How do I know if my child is old enough to wrestle?
One thing that I see parents do quite frequently is wonder how soon that they can get their kids signed up to compete in a sport. One of the biggest questions that a parent should ask themselves when they are looking to get their child enrolled in a sport is “Why?”. “Why am I signing up my child in this sport? What is the end result that I want to see from them participating in this sport?” If the answer is “Because I want them to compete and be a champion.”, then you are probably not doing it for the right reason, and you must remember that you don’t have to actually do the work involved with becoming a champion. It is less physically challenging to drive your son 5 miles to practice than it is to actually practice. If your response is more like, “They seemed interested in trying it out.”, or “They have some friends that do it, and they wanted to give it a try.”, or “They asked me what I did as a kid, and they want to try it out too.”, or “There are some good kids in that group, and I would like my kids to be around some positive influences and learn some positive lessons.”, then I think it is a good idea to get your child involved in that sport. So step number 1, remember it’s not about YOU, it’s about THEM!
Now that you have figured out that you want something beneficial for your child, figure out how much they are going to be able to pick up at this age, and then find a good team for them to be a part of. You will want your child to be with kids around their same age and skill level, and there is a good reason for this. If your child is 3 and you throw them in with a bunch of 5 year olds, they will have a tough time. They aren’t as developed as 5 year olds meaning they aren’t as strong, they don’t have the attention span of the older kids, and they will not seem to progress as much as the other kids in the group. Even the public education system has this one figured out, so don’t try to break the mold by throwing your child to the wolves from the get go. As they have a better understanding of the sport and how to train, then it is good for them to start going with kids who are a little older because it will help to speed up their development, but everything in good time.
So you haven’t answered my question. How young is too young?
From my experience, I have worked with kids as young as 3. I will tell you that 3 and 4 year olds attention spans is not something to write home about. You should make sure that the practices are short and fun. 5 and 6 year olds do a much better job of paying attention as long as the group doesn’t get too big. The bigger the group, the harder it is to keep the children focusing on what the coach is covering. By 7 or 8 kids can learn quite a bit of technique. One of the most useful things that you can do for the young kids, or really any age for that matter, is to get them individual coaching. When your child is able to have private lessons, they will get much more attention, and the coach will be better able to assess what your child needs to work on. During a normal practice, it is challenging for a coach to meet every individual’s specific needs. They are trying to do what is best for the group. By investing in private or small group sessions, your child will have more specific things to work on during the group practices that they are involved in.
Children are very resilient, adaptable, and intelligent. The sooner you start teaching a child something, the more time for mastery that they will have as they grow up. Let your child try new things and focus on overall development. Remember it’s not about all the trophies that your child can amass while they are young but more importantly, the skills and attributes that they will develop along the way.
How often do you set goals, or set out to do something great, only to quickly lose momentum after a couple of days and give up? I know that I am guilty of that more than I would actually like to admit. However, I have noticed that when I am successful at developing a new skill or following through on a new goal it all comes down to a routine that I plan and stick with. There are a few parts of the routine that I have found that are most important when I am trying something new that I want to learn or do.
The first thing is to have a set time or place or both to work on the activity that you are trying to master. The routine of wrestling was easy because I knew that every day at the same time that I would have to be at the same place to get some work done. This made it more fool proof for me because all I had to do was to show up and everything after that would be set in motion for me. If you want to exercise more, set a certain time to go to the gym. If you want to read a book or learn something online, go to the library where it’s quiet. If you want to build a relationship with your kids, go watch their games and events.
The second thing that really helps me with my routines is to have other people involved. Make sure that someone else is depending on you to show up at a certain time and certain place. By doing this you make it harder on yourself to quit because you know that someone else is counting on you to show up. You would think that you should be the last person that you would give up on or break commitments with, however, you are generally the first one to break commitments with, and what you need gets put on the back burner. If you have a partner waiting for you at the gym at 6:30 am that needs you to spot them on their heavy lifts, you are going to show up because they are counting on you.
