''In all honesty, I can't believe I am about to type this note and defend my 13 year old son on a public forum. But until adults start acting like adults, I feel I have to defend my child.
Let me start with a little history about him. He started wrestling at the age of 5 after attending a camp ran by high school kids and coaches at HS ‘’A’’ when he was in preschool. For approximately 2 years we took him around to local tournaments and let him learn moves taught to him by high school wrestlers in the HS ‘’A’’ school corporation. Anyone who has any KNOWLEDGE of the sport of wrestling knows that a 5 year old 40 pound little boy is not going to gain a lot wrestling 150 pound high school wrestlers. After taking him around to tournaments every weekend for 2 years, we started asking questions and looking for youth programs in our area to get him involved with. We got involved with Coach Brad Harper who was the high school coach at Benton Central at the time and enjoyed our first experience as part of a youth wrestling club. Coach Harper to this day has probably made more of an influence on my son than any other male outside of our family. He is a class act individual who will always be special to our family and who will always have a special relationship with my son. Coach Harper then accepted a position at Penn High School in Mishawaka, which is the 2nd largest school in Indiana and has one of the top high school programs in the state of Indiana. After driving our son to Mishawaka 2 times a week for 2 years, we decided we needed to explore some other options closer to home that would provide him some great workout partners as well as teaching him the skills and techniques he would need to one day be a successful HIGH SCHOOL wrestler. Having attended some of the Purdue wrestling camps, my husband reached out to Purdue Coach Scott Hinkle. We were put in contact with one of the wrestlers, Logan Brown who worked out and provided my son one on one lessons and helped him develop an actual "shot" which he had never had before, but Logan was a 190 pound collegiate wrestler. Not too fair for a now 60 pound little guy to drill against him every week.
Fast forward to April of 2011. Indianamat message board is posting for an open position on their elementary duals team who is planning on traveling to Kingsport, TN to compete in the AAU National Duals Team Championship and our son just happens to be at the weight they are looking for. My husband inquires and our son is now a member of Avon Elite's National Duals Team for the tournament. We went down there knowing that he would get pummeled, but it was something he wanted to do and would provide him an opportunity to see what wrestling at the national level was all about. I don't remember his exact record, I think he won one match the entire tournament, but that opportunity fueled something in my son that he still has today. He made the commitment to do WHATEVER it took to become a better wrestler. He has been wrestling nonstop now since April.
Now although he is only 13 years old, he is really not your average 13 year old, sixth grader. He is driven and has goals that most don't set until they are juniors and seniors in high school. He knows what he wants and knows what it takes to be a better than average high school wrestler. His biggest goal in life is not becoming a 7 time Conference ‘’C’’ Champion, or a Sectional Champion. His goal is to wrestle at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse and not only wrestle, but to stand on the podium...and not just his senior year. He wants to wrestle in college one day. He doesn't just talk about it; he practices this every day of his life. If it’s not on the mat, its watching wrestling- and not just locally. He watches the best kids in the state every weekend and learns something every weekend. Every day he watches what he puts into his body so that he is at weight for the next tournament. He travels to the Southside of Indianapolis 2 times a week - a two hour+ trip 1 way so that he can receive instruction from one of the elite coaches not only in the state, but in the Midwest. He gets his butt kicked by triple crown winners (for those of you who don't know what a triple crown winner is, it is a wrestler who has won Folkstyle, Freestyle and GrecoRoman state titles all in the same year). These are kids that are known nationally and who win at the national level. He works out in a room that is full of the best kids in the state. Is my kid one of those, absolutely not, but he is making progress every single practice. We take him near and far in state and out of state any and every chance we get to help him reach his goals and to help him become a better wrestler. It is something our entire family does and loves. He keeps up with his school work, he has to or he wouldn't be allowed to wrestle. He misses things that normal, everyday 13 year old boys do because he chooses to wrestle.
From the stands, it’s easy to hate on a kid who is successful because all you see is the 6 minutes that he wrestles. You don't see what he does the other hours of the day. You don't see the hard work, sweat and sacrifice he puts into this sport all the other days of the week. It’s easy to hate on a kid who went to school ‘’A’’ from preschool-3rd grade and then returned during his 5th grade year bc of things you've "heard" or because someone who thought they knew our family said "the only reason he went back to school ‘’A’’ was so he could wrestle at Middle School Conference as a fifth grader". Total BS! HE chose to go back to school ‘’A’’ because that’s where HIS friends were. That's where we knew people would be looking out for him. That’s where the HS coach wants to see him SUCCEED and not fail. That's where our teachers are now his teachers. That's where HE wants to be! Yet only a few people have ever had the decency to ask US why he is at school ‘’A’’ while his sisters still go to school ‘’B’’. I think if any of you really know my husband & I, we are 100% honest and open about our kids when people ask. Do we offer information, usually not unless we are asked.
So why am I posting this note?
Because as a mother, I am tired of all the things "other people" are saying about a 13 year old boy. I think anyone who really truly knows my son knows that he is probably one of the most likeable, big hearted, outgoing kids you would ever meet. But many of you just see him on the mat and that’s all you know of him. You don't know him outside of the sport of wrestling. You don't know that he loves his family and will defend them to his grave if he needs to. You don't see him working in the garage, cutting wood with his 70 some year old great grandfather who happens to also be his best friend. You don't see him helping his 92 year old great grandmother who suffers from dementia and doesn't know his name 90% of the time. You don't know the boy who cried his eyes out when he heard that his Grandpa Max's bone cancer has become aggressive and they are stopping his treatment on top of seeing him suffer daily with Alzheimer’s disease. You don't see him at practice or meets carrying around the little 5 year old boys on his back that look up to him. You don't see him leading MS practice, teaching his fellow teammates moves to help them become better wrestlers. You don't see the work he does from 6:30-8:00 twice a week in Indianapolis. You didn't see him breaking up a fight between a bully and an innocent young man on the playground that one day did you? You didn't hear the conversation between his principal and him about how he is a leader at his school and how others respect him and asked him to watch out for others that may be getting bullied. You don't see any of that. All you see is a young man who has yet to lose a MS match in 2 years, who just so happens to be wearing a royal blue Team Indiana singlet instead of a school ‘’A’’ singlet (because they didn't have enough for all the MS team members), who prepares himself mentally differently than your average MS wrestler, who is successful at school ‘’A’’ but that isn't his only goal in life. I have not said anywhere in this post that my child is perfect, he is far from it. I haven't said that his attitude is always what it should be; it’s far from where we want it to be. I have never said that he is a great wrestler, he is a good conference ‘’C’’ wrestler as a middle schooler. Being good in conference ‘’C’’ is totally different than being a state placer in the state of Indiana. Unfortunately, many people don't understand that. They think that kids who wrestle only during the wrestling season will make it to state and place one day. Unfortunately, that’s not the case 99% of the time. I see what kids do year around to compete at the next level. For many people it’s easy to hate on a kid who is successful at a sport without knowing what all is involved behind the scenes. I hope that for many of you who have hated a person based on success that you stop and realize that for most it’s not just a god given talent, it’s something that is a 365 day commitment. But most importantly before you go hating on a 13 year old young man, I hope you realize that he has a heart....and ears. And that you also realize he is the son to someone, a brother to someone and a human being who has feelings...and he is only 13.''