a priority in their lives. And, many people in close relationships, including friends and marriages, have still become champions. It’s a matter of balance and priorities. So, I’m not saying you should sacrifice everything for wrestling.
For some, wrestling is just a fun and challenging extracurricular activity, and that’s okay. For some it is much more. As I write this article, summer is fast approaching. What will your summer include? Will you completely forget about wrestling this summer? It depends on you. How committed are you to wrestling? What are you willing to sacrifice?
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