The last thing is to not give up. Life is hard, crazy, and things don’t always go as they are planned, but that is no excuse to give up. Even if you are setting a specific time and place for yourself to work on your goals everyday, and you have recruited a partner to be there with you, there still might be days that you unfortunately miss your scheduled appointment or practice. Sometimes when this happens, people tend to have an all other nothing mindset and are ready to give up. Don’t give up. Shake off the bad day and try to get back at doing the thing that you want to do. So your routine didn’t work out for one day, so what?! You’ve lived your whole life without the skill that you are trying to develop anyway so if you miss one day, it won’t kill you. Recommit to your progress and follow through on your routine the next day.
These three steps have helped me out so often throughout my life that I can’t express enough the importance of doing them daily. I hope these tips help you. Good luck!
Yesterday I had two interesting life experiences that I would like to share with you, and I feel they are both related to each other.
In class we were learning a new concept and talking about code and software and applications. The instructor made the comment that all software is broken. By broken he meant that the software still has bugs, but it might be held together well enough to continue to run and do the function that the user would like it to do. This was new to me. What is also new to me is how he talks about screwing up a piece of code and breaking your site. In the digital world, I have a hard time conceptualizing something as being broken compared to something in the physical world being broken. When a glass is broken, it shatters and the shards will spread throughout the vicinity where the impact occurred. When code is broken, it just doesn’t work.
Later at the lunch break, I went to lunch with Jeremy, our lead instructor, and we decided to go try a mexican restaurant that I had found on Yelp. It was only about a block away, and the way that the maps were telling me to go seemed much longer than an alternate route that we could take. We opted for the alternate route, and it was eye opening to say the least. The building that I am taking the development course in is directly across the street from a homeless shelter. If you stand in front of the building, you can look across the street and see many homeless people sitting or lying around on the sidewalk or ground, while many of them roam in and out of the mass of people. Our route took us directly through the group of homeless people as well as around the block which was full of even more homeless people. The walk around the block was an education. I saw many grown men and women who were dirty, unkempt, and distant. I would venture to say that the majority of the people outside of the shelter have some type of substance abuse problem or mental illness, however, I don’t think they all do. The children that were living on the streets with their parents, who were also unkempt, didn’t seem to know the depth of their situation. Kids are kids. They are innocent. My heart went out to these young children as I thought about my own kids at home who were clean, clothed, and well fed. I can only imagine the nights that those poor innocent souls have to spend with empty stomachs and nowhere to call home.
As we continued our walk down the street, I noticed the smell that accompanied the street. The only experience that I can compare it to is being at a livestock show. Growing up I frequently accompanied my parents to the reining horse shows that my dad would show in. Some times there were just horses at the event, but if the show happened to coincide with a fair or livestock show, there would be a variety of animals on the premises grouped within their own kind. The smell would be a strong one of urine, feces, and sweat. It was an unpleasant smell, but as the days would go on, my senses would adjust and I would no longer notice the strong odor that came from all of the animals. The street I was walking on yesterday had that same smell, and it made me sad as I thought about how the people what were surviving on those streets were living about as close to an animalistic state as possible for being in Salt Lake City. The even sadder fact is that the world is an extremely large place with billions of people, and there are other human souls who live in even more dire conditions than the people I experienced yesterday.
So how does broken code and homeless people relate? The answer is that something is broken in their process. Somewhere those people who are struggling so greatly have a part of their system that is broken, and as a result, there life is in shambles. I can’t say that they’re not all happy. Perhaps there are a very small few who choose to live that lifestyle as well as enjoy it, but most of them don’t. As I reflect, the question for me becomes “What is broken in my life?” Just like software, everyone has code that is broken in their lives. Not everything works perfectly without bugs. The key to success is finding these bugs or hindrances and cleaning them up so that they stop preventing us from getting what we really want. One of my favorite quotes is this, “If there was no need for change, you would already have everything that you want.” In order to be great, it is imperative to reflect on your system and work your butt off to fix the bugs. You might be able to function, but if your system is broken, you won’t get the very best results that you could have if you changed a few things. I know that my life’s not perfect. Some of my systems are terrible, but I am trying to change that. I am working to look deeper into my life to see what is broken and how I can fix it. I owe it not only to myself, but to everyone else around me. Why should I make anybody interact with Justin1.0, whereas if I were just to make a little more effort, my family and friends could interact with Justin2.0 or 3.0?
