11-05-10 GC2TVB1

39.413117 -74.833933

Bret was beat. It had been a long season. The star of the wrestling team was languishing this year. He had grown. The team was not full. He had to wrestle up weight classes. He had to wrestle down. His diet was a weekly yo-yo. Last year’s undefeated season was but a memory.

He had an uneven record this year. He was tired of wrestling the heavyweights . . . the big kid on the other team who couldn’t be moved due to the sheer mass. Who, when he was on top, would just plop down and ride you for three minutes.

Districts were coming up. Bret was less than enthusiastic as he sat dressing himself in the locker room. He was just now asking himself at which weight class he would wrestle in. Who gets to determine that?

A plan was hatched.

It was the first time Bret had smiled since his medal last year.

His teammates noticed. Coach noticed. For the next two weeks, Bret was a different wrestler in practice. There was a fierceness in his approach. No longer did he mope at the different partners he had each practice. Mr. Sneed, the assistant coach stopped to watch from afar when he saw that Bret was on the mat late one Friday with a fat adult. Time and time again, Bret worked his way out from beneath this guy. Each time, he would say, “Again!” Mr. Sneed grinned.

The following Tuesday Coach called Bret into his office.

“I am filling out the roster for Districts. It’s up to you at which weight class you want to wrestle in, Bret.”

“Where do you need me, Coach?”

Saturday evening, Coach had dinner out at Milken’s Steakhouse. He and his wife were joined by Dave Ransom and his wife. Longtime friends, it was the first time they had dined together this year.

“Your team is a little weak in the upper weights, Fred. Why do you have your superstar bouncing around?”

The explanation sparked discussion that went through the balance of the meal. Coach summed it up with, “Wrestling doesn’t build character, Dave. It reveals it.”

The next time these friends saw each other was about a month later. Dave extended his hand at the side of the mat.

“Your boy sure did steal the show here this weekend, Fred.” Bret’s hand was still held up by the referee as the coaches exchanged smiles.

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