Mugged in the Wrestling Room

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, January 29, 2014 0 comments

When most people think of faith, they think of belief in something that is unseen. When others think of faith, they automatically think of physical action; putting their faith to work. But I tell you what, there are times when practicing one’s faith requires a person to endure, allow, and turn the other cheek. It is this type of faith that some people might mistake as weakness or passivity. In the situations where this sort of faith is required, it is often the most difficult sort of faith to employ. Welcome to Downtown State University’s wrestling room.

There is a reason why I skipped any details about the first day of practice. It was uneventful and kind of boring. Don’t get me wrong, I woke up very sore this morning but at least I wasn’t banged up, bruised, or requiring stitches. Today is a different day. The morning session was not too different from yesterday. We did a routine circuit lift, where each person lifted weights at every station and every machine for one minute straight. The second session was the real deal. We were engaging in our first “live” practice day. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with that term, it simply means that we were going to end practice with full go, no holding back, all-out wrestling.

We were nearing the end of practice and coach Maximus pooled us all into groups of three people.

“Listen up, everybody. We are going to play a little game called ‘shark bait.’ This game is kind of like ‘king of the mat,’ but instead of the standing person coming out as soon as he is taken down, he will remain the active wrestler for a full ten minutes while the other two rotate as they wrestle against him for thirty second goes. All three people will go through this rotation. Good luck.”

Let me remind you at this point that I am just a freshman. Coach Maximus, for whatever reason, decided to place me with a senior and his student assistant coach. The seniors name is Grant Jordan. This guy was born and raised in the ghetto and he looked the part. Rugged dude, loved to lift weights with his shirt off, and did not treat you with respect unless you first earned it from him. Instead of replacing the coaches name entirely, I am going to give you a hint of what his true identity is. Today he is known as “the Hurricane.” At that time he had just completed his final year of collegiate wrestling and was a four time national qualifier. Needless to say, I am out of my league in this match-up. And unfortunately, because I lacked seniority, I was the last one in the three man rotation.

Hurricane and Grant had the first thirty second go. I observed them, but not a whole lot was happening; just a lot of standing around. There were several instances where they engaged on another in tie-ups, but they quickly broke out. The first thirty seconds was up…my turn. It was Hurricane versus myself. I am a highly offensive wrestler, so I immediately start setting up my first move. Once I spotted my opening, I attacked his legs, knowing that it probably would not end well. Hurricane blocked me, but nothing else happened. I regained my balance, stayed tied up with him, and finally realized why not a whole lot had happened in that first thirty seconds between Hurricane and Grant. After regaining my footing, Hurricane lowered his hips, shifted his weight, and launched me a good five feet off of the mat, across his body, in a perfect hip-toss. As demoralizing as it may sound, I was actually quite honored to have taken part in such a well-executed move…I just wish I were the one hitting the throw and not being thrown. My first thirty seconds live expired and Grant was back in. The next few times I had learned from my mistakes and did not get schooled quite as badly by Hurricane, but still pretty bad. When his ten minutes were up, Grant was in for his first ten.

Grant squared-off against me and I immediately engaged him as I had Hurricane. This time it was a little different. He and I were a little closer in skill-level, yet with Grant still possessing a clear advantage. Towards the end of the first thirty seconds, he hit a throw on me and took me down. So both Hurricane and Grant were throwers.

The next thirty seconds, I adjusted my strategy. Grant pulled a quick throw on me and took me down, but I immediately escaped and got back up and busy. He was a little more confident and I knew at that point I had him where I wanted him. He approached me again, preparing to set up another throw, but I popped his arms up as he reached for me and tackled his legs with all my strength. He fell backwards and I collected my first takedown in the practice room. That thirty seconds expired and I had ignited a fire in Grant. I watched as he squared off against Hurricane. He was clearly not happy, but dared not lose his temper. Our next couple of goes we were fairly evenly matched, with him still leading me in points. Close to the end of his ten minutes he started getting more aggressive.