Work on your systems, work on your habits. You don’t have to hit home runs everyday. Just do all that you can to get on base, and in the end, if you can do that, you will win the game.
If you apply a principle consistently, you will benefit from that principle. I don’t know of any other way to put it. Let me tell you what I am specifically talking about. These past couple of years have been tough for me. Ever since my competitive wrestling career has ended, I have felt a void inside of me that needs to be filled. Many times I have felt frustrated, angry, full of rage, and depressed about situations and circumstances, even though when I take a step back and look at all that I have in my life, I have no real reason to be upset. Regardless of the reasons, I have felt a gamut of emotions that have left me empty and confused. For years wrestling was my addiction. I got a high from the adrenaline rush of competition, the recognition for victories, the endorphin rush as my ego would inflate after having success over and over again. Then when my drug was gone, I was down.
A short time ago, I decided that I was going to change my life. I was not satisfied with just going through life without really living, being awake but really being in a type of coherent coma, I wasn’t happy. I didn’t like being angry at my wife and kids as if it were some how there fault that I was no longer doing what I loved to do. I was angry at my body for the pain that it felt after having gone through so much self imposed physical abuse over the years. I was frustrated that I had given everything to a sport that I loved, but somehow I found myself with nothing more to show for it than medals. I hadn’t established any real financial security for my family and found myself struggling from week to week just to pay the bills, just to buy formula for the new baby, and then the thought of another baby on the way scared me to death. I didn’t like where I was in any of my states: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional. I WASN’T HAPPY!!! Then one day something changed. I got my act together and started thinking right.
I stopped thinking like a loser. I stopped feeling defeated. I stopped letting the world and its outside forces affect the way that I would feel on the inside. I committed to myself and my family and really to everyone that I come into contact in my life that I wasn’t going to have the same losing mindset that I have had. I committed that I would do the things that would help me to feel empowered and feel the way that I want to feel on a regular basis. Does that mean that I still don’t feel negative emotions? Hell no! Negativity and opposition are part of this life. Without the bitter, how can you know the sweet? What has changed is my mindset and my COMMITMENT to success in life. I am committing to having it all in my life. I am committed to having a career I love and providing well for my family. I am committed to having an amazing relationship with my wife and to be more in love with her each and every day, not only through words, but by actions. I am committed to playing with my kids every single day and teaching them, teaching them the things that are going to help them be competitive and successful in this increasingly competitive world. I am committed to connecting with my God every day and drawing from His infinite source of power and energy. I am committed to keeping my body strong and my mind healthy and active. I am committed to succeeding, just like I was committed to being victorious in battle, I am committed to succeeding in life.
After I had made these commitments and started to follow through on them, guess what started to happen? My relationship with my wife got better, my relationship with my kids got better, my relationship with God got better, my exercise habits got better, my financial situation got better. Now just because I say got better does not mean that I have achieved everything that I want and that I am going to stop doing what I have been doing to make improvements. It just means that I am on the right track, and that makes me happy.
Wherever you are or whatever you do, you can do, be, and have it all, if you are willing to commit to it. Make the choice and invest in your relationships and life today. It makes all of the difference in the world.
Yesterday I asked one of the founders of the boot camp that I am attending what are the most important things to do to ensure success in the course that they are providing. His answer didn’t really surprise me, in fact, I could totally relate to the advice that he gave me. “Take advantage of the time with the mentors when they are here. One thing that upsets me is when we have mentors here for students to take advantage of and they don’t use them.” This makes perfect sense to me because I have felt that way with some of my wrestlers. I offer to do one on one drill time with them, however, it is up to them to make the appointment with me. There are few who actually do take me up on the offer all of the time. However, I can guarantee that the athletes that would take me up on the offer every single day would get much better.
Why wouldn’t you want personalized attention from a mentor or a coach, especially if they have already accomplished what it is that you want to accomplish? They have the knowledge, experience, and skill set to take you where you want to go, if you are willing to not only listen, but to act on the direction that they are giving you. It’s not always easy or convenient though. I know all about this first hand. In fact, one of my biggest regrets from my wrestling career is not grabbing a coach every day to help me one on one. I feel like I did a good job of grabbing a coach when I was stuck or when I felt like I needed some extra help, but looking back now, I wish I would have taken every single advantage to learn from them that I could. If I would have, I think that it would have had a positive impact on my wrestling career for sure. So what can I learn from those experiences? I can take advantage of all the people who are trying to help me to get where I want to go. I want to learn to develop, and I am fortunate to have people who are going to be there to walk me through the process. I feel blessed.
What if you don’t have any mentors or coaches that are available for you? What if you aren’t well connected in the area of that thing that you want to get good at. The first thing that you need to do is open your mouth. You would be amazed how many people want to help you if you would be willing to ask. I know that if someone comes up to me and asks for help in wrestling or really any area that I feel like I could help them out in, that I will try to do what I can to help that individual out. So don’t be shy. Get out there and let people know what you are trying to accomplish.
The second thing that you need to do is to show up to those groups or events where like minded people are going to be. If you want to get good at wrestling, you can surely find someone that would be willing to help you at a wrestling tournament. If you are looking for help in your wrestling and you go to an ice-cream shop looking for help, you are going to be extremely disappointed to find out that nobody there can really help you with what you are looking for. However, even in that instance, somebody might know of somebody else who is a wrestler, or they might know how to find a wrestling tournament.
With the age of the internet, there really aren’t any good excuses as to not being able to find someone to help you learn something. The world has become so small and so connected. You can get online and make a face to face call with someone for free! How cool is that?!
So don’t hold yourself back and feel like you have to do everything by yourself. Find yourself a good mentor or a good coach and ask them questions, then make sure that you do what they are telling you to, otherwise you are wasting both their time and yours. Open up, put yourself on the line, and good things will happen. I promise.
Today is my first day of class at Devpoint Labs. I am excited to be with others who are hungry to learn and build things. If you would have told me at the end of 2008 that I would be enrolling into an intensive web development program in the future, I would have told you that you were crazy, but how things have worked out in my life, it doesn’t seem so crazy anymore.
At the end of 2008, I was living in Evanston, Wyoming while working for Redi Services in their Hydrovac division. An acquaintance had gotten me the job after he had told me about the income opportunities that came with working in the oil fields. The work was hard, dirty, and it was all done of very little sleep. The combination of all of those factors made it a dangerous job to be in. I can think of a few times specifically where I was probably very fortunate to have not been injured seriously or perhaps even killed. The lack of sleep was the hardest thing for me to deal with.
When there was a lot of work, my typical daily schedule looked like something like this: 3:30 am wake up, get dressed and eat something really quickly in order to be on the road and make it to the job site ready to start working by 7 am, work all day, make the drive home around 7 pm, get home around 10 pm, eat some dinner and shower, 10:30 pm go to bed and fall asleep in mid conversation with my wife. If there was enough work, I would keep up that schedule 6 days a week. I liked the people that I worked with, I liked the money that I was making at the job, but my life was so out of balance that I was miserable. There were days where I don’t know how I was able to function, and I felt so lost and desperate. Just a few months earlier, I was favored to make the Olympic Team, and now I was cleaning rigs and flow back tanks all day long with no end in site. I began praying for other opportunities to show up in my life, and there was an amazing opportunity that did show up.
One day I was at a power plant cleaning out some of their towers, and I received a phone call from an old friend. I missed his call, but he left a message. I still remember the job. We were at the top of a tower on top of some grates that we needed to clean. We were tied off because we were at least 100 feet up in the air with open grates that you could fall through if not careful or if you slipped. I remember looking down and thinking how bad it would suck to fall down the chamber into whatever sludge was at the bottom. You wouldn’t have a chance to make it out. On my break, I listened to my friends message. He sounded really excited and said that he had a crazy idea. I had no idea what his crazy idea could possibly be. I thought that maybe he would want me to come run a kids club for his sons and teach them how to wrestle. His idea did involve wrestling, but he wasn’t interested in a kids club. He wanted to start a full time training facility for elite athletes, and he wanted me to help him put it all together. I was blown away!
I told my friend, Russell Brunson, that I could start the following Monday if he would like. Instead I went out the following weekend to look at Boise and talk about what the opportunity would look like. A month later, my wife and I had packed all of our things and moved to Boise. It was awesome!
