Wrestling is not the most glamorous sport in high school, but it builds long-term character traits. All sports require extensive training, conditioning and skill, but wrestling adds the discipline of “making weight,” which requires additional sacrifice and work. And wrestling requires persistence, too.
There are few sports that are as equal as wrestling. Currently, there are 14 weight classes from 103 pounds to 285 pounds. This makes young men of all heights and physical build equal on the mat. During a match, each wrestler is on his own and has to rely on his own initiative and drive to succeed.
The character traits that wrestling builds are exemplified by several examples listed below.
Think of the nervousness of facing another person on the mat. This builds confidence in one’s ability to perform under pressure. Think of losing a match only to have to wrestle again in a short time. This teaches one to accept temporary losses and to go on to new challenges. Think of the thrill of winning a match. This teaches one to go on again.
Think of this contact sport and the physical and mental exertion of three two-minute periods in which one has to go “all out” with no one else to rely on for help, other than one’s coaches who are shouting instructions from the corner of the mat. This teaches a young man self reliance and competiveness and the ability to defend himself.
I don’t know whether a wrestler stays with the sport because of family or peer pressure, or whether he stays with the sport because he really enjoys it. Whatever the reason, I hope that they agree that the sacrifice and hard work are worth the effort as they will reflect back on their experience many, many times in their life.
As they go forward beyond high school wrestling, the athletes should think back on their
experience and learn from it. They can see that when they get behind in points, it is more difficult to get back on top. This is true in life also. Think of how only the excellent end up placing in state completion; the very good end up in conference competition and the good wrestlers fall short of those accomplishments.
When they are in the job market, they have to beat out others that they do not know, and they have to be in the good to very good category, or the very good to excellent category, to provide for themselves and their families.
I am proud of all wrestlers at Kaneland High School, past, present and future, for they have developed or will develop into fine men. We are also proud of their coaches and their families for all of their sacrifices of time and effort.
I am especially proud of Monty Jahns and Jeremy Kenney. Their demeanor and professionalism is superior to most other coaches and programs. Our community is indebted to them, and we wish them the best in all that they do in life.