Shooting for success


Wrestling teaches athletes how to overcome obstacles and that success is earned through hard work and determination. For Etowah wrestlers, on the mat, everything is done with the purpose of perfecting their techniques. Off the mat, having great nutrition and recovery is their main focus. 

“All of wrestling is character because you cannot hide, it is you versus somebody else. There are no other players or people or coaches you can point the finger at and blame or make excuses, it is the ultimate mirror concept,” Casey Wingard, head wrestling coach, said. 

At the start of the season, Wingard was eager to learn who on the team would be the strongest, or rather, the most determined, and who would push themselves to the limit. Wrestling is not all about physical power, it also includes the level of effort an athlete is willing to put forth into the sport. Wingard does not cut anyone from the team, but the individual must learn whether wrestling is the right sport for them on their own. 

“I look for the most determined. Strength does not have anything to do with wrestling. It is about strength and technique combined,” Wingard, said. 

All high school sports push athletes to their max, but few have the same mental and physical strains as wrestling. Not only does a typical practice often push members to the point of pure exhaustion, but no other requires its participants to be at or under a certain weight in order to compete. Wrestlers have to track their weight and compete with their best effort in order to succeed. The biggest challenge wrestlers face is having the right mentality to compete match after match.  

“[Wrestling] is a life sport. It is an everyday thing. Watching what you eat and your weight,” Kelvin Reyes, senior, said. 

Although a wrestler stands on the mat by themselves, they are surrounded by teammates and coaches cheering them on. The sport is a team effort; the fear of letting down one’s teammates is as equally motivating as the desire to win. When one finally stands on the cold mat with a beam of light shining down, all the hours of preparation are put to the test. The adrenaline rush from a win, and the applause that comes once a wrestler pins their opponent are what helps keep athletes going. 

“Every single practice I come with the mindset that nobody is going to outwork me, and I have reached most of my goals, and I will reach all of my goals,” Callie Payton, junior, said. 

Wrestling is a sport that motivates young men and women on and off the mat to become the best that they can be. It builds strong character by teaching athletes how to handle their emotions, respecting authority, and the importance of being a good teammate. Their hard work is all worth it when the referee blows the whistle, their hand raised, indicating another win for the record.