The new job that I had with Russell was one of working in a call center, and I was pretty terrible at it. At the time, I just wasn’t aggressive enough on the phone to get any deals closed. As we got more and more guys to commit to come out to Boise to train and work, he moved us into a new office over at the gym and we started working on SEO for some of his clients. None of us had any idea of what we were doing. It was a very steep learning curve, but we eventually got caught up to speed and were doing some good work. I learned a lot, and I enjoyed the work.
While I was there, I remember seeing his head programmer coding things for him. I had no idea what he was doing, and he was very smart. I was intrigued by his ability to build and do such cool things. I wished that I was able to do the same thing, but I had no idea where to start. I didn’t think about it too much at the time. He had his job and I had mine. That was my first experience being around anybody who could code, and it planted a seed.
Fast forward several years later to last summer. I had started taking some classes at UVU to get into the MBA program. I did a web search to see what type of opportunities could be available in the future with an MBA, and I came across an article that talked about how one man had opted to learn to program as opposed to spending the time in an MBA program. He was also able to learn to code in 9 weeks! I thought that was crazy, but I started looking into different programs that offered these coding bootcamps. The ones that I first came across were located in either Chicago or San Francisco, and I was wondering how in the world I would still be able to keep coaching or stay married for that matter during the course. It would have been a really tough move to come up with the money to make either of those options work.
I kept searching, and I came across some intensive training courses in Utah. The one that most appealed to me was Devpoint Labs in Salt Lake City. They teach Ruby on Rails, and I thought that it would be a great language to learn. I looked more and more into the information they provided, and I eventually applied to their program. I was accepted, and today is my first day of class with them. The course lasts 11 weeks, but they market saying that they can provide people with the skills that they need to program.
I have some great ideas for sites related to wrestling. I can’t wait to build them! Wish me luck. At the very least, I am hoping to be able to give my blog a little facelift by the end of the course. I am grateful to be where I am at, and I am hungry to learn.
This morning I was thinking about what I had to do to get really good at wrestling. There were certain steps that I took in order to become world class. There were things that I had to commit to in order to be the very best that I could possibly be. I started to write down a list of those things that I did that helped me to compete at a very high level. I’m not writing this to puff myself up or sound arrogant, quite the contrary, I am writing this to help others as well as figure out what the process is to get really good at something.
It’s not always easy to quantify or describe the process that is required to get something that you really want. I recognize this a lot as a coach now because there are often times when I am working with an athlete, and I am trying to break down a technique, and they just don’t get it. Most of those times, I have to look at myself and see what step I might be missing to explain to them. You see there were a lot of things that I picked up quickly and understood that nobody really taught me. There were certain positions that I could just feel were right or were wrong. Not everybody has that sense of feeling so you have to break it down as much as you can for them. If you skip a step, then everything else can get thrown off.
You might wonder why I am even asking myself about the learning process that I went through. The answer is because I am trying to learn some new skills. Tomorrow I am starting an intensive 11 week course on web development. I know that web development doesn’t sound like anything related to wrestling at all, but the fact of the matter is that I will need to learn new skills in order to be successful. I am really excited about the class because I have been trying to learn stuff on my own through books and videos, but from my experience I have come to learn that there is nothing quite like the human element when it comes to learning. I had a c# class earlier this year that was driving me nuts. I would stare at the book for an hour straight trying to figure out the assignment, stumped, I would ask my professor or a tutor to help me, and then I would understand it in five minutes. If I could hang out with the professor and tutor all day, I probably would have made much more headway in the course.
Anyway back to the list. The first thing that I came up with on my list is committing to your purpose. If you aren’t one hundred percent committed to what it is that you want to accomplish, you will never be the best. People who are the best at something are people who become committed and obsessed with accomplishing their objective. They don’t give up when someone says that maybe they shouldn’t do that or if someone else makes fun of them for wanting to do something. They don’t give up because it isn’t convenient or if it gets hard. Winning is hard! If it were easy, there wouldn’t be such a big deal made of people when they win. They wouldn’t get lavished with praise, attention, or money in some cases. So if you want to be a winner, you have to be committed.
