My Son; the High School Wrestler

Matthew Sparks

My son, Matthew Sparks

I’m very proud of my oldest son, Matthew.  He has been on the Boone High School wrestling team for two years now.  He started in 9th grade, not even understanding the basic concepts of wrestling.  It was a sport I never participated in so I couldn’t help him, even if I hadn’t been stricken by cancer and fighting my battle at the time.  He made up his mind that he wanted to wrestle and he did it.  His first year, he didn’t win a single match.  He showed up to every practice (even the weekend ones), he stayed late, he asked questions – but he never won.  At the end of the season, although he hadn’t won a single match, he was awarded “Most Dedicated” at their award ceremony and some of the more veteran wrestlers were exhorted to emulate Mathew’s example.

This year he had a slow start.  He made Varsity more often this season, which meant he was wrestling more seasoned opponents in most matches.  He wasn’t winning – but he still refused to give up.  Then, a few weeks ago, something happened.  He won.  Carey and I had decided not to go to this particular match  because he said he was more nervous with us around.  He was right, apparently.  He called me, breathless from his match, and told me he had won his first match!  His team was so excited for him that they picked him up and carried him off the mat.  They know how dedicated he is and how hard he works – and it finally paid off.

I won’t lie; I had tears on my cheeks when he called me.   I was so proud that he had finally won a match.  I was more touched, though, that he picked up the phone and called me immediately – even as his team was still high-fiving him.  It’s moments like this that make being a Dad worth it.  Countless hours of listening to him regale me with tales of his practices, late night discussions about wrestling, giving him advice on persistence and perseverance when he was down, numerous times driving all over creation to get him to a match or to practice, a multitude of broken hearts as I watched him try – and not succeed – all worth it because it paid off for him and because I was the first person he called.   He couldn’t wait to call Dad.

Matthew Wrestling

Matthew Wrestling

Then, last weekend, he had a tournament where he won 3 our of four of his matches!  He took 2nd place in his weight division!  He lost in the last bout to the champ, but he was so happy.  To win three matches in a row is amazing for Matthew.

Last night, he had another tournament.  He won again!  Carey captured his match on video and I have posted it here.  I took pictures and have posted them here as well.  Please look/watch.  I am so proud of my son – he has shown the heart and spirit of a winner.  He never gives up – he is never negative – he is a positive influence on his team and his family.

Last night, he almost didn’t make the weight class for 127lbs.  When he first weighed in he was 129 pounds.  He told me that he took a page out of the movie Vision Quest and ran around outside to sweat off some weight.  He also, to make the weight, completely stripped down for the weigh-in.  He didn’t want the extra few ounces his underwear put on him.  It was a good move I suspect – he made the weight with less than an ounce to spare.

It has taken him two years to reach this point, but he has done it.  Bigger and greater challenges await him, but I know he will be up to the challenge.  He has the heart of a lion.  I find it amazing that the can stand the “confinement” of wrestling; when he was a small child he would completely panic if anyone laid on him or restricted his movements in any way.

I love my son, the high school wrestler.  He is awesome.

MAtthew - winner!

Matthew - winner!

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