West Point, NY | March 21, 2022
I wanted to share this with you all today. I will have a more thorough recap in the next day or so, and plan to continue to update you guys this spring and summer as we transition to competing in the international styles and program building this thing we call #AmericasTeam
But I wanted to get this to you today. I wrote it for my coaching blog, so some of you may have read it already on social media. It encapsulates my initial thoughts on the trip to Detroit.
I’m thinking about elevators today. I think it is appropriate to be doing so.
It certainly isn’t coincidental that my mind turns to elevators after the NCAA tourney. There is a tried and true metaphor that the over worked brain falls back on after the season ending event at any level. Ups and downs. Roller coaster of emotions. Yada yada. It’s trite, it’s cliché and it’s true. An NCAA season is impossibly long and no one is spared from the requisite highs and lows that come with a veritable marathon. It’s a given.
But that’s not why I’m thinking of elevators.
I got to ride the elevator about 735 times at the hotel this weekend. Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful. Climbing 30 flights of stairs that many times would not have been fun. The last trip up I had the good fortune of being in the elevator with the father of an athlete who had just lost in the NCAA finals an hour or so earlier. It was filled with wrestling people. Everyone in it knew his pain. To a certain extent. Or at least understood it. It could have been awkward. Certainly, it could have been incredibly quiet. He refused to allow it to be so. He engaged the group. Thanked fans and coaches from several different programs for being part of his son’s journey. His positivity was as evident as his heartache. As people got off on their respective floors, you could tell that they were leaving even more in love with the sport of wrestling than they were when we got on together in the hotel lobby.
To me, the ultimate compliment you can pay a person is this- being around them inspires you to be a better human being. It doesn’t happen that often…but when it does- it resonates.
At an event with so much uncertainty the elevator ride is non- negotiable. In a sport with so many factors that are out of your control, your day begins and ends with an elevator ride. Every time you get in to go down, you know you are headed for a ride that could change your life, alter your career. And no matter what happens at the venue that day, you gotta get in for that ride up when it is over. Every time those doors open you are transported to a new place and given a new opportunity. What you do with that opportunity is up to you.
My rides were filled with running into people I hadn’t seen in a while, meeting new people. The elevator at the venue was such a juxtaposition of priorities…..Hall of Fame coaches and soon to be NCAA champs riding with the people who were headed down to stock the hospitality rooms or work the gate. Your credentials, your record…. didn’t get you any extra space. You just stood in your spot and got to where you needed to be.
We wrestling folk do a good job at celebrating the highs. We also embrace the lows, maybe more so than any group of people I have ever met. It’s a source of perverse pride for us. But those are still just the extremes of the journey. I think we would all be a little better off if we paid attention to the ebbs and flows and tuned into the little parts of the trip that get us to those peaks and valleys.
Like the elevator ride.
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Anyway, like I said- much more to come.
Thank you to all of you who have made my first year so meaningful.
We are just getting started.