Saturday, January 31, 2009

Positive reinforcement


I miss the rah-rah-sis-boom-bah posters that are placed up around High School athletic events. This one grabbed my attention today at an Antioch wrestling tournament. It reminds me of the good old days when we spent nearly every weekend at one of those (stinky) events while our son Kevin was a mightly wrestler. I look back on that time with such fondness that I actually burst into tears today while watching our coach interacting with his current wrestlers. For one thing, he was an absolute blessing to have as a coach. He never demeaned or screamed or did any of the many other damaging things that we saw going on in other teams. Instead, he uplifted and encouraged and taught and taught and taught. Because he handled them in that way, he made his wrestlers want to do anything and everything they could to win those understated pats on the back that meant the world to them. I will post more about him in another blog, but I want to talk a little more about how much those years of wrestling shaped my son into the (gulp) man he is today. The benefits go far beyond the obvious--physical strength, endurance, self-control. They make a package that in my opinion cannot be duplicated. Kevin went without food, sleep, fun, and missed many other activities while he was in training during wrestling season. While trying to cut weight (which, I must admit, was the WORST part of wrestling) he had to exercise incredible amounts of self control and self discipline. Wrestling season just happens to be taking place over the major holiday season, so we are talking about Thanksgiving, Christmas, New get the picture. But the biggest area of growth comes during the matches themselves. You have to keep trying when you feel like you are going to die any second. You have to work the hardest you have ever worked when your body is screaming at you to stop. It's truly amazing. Your mind and body have to been working in complete harmony, and you can be permanently damaged if you or someone else does something wrong. It's a brutal sport, but it's also a beautiful sport. There is just something about a young person who is willing to work that hard at that age. You cannot be successful at wrestling without a LOT of hard work. And I don't mean hard work when you feel like it. I mean hard work day in and day out. Hard work when you are sick, weak, tired...that is the only way you can get through that third period and come out victorious. And that brings me back to Kevin. He put his heart into that sport and it changed an already wonderful young man into a superb wrestler. But more importantly, it taught him a lesson in life that says "YOU CAN". If you want to do something really well, work towards it and YOU CAN. If you want to get a 4.0 your freshman year of college, work hard, make sacrifices, and YOU CAN. If you want to be a wonderful missionary, work hard, stay focused, and YOU CAN. I could go on and on....I am so grateful for that example and that lesson that I learned right along with my son. I just need to remind myself when times get tough, that I need to dig a little deeper, resist the wrong and embrace the right, and say over and over and over to myself, "If you want it bad enough.....YOU CAN."
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