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I came home from the state wrestling tournament in a blizzard over Wolf Creek Pass, with the windows rolled down.
The three teenage boys in the far back seat were making horrible smells and singing western songs at the top of their lungs.
Even with all of that, believe me, the ride home was a piece of cake compared to watching the wrestling tournament in Denver.
My son-in-law told me several times, “Remember it is state. State is not for the weak and faint at heart.”
Well, the Mama Bear came out of hibernation.
I was watching My Precious wrestle on the mat. The score was within one point. Some lady three seats down stood up in front of me and blocked my view.
I yelled at the top of my voice, “Sit down in front.”
She didn’t hear me. She adjusted herself, smiled and looked at her friend in the next seat and started talking again.
I came unglued. I yelled again, she looked at me, found her seat quickly, and sat down.
My boy was seconds from winning or losing. Apparently she wasn’t there for My Precious.
That’s how it was the whole weekend at the state wrestling tournament. There was no mercy in me for anyone playing rough with our boys. I wanted to blow the whistle on a guy who was playing dirty. I would have blackballed him for life. I wanted to beat up someone. I wanted to talk trash.
I didn’t, I restrained myself. I did yell at the referee for calling a stall on my grandson. I didn’t see him stalling. That one point cost him a match.
Not only was the adrenaline pumping in the veins of the wrestlers, I was feeling every hit, too. Yes, at the end of the evening I felt like I had wrestled the big guy and I deserved a T-shirt with my name printed on the back, alongside our five guys and their coaches.
Wrestling is a very emotional sport. At the end of regionals, I saw coaches cry. The boys came off the mat so high on adrenaline they were doing backflips. It was at regionals my sweet grandson separated his shoulder. He had five days to recover before state.
At one of the matches during a wrestling tournament in Monte Vista, I heard a mother yell, “He’s a beast.”
She was talking about my grandson. He was winning. I wondered why she was so upset.
I didn’t feel the pain until it happened to me.
I felt the pain at state. My Precious held his arm to his side, fought his opponent and won with one arm. By the next match, the boy went for the arm and pulled it out and held it until I had to turn my head.
I was screaming, “Don’t hurt him.”
My son-in-law said to me, “It’s state. They are the best, and they come to win, no matter what it takes.”
I argued, “Well, I’m sure the coach told him to go for the arm.”
“Those boys don’t need to be told; they see a hurt arm, and they go for it.”
“Now I understand why Rocky’s girlfriend wouldn’t go to his fights. She couldn’t watch Rocky get beat up.”
My son-in-law, the voice of reason, said it this way: “These boys have been groomed for years to win. They didn’t just start this season. It’s like this: When I was in the service, they said, ‘If you want to be an admiral, it starts now, when you join up. You are going to take advantage, do whatever it takes, you won’t care if anyone likes you, and you will fight now to be number one.’
“The boys who are serious about winning state next year have already started thinking and working out for it. They aren’t going to wait until wrestling season to start. It depends on how much they want it; if they are willing to pay the price to be number one, it starts now.”
I was proud of our five guys who went to state. They wrestled their hearts out. Our boys are already talking about next year.
My heart was fluttering when My Precious said after the match, “Grandma, I want you to sit where I can see you next year.”
I told him, “I’ll be there front and center. I’m gearing up now. I wouldn’t miss it for anything, even if I have to wear blinders. I’m in it for the long haul.”
Final brushstroke: It’s still winter, but watch out for Mama Bear. If you mess with her cub, you’re asking for trouble, and you’re going to have to answer to her.
“ Life is like photography. You use the negatives to develop.” — Unknown