So how do you stay committed to something? Well that is a whole other subject, but you have to know why you are doing what you are doing. You have to understand why you are willing to hurt, bleed, and suffer when things become difficult. You have to understand why you will give up things that you enjoy doing. You have to understand that in order to fill that deep need of accomplishing what you want that you are going to have to make sacrifices. You have to get uncomfortable, and you have to learn to become comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. In other words, don’t stop just because it hurts. It sounds strange, but from the pain will come the pleasure. If you want to get to paradise, you have to be willing to go through hell.
Tomorrow morning my journey begins, and I couldn’t be more excited for it.
When dealing with things that matter most, success is rarely ever easy or convenient. Think about all of things in your life that are important to you. Is it convenient to strive to improve in those areas of your life? Is is easy to improve in those areas of your life? Let’s look at a couple of examples.
How is your marriage? As a married man with small children, it is not easy or convenient to maintain a marriage let alone strive to have a happy one. Last night I took my wife out on a date to go see a movie. As we were leaving the movie theater, I started to think about how long it had been since we had been out on a date. I immediately thought to a few weeks earlier when we had also gone on a date, and then my mind worked and pushed to try to come up with the previous date that we had been on. My mind was blanking, and then the realization hit me like a ton of bricks! My wife and I had only been on two dates since our baby was born. Our baby is now six months old. How terrible is that? My wife, the mother of my precious children, the woman who puts up with her husband’s low pay and long hours, the woman who let me travel all around the world without complaining about it, the woman who has sacrificed a career to stay home to raise children, the woman who always puts herself last, had only been out on two dates in the last six months. It got me thinking that I need to step up my game.
Obviously I have excuses as to why we hadn’t been on more dates. At first it was, well she just had a baby, then it was I was busy traveling in the middle of wrestling season, and then it was getting a baby sitter is too expensive, and the list goes on. My high school wrestling coach had a saying that he was fond of, “Excuses are like buttholes. Everyone has one and they all stink!” However, all of the excuses just boil down to it’s not easy or convenient to make time to go on a date with my wife. So last night instead of making excuses, I made a resolution. I am making a commitment to myself, a commitment to my wife, a commitment to be a man and take my wife out at least once a week.
Another example where things aren’t easy or convenient is spending time with my kids. Last night before I went on the date with my wife, I played with my kids outside. I know that the act of playing with my kids outside doesn’t sound like a big deal but it was to me. We played all sorts of games with each other, watched birds, looked for ladybugs, played make believe, and had a great time. Again, I started to think about the last time I took my kids outside to play, and it had been quite awhile. Again I have my excuses, our apartment is on the third floor of our building so it takes a little effort to get outside, I have to help clean up the house because my wife is sick and pregnant, I have work to do, I have homework to do, or I have other people’s kids to train. I think that is the toughest one for me to deal with. As I reflect on all of the time that I spend with other people’s kids (whom I love by the way), I realize that I have neglected to spend time with the kids that matter the most, my kids. Everyday I teach kids how to be more athletic, more technical, stronger, faster, etc…, but my kids can’t do basic tumbling that I teach to my wrestlers. It’s a shame. I have to do better. In the end what’s harder, putting in a little extra effort now, or living with regret after the time to act has passed?
If you are seeking greatness, you will never find it while sitting on the couch watching tv. If you are seeking for greatness, you will never find it while staring at Facebook on a tiny screen of your mobile phone. If you are seeking for greatness, you will never find it while you are busy creating excuses and self limiting beliefs. We were all born for greatness, and it is up to every single one of us to reach deep into our soul to discover what our greatness is and can be. But, it will take work! You need to put in the work when you don’t feel like it, when you are tired, when you feel like crap, when you are angry, when you are sad, when things aren’t perfect. Things are rarely if ever perfect so if you continually put off and wait until things are perfect, convenient, and easy, you will never do the thing that you want to do. Do the thing today, even if you suck, just do your best, and tomorrow when you wake up, you won’t regret it.
Wrestling is tough. The training is hard, competition is fierce, and you always have to be willing to embrace the grind if you want to be successful. Wrestlers work on their favorite takedowns, they work on their best moves on top and bottom, they run, they lift weights, they cut weight, they do all sorts of hard things. However important all of this physical training is, one of the most neglected aspects of wrestling is the mental training, yet by neglecting this part of the training, you are leaving yourself vulnerable at the times that the mental toughness is most needed in competition.
