Most wrestlers don’t understand that the season begins all over again this week. Their records all season are really gone. The only thing that matters now is how you do at sectionals and where you place. You see, you could have a perfect undefeated season until this week, but only sectionals and state is what really counts for most people. The tournaments and duals leading up to these next two weeks was just practice. It was time to learn from your mistakes and try and fix those positions that you weren’t good at during the season.
Those individuals who didn’t have a perfect season all year have a chance to redeem themselves during the next two weeks. Some have been beaten by close matches, the flu, illness or just situations they have never been in or fixed. Everyone now has a chance to come back and possibly end the season with a positive note. It’s everyone’s chance to make things right. How you place at sectionals determines who you will wrestle at state and what side of the bracket you will be placed on. It’s not too late for anyone. It’s a new beginning that can change your whole outlook of the season.
Wrestlers who are supposed to lose will win, and some wrestlers predicted to win will fall. This is just part of how things happen in the wrestling world. The question is what can wrestlers do this week to get ready and be prepared? Well, it’s all about sharpening up those positions that you’re great at and trying to fix the mistakes that are causing you problems. You must be consistent and drill on those things and not question your coaches right now. Drill, drill and drill some more on what makes a difference. You must have a strategy and a mind-set of believing that anything is possible.
Remember a lot will happen that is unexpected. Some wrestlers have quit, gotten hurt or have left their teams for personal reasons. You see, no one knows who will show up or how they have prepared for the last two weeks of the season. Believe me, I know not every team is focused on winning the state tournament, but you must stay focused like this has been the goal all year. It’s those individuals that are able to keep a “Winning Attitude” through the last couple of practices that will really make the difference in your efforts in accomplishing the goal of either placing or winning a state championship.
Be a good leader the last couple of practices for your coaches. They need your support right now because they are also stressed out. They have to make sure that all your records and weigh-ins are correct. They must prepare for all of you to get to the meets, the food you will eat and where you will sleep. Just imagine, this is just added to the other issues he must still deal with. He still has to deal with teaching, teachers, parents and administration on top of all his other duties. It’s not an easy task for your coaches to keep EVERY wrestler focused because of different personalities and goals that you have set for yourselves. Believe me, there are a lot more things that he must worry about, but these are just a few that I wanted you to understand.
The question is how can YOU help out your coaches in these last trying days of the season? The first thing you can do as an athlete is make sure you have all your work done in your classes. He shouldn’t have to worry about you being eligible. It’s is very important that you talk to your teachers and make sure all is good. Stay driven and focused and don’t allow your grades to fall as these two weeks are very important. As a former coach and wrestler, I have seen great wrestlers not make the state meet because of grades or issues that could have been avoided. Secondly, be positive in the wresting room and have a great attitude. “Everyone wants to be a champion, but not everyone is willing to pay the price.” It’s important for you to understand that not every one of your teammates want to put in work that you might want to put in. You see, every wrestler is different. Some of you have wrestled year round and others have just wrestled during the regular season. You must keep things in perspective at this point in the season. Some work harder than others and might not understand what it takes to get to the next level. Once again, I’m not talking about all programs out there. There are some programs that have been driven to win since day one. It’s a year round process for some, but not for all. You must do your part to reach your goals at this point. Only you, your parents and coach know what you have gone through to get to this point. Thirdly, it’s important that you have a plan of how to cut the weight right and not do anything out of the ordinary that could jeopardize you or your team’s effort to win the state title. Don’t starve yourself or do anything that would put you in a weakened state these last two weeks.
I have some advice for the teams looking to win it all. Work together and stay positive every day. Don’t allow one of your teammates to have a bad practice. You must work together to make the dream become reality. Your coaches already have enough on their plate and don’t need added stress of keeping all of you up and driven. He will run the practices and give you the positive feedback you will need to get through the last few days. You must ask yourself the question of what is worse, the pain of discipline or the pain of regret? Believe me, you don’t want to regret anything that you do.
I give this advice to help you reach the ultimate goal of success within the next two weeks. I have been fortunate to win more than I have lost in my life. I want to give you what I have learned from my wrestling and coaching experience of over 40 years. Some of you will listen and others will just say yea, right! It’s those individuals who really look at what I have written and realize that you must sacrifice to get what you want in life. Success doesn’t come easy. If it was easy, everyone would be a state champion, right?
Final thought. When you get home every day, tell your mother and father that you love them and thank them for all they do for you. Life is way too short! Good luck to all the wrestlers and coaches in the next two weeks. Let the tournaments begin.
About Sammy— Sammy was a very successful wrestler during his high school career. He was a four time state champion, a national freestyle champion his freshman year and ended up holding seven state records before he left Peoria High School. He only lost 5 matches during his high school career and left with a 125-5-1 record. His academic, community involvement and athletic success landed him on the front cover of the Wheaties cereal box (Breakfast of Champions). He was the first wrestler to ever appear on the Wheaties box until Cael Sanderson from Iowa State appeared his senior year. They are the only wrestlers to ever appear on the box as of yet. He is also one of the first 4-time high school state champions in the United States to coach 4 consecutive state championship teams as a coach.
Currently— He is currently a wrestling consultant for schools in Arizona. He gives private wrestling camps called “Winning Attitude” to those coaches that are serious about winning with takedowns. He feels that this is his greatest strength and now wants to share with Arizona coaches and wrestlers. He remains involved with mentoring future coaches and wrestlers today. He volunteers his time at certain schools that need help, specifically with takedowns. He continues to promote wrestling through his motivational speeches to schools and students around the state speaking about what it takes to be successful in sports and in the classroom. He is currently an assistant principal in the Peoria Unified School District. He donates his time helping coaches and wrestlers reach their highest potential in the sport of wrestling. He gives credit to Mr. Michael Koury (his mentor) for molding his beliefs and attitude about hard work and determination. Thankful for his guidance and 1000’s of hours, he believes that he wouldn’t be as successful today as he is. He shares this advice because he doesn’t want to go to his grave without sharing his knowledge that was handed down to him from one of the best coaches in the state.
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