I tied up with him, and we were clenched for two or three seconds when I noticed a shock come from the right side of my head. Grant’s elbow caught my right cheek bone and I was knocked slightly off balance. I was just enough off balance for Grant to capitalize and take me down. But he was not finished. While I was down he grinded his elbow into the back of my head to keep me down just long enough for the time to expire. From then until the end of Grant’s ten minutes, he was especially aggressive.

My turn was up. I knew that this was not going to be pretty; Grant and Hurricane taking turns hammering away on my already broken exhausted body. Me versus Hurricane for the first thirty seconds, it was not pretty but I survived. Once again, Grant stepped forward for his first go. At that point he hated me and it was payback time for the past ten minutes.

He came down aggressively in a strong tie-up, hammering the back of my head with his hand. I countered and squared up with him gripping him forehead-to-forehead.

“Come on,” he said in a muffled but intimidating voice, “show me what you got.”

I broke the tie-up and shot in at his legs to no avail. He crashed down on top of me with his hips to end our thirty seconds. I stood up to face Hurricane only to be shoved back down to the mat by Grant, from behind. Hurricane took full advantage and pounced on my back.

“Let’s go Ryan, this is for real now.” Said Hurricane.

Grant came back in after thirty, it was on. He went for a tie-up and threw a punch, but I saw it coming. I ducked and slipped behind him, but did not have the strength to take him down. He threw elbows wildly. I was getting fatigued.

Hurricane was back in. Instead of waiting for his onslaught, I shot for his near leg. I caught it and began to elevate it only to have him maneuver his way out. That round went much like the other one’s I had against him. Grant came back in and continued his rage. At this point, I am almost losing my cool. Nothing left and taking abuse I start contemplating some serious retaliation. I was tired of his cheap shots and I wanted it to end.

We tied-up again and he slid off balance. If I wanted a cleaner shot at his face with my fist I was not going to have one. Oh, how gratifying it would have felt to take this guy down with one well-placed hit, but the Lord spoke to me at that moment. “Turn the other cheek,” were the words that resounded in my mind. I could not take the cheap shot. Instead, I threw him into a headlock that he easily escaped from and my body collapsed under its own weight. Hurricanes turn.

He jumped in and noticed that I was not moving a whole lot down on bottom. He started kneeing me in the side of my ribs. I tried to get up and he grinded his forearm into the back of my head. I was stuck. Time was running short and I do not remember who finished me off. All I remember is coach Maximus blowing the whistle and letting us know that the time was up and to start cooling down by jogging around the mats. It took me two or three minutes to stand up. I was so disoriented that I could not tell which direction my teammates were running, nor could I tell where my exact location was in the room. You might say that I was toast. After our cool down, we returned to the locker room, got showered, dressed, and started to leave.

Before leaving, I went to get a sip of water from the water fountain because I had lost fifteen pounds during that practice and was dehydrated. I leaned over to get a sip of water from the fountain and as I was sipping I heard a gruff sounding voice calling out to me.

“Hey man.” It was Grant.

“What’s up?” Was my response.

“I just wanted to say I’m sorry for what happened back there.”

I was actually sort of astonished and touched. I did not expect nor require an apology. I had never been assaulted like that in a wrestling room before, but I knew that was what happens in a college wrestling room.

Before he could get anymore words out of his mouth to express his guilt, I interrupted. “Don’t worry about it bro. I mean, that’s what it’s all about, right?” He got an ironic smirk on his face and I knew at that point I had won his respect. He did not utter another word, he just clasped my hand and gave me a big hug. From that day forward Grant and I had a totally different relationship. Had it not been for Jesus, he and I would have been the worst of enemies for the duration of his senior year and he would have been robbed of a great honor at the end of the season.

Did you see that coming? Grant and Ryan seem to be buds now. But what is this honor that Grant would receive since he and Ryan were going to get along from that point forward? You will have to wait to find out because next time we are going back to class to see what Dr. Derkins has to say.