First let me get this out of the way by saying that everybody is either nervous, scared, or anxious about competition at some point in their wrestling career. These feelings are useful as long as you learn to harness them and use them to your advantage. What do I mean by this? I mean that your nervous system is telling you that you are going to go do battle with another person and it just wants to make sure that you are ready to do what you need to do. It is the fight or flight response that your body is eliciting. You must be disciplined in choosing which of the two options you are going to choose. Will you fight, or will you run?
I had a process that I would use before every match that helped me, and I think that every elite athlete has their own way of coping with anxiety before competition. For me, I would focus on the smaller things that I could control. Some of the best matches that I wrestled were the ones where I had come up with a strategy and game plan to follow throughout the course of the match instead of just going out on the mat and winging it. If I knew that I had to get to the two on one during the first period and wear my opponent’s arm down, and then in the second period dig hard for underhooks, I could focus on those two actions, and I would score as the opportunities presented themselves. I was able to relax because I knew that I didn’t have to worry about winning the match, I just had to worry about controlling a couple of very specific positions. The winning and losing took care of itself, and I was fortunate enough to have many victories throughout my wrestling career.
Something else that really helped me out a lot was having a mantra or specific list of something to tell myself as I was waiting to be up on the mat. This was especially useful when I was in the hole or on deck. I repeated over and over to myself “I feel strong. I feel confident. I feel ready.” I said this over and over to myself so that I couldn’t let any creeping doubts find their way into my mind because the creeping doubts will always try to find their way in. Even if they do find their way in, you need to make sure that their stay is very short lived. Using this technique of repeating the same thing over and over helped me. Feel free to try it, maybe it could help you.
I had many thoughts and feelings course through me yesterday. I remembered being a little child, and how excited I would be to go with my grandfather to get Slurpees. I also remembered how my grandfather would get a Big Gulp from 7-eleven, and when there was just a little left in the bottom, he would pass the drink to me and say “Kill it.” There were so many thoughts and emotions that swelled within me as I sat in a chair in the hospital waiting room on the neuroscience critical care unit floor that it would take days to document each one.
My grandfather was in the hospital yesterday because he had suffered a stroke the night before. His condition went from bad, to better, to worse. There was nothing that the medical staff could do to really help my grandfather recover from the damage that had been done to his brain. It was hard to see my grandpa in a state like he was, unable to move his limbs, unable to talk or communicate, unable to make people laugh like he does, unable to share the wisdom that he has garnered over the more than 80 years that he lived on this planet. Today is his birthday, and I am sad that he is not with us anymore to celebrate it. He would have been 83 today. He disliked birthdays so much, that perhaps this was his way of avoiding having to celebrate one more.
My grandpa was so much to so many people. He was kind, generous, and also very funny. He was the jokester who always had a new joke to share with everyone at dinner, or he had a funny story that he was able recount at family gatherings. He was obsessed with his health and always had a variety of vitamins that he was taking to keep himself healthy. He exercised and trained his body so that it could hold up under the rigors that he placed on it on a daily basis. He spent most of his days either working on the canal crew where he would help to keep the waterways unblocked and uncluttered with whatever people decided to thoughtlessly toss in. He fished out tires, weed clumps, and even parts of hunting spoils that hunters had discarded into the canal. If he wasn’t working on the canal, he was working at home. He would be hauling hay or moving things with his tractor. One of the things he was most proud of was irrigating his fields. The greener the field, the more proud my grandpa would be of his work.
I remember how much fun I had growing up as a child and playing with my brothers and friends on my grandpa’s property. He had several open fields as well as a large plot of land on a hillside that descended down to a canal. I remember spending hours running outside and playing in the dirt on that hill. Countless dirt clod throwing contests took place, as well as games of Army, and there were even plenty of times that the hill served as a sanctuary and a place to just get away and think. I wonder what my grandpa thought about as he walked all over that hill.
