Thoughts of Doubt

June 7, 2012
I sat in the warm muggy tent with mosquitoes circling my sweaty body. My red, white, and blue wrestling shoes with the sky blue laces fit snug on my feet as both headphones screamed “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor. This is wrestling camp, different than any other camp. We didn’t get “lunch-time” or get to go hiking. We ate when we could, if we could. Some of us were already over weight, so eating wasn’t an option. Every morning we had technique drills lasting 3-4 hours, which consisted of take downs and new moves none of us have ever seen. Then, we had our team duals where the best wrestlers from each school went head to head in a match. We had team building, only it wasn’t the type of game we had in mind. We had to run with our partners on our back. This was their version of bonding.

On the last day after our technique, work-out, and drills, we had our team-building session. None of us knew it was going to be this hard. I had to carry a 135-pound man three miles. We were both already exhausted after our drills, and getting through this obstacle seemed impossible. When the time came, we lined up with our partners on our backs along with the other thousand dehydrated kids. The whistle blew and everyone sighed deeply as they took the first steps of the difficult journey. Sweat poured off our shirtless backs as if it was raining. We pushed without hesitation, without thought, the only thing going through my mind was, I will not lose. Muscles rippling with every bound, I made it through the first two miles without blinking, concentrating on something in the back of my mind, something that made me angry. Something that made me keep running, to keep pushing no matter what.

With a half a mile left until the finish line I was going to collapse until the thought popped into my head and hit me like a freight train. I wasn’t doing this for me, or for my exhausted partner who was limp on my back. I was doing it for something else. This hard work wasn’t about me. This camp wasn’t about me. It was to show him, the man who said I couldn’t, that I could. I could do it, I could prove him wrong, His harsh words speaking of failure and indiscipline. I could see him in my mind, yelling and screaming at me as if I was a dog who just tore up his shoe. I could overcome the disadvantages I was dealt. He said I couldn’t win when I started this impossible sport. He said that I was nothing, just the dirt under his shoe, maybe even less than that. I lost my first three matches and all he did was laugh his cynical, cold laugh and boast about how he was right. He always had a smirk when he told me how he knew that I wasn’t important to anyone. That laugh stuck in my head, and that’s all I thought about on the cold, hard mat. I trained and worked my butt off for weeks. I practiced everything from take downs to pinning combinations. I won nineteen matches straight, struggling to be the best. He hadn’t said a word, soaking in his own underestimation. He said I couldn’t complete the camp. He said I was a joke. I was now running three miles with a man on my back in the blistering heat to show him that I could, because he said I couldn’t.





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