I remember the first year I joined the All Air-Force Wrestling team. Didn’t know that about me? That I once did Olympic style wrestling? Proves that there is a difference between wrestling, and being good at wrestling. Each military branch as a team. As expected in the US military world, if each branch competes in a sport, then each branch will compete with each other. The first Armed Forces Wrestling tournament I went to was in Quantico VA. And I am soaking in all it takes to get ready to represent the Air Force. The intense training. The intense mental prep. The intense stragities. I didn’t get the starting spot on the team, so I supported the team the best way I could. I ate all the food that others couldn’t while they were losing weight. It wasn’t easy to eat meals in-between meals, but I took my role very seriously.

We showed up for the tournament in Virginia and let me tell you, the matches were hard fought. All of the teams had prepared just as much as we did. All trained in different locations, with different plans of attack, and different stragities. After all that prep to challenge each other. After all that focus to prove who was number one. After all that weight I put on to support the team, the most amazing thing happened. We became the USA Armed Forces Wrestling team. We showed up at the National Championship, and Olympic trials, and the Olympics as one team cheering each other on. It wasn’t uncommon to see an Army wrestler on the mat, with someone from the Air Force and Marines and navy in their corner. I didn’t expect that when I joined the team, but I understood the importance of it.

I don’t wrestle any longer. I don’t follow the sport as much as I used to. But I remember being a part of a team that became a part of a bigger cause. I know exactly why that has stuck with me. I never got rid of that weight from the first season. At least I’m warmer in the winter now. 

One thought on “Once, I was an athlete

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