I remember going out to that hill after I received my mission call in the mail. I took the envelope that contained the letter that would tell me where I would be spending the next two years of my life, and I headed out to that hill to be alone. I prayed and told God that wherever he sent me, that I would work my butt off for Him. I opened the letter alone, and after I saw where I was going, I headed back home. On my walk back to my parents house, I came across my grandpa as he was working outside. I told him that I was going to Chile, and he told me congratulations. I told him that he was the first person that I had told so far, and he was happy that I told him. He later helped to pay for my mission. Without his help, maybe I wouldn’t have had that wonderful opportunity to serve.
My grandpa was his grandkids biggest fans. I remember him coming to all of the home wrestling meets that he could, even though he was a much bigger fan of basketball. Whenever I went to watch my younger brother play a basketball game, my grandpa would always be there, even from little league. He taught my younger brother technique on how to shoot a basketball and spent hours playing with him out back on my grandpas homemade basketball court. I can still remember how the rim changed on that court over the years. It started out straight, and as my brothers and I grew and jumped higher, the hoop started to sag more and more from the wear of us trying to dunk a ball or at the least grab the rim.
He loved to give little tidbits of advice whenever he thought it was useful. He gave advice ranging from girls and dating, to work and education. He had learned a lot over the years and he shared what he had learned. Some of the funny pearls of wisdom that my grandpa shared about dating were, “You can just as easily fall in love and marry a rich woman as you can a poor one.” He also said, “Make sure you like your girlfriend’s mom, because there is a good chance that she will be a lot like her when she gets older.” Those are just a few bits of the advice that he would share. Now that he is gone, I wish that would have paid more attention to everything that he said, and even written it down. Most of the time it was pretty funny.
My grandpa loved his family. All three of his children have homes within one house distance of his. My parents live next door to him. My aunt and her family, and my uncle and his family live on the opposite side of his house, but one over. My uncle’s house is in front of my aunt’s. This is a very rare setting for most people. All of them are horse people, meaning that they are involved in some type of event involving horses, whether it be showing reigning horses, barrel riding, roping, or steer wrestling. They all spend time outside, and they all see each other pretty frequently. I am sure that it is going to be hard for them to be out working with the horses out on that field without seeing my grandpa around. I know that I will sure miss him when I go to my parents house to visit.
Grandpa loved to help people. If people asked for help, he didn’t ask them a whole lot of questions, he just helped them. My dad was recently telling me about a time that a man showed up at my grandpa’s house and asked to use his hay elevator. My grandpa didn’t even know the man, but he consented to let the man borrow his hay elevator, a tool that he regularly used and needed. Unfortunately the man never returned his hay elevator, but that didn’t stop my grandpa from lending a hand or lending whatever he could to someone in need. He loved people, and people loved my grandpa. He had a group of friends that he would meet every morning, same time, same place, and they would talk about everything. His friends will miss him. When my grandpa didn’t show up yesterday morning, they all knew something was wrong. They called my aunt and she had to relay the news about my grandpa’s condition.
Yesterday was a hard day for me. I thought that I would be strong enough to follow through on a couple of commitments before we went to the hospital yesterday morning. There was some hope that he would recover and be okay. As I drove to the drill session, I got choked up and couldn’t see well as warm tears clouded my vision. I couldn’t stop thinking about my grandpa and all of the fun times that I had shared with him. I had to turn around and go home. I am so glad that I did. I am glad that I was able to see my grandpa one last time and tell him that I love him and that I appreciate him for all that he has done for me. It hurt to see him in that debilitated conditioning, but I can hear him say, if he were able to, “For hell’s sake! Why is everybody making such a big fuss out of this?” That is just the way he was. I will always love my grandpa, and I am sure that there will be plenty of stories that I will tell to my children as they get a little older. However, I am grateful that my two oldest will at least have some of their own memories of him.
James Ross Parker was a great man, and I am so glad that he is my grandpa. I will miss him so much, but I have a strong hope and belief that I will get to see him again someday. He touched many people’s lives and he will forever hold a special place in their heart. You probably never met him or knew him, and that is why I wanted to write a little bit about him. He did too much throughout his life for his passing to go unnoticed. There are so many great things that he did that this simple blog post does not do justice to the legacy that he has left behind. I will miss him dearly, but I am grateful for the time that I was able to spend with him.
I love you grandpa!