Photo courtesy of Christopher Nance
USA Wrestling’s “Wrestler for Life” program has started accepting submissions for “The Story of the Week”. It can be about anything wrestling related, whether it’s a particular wrestling match you’ll never forget, or a life lesson that the sport taught you. If your story is chosen, it will be featured on TheMat.com, and winners will receive a USA Wrestling t-shirt.
Send your submissions to: Wrestlerforlife@usawrestling.org
This week's submission is by Christopher Nance.
I remember a conversation I had with my dad one evening, finishing up dinner. I said to my dad, “I think I want to go out for the wrestling team”. I remember him looking at me and said “Are you sure? That’s a tough sport bud. If you do something like that, you will finish what you start”. To be totally transparent with you, I had no reference of what wrestling was or the slightest clue on what kind of road it would take me down. All I knew is that I had a friend that did it, and he said “you should join”.
My parents gathered the money for me to join the wrestling team. I was a young 11-year-old boy with absolutely no self-confidence, no toughness, no… muscle. But I had heart.
The first practice I went to, I remember we were all huddled on a knee, and I was in the back. I was watching coach Salazar grin every time someone new entered the wrestling room, as if to say, “I wonder how long he will last”. There was something about the culture that separates winners and quitters. I knew I did not want to be a quitter.
My first year of wrestling, like many was a test of character. I did not win a single match; I wasn’t upset about that. I was just excited to finish the season!
I made the decision after that to stick with it and figure out how to excel at it. I ended up wrestling all the way through high school and achieved some incredible things.
Throughout that journey, I started to experience some of life’s toughest moments. Multiple close family members passing away due to alcoholism. Through the pain, I started to become anorexic, developing other addictions. I didn’t want to deal with reality.
The one foundation I could lean on was wrestling. It was a way of identity for myself and to earn the respect I longed for.
My coach and my dad played huge roles through my success in wrestling, and most of the memories I have aren’t so much of winning, (which I do have some awesome ones) they’re of looking at my dad and my coach with an intense expression of “you got this, champ”.
The sport of wrestling has challenged me in more ways than one.
It’s taught me principles society has lost, like how to win with humility, how to fail and grow from it, character, integrity, respect for people, mental toughness and focus. How to work and to become great at something. It taught me that it’s okay to fight for something righteous.
These are values that have taken an 11-year-old boy through addiction and totally bad mistakes to becoming a now 26-year-old man with an incredible wife, incredible family, attracting incredible opportunities that are allowing us to give back to the world of wrestling, ministries and charities. My wife and I have a vision to sow seeds of greatness into other families and help them become the best versions of themselves. Ultimately, helping the world become a better place.
Wrestling planted a seed in my heart that I can achieve anything I am willing to work for.
In closing, I had no idea what I was going to write about. However, I hope I was able to get my heart across and encourage you to never give up, and challenge you to fight for something incredible in your life.