Archive for Thursday, December 22, 2005

Opinion: Committment and sacrifice

December 22, 2005

Anyone who's looking to work off a few holiday pounds this year would do well to get a copy of the Basehor-Linwood High School wrestling team's conditioning program from coach Scott Neil.

After watching just one wrestling practice I can already tell it's something that 90 percent of the U.S. population wouldn't put itself through.

Neil's program contains a few of the old standbys, like sprints, push-ups and sit-ups in rapid succession. But it also includes a whole lot of other exercises designed to make muscles numb and lungs burn.

There's "bear crawls," where a wrestler gets down on all fours and scampers up and down the mat a few times with an arched back.

There's the "military crawl," where the wrestlers lay on their bellies and use only their elbows to propel themselves forward.

Then there's a series of leg lifts that are held past the point that any normal abs could handle.

Watching the Bobcat wrestlers go through all of these exercises one after another until they were all panting, dripping and gasping brought to my mind one word: sacrifice.

These wrestlers are not only sacrificing their time every afternoon, they're also sacrificing their comfort for the next day or so.

These are the type of workouts that you feel for quite awhile.

After 12 surgeries and a whole lot of physical therapy, I'd like to think I know something about pain, and the pain the BLHS wrestlers experience during a typical workout looks very real to me.

It shows quite a passion and commitment to a sport and a school when kids willingly push themselves like this when some of their friends are no doubt spending their afternoons at home playing XBox and eating Doritos. It's something I really admire because its something I could never pull off in high school.

I played soccer in high school and we had some grueling practices, but I was always one of those players who made sure I snuck a little break every now and then during drills when I was pretty sure the coaches weren't looking.

I had some vague idea that this might only be hurting my own chances of getting better, but at the time I guess I just wasn't committed enough to the sport to sacrifice more personal comfort than I absolutely had to. As a result, I never became a very good player, and instead of being a well-paid soccer hero with a Ferrari and a posh Italian villa on the Isle of Capri, I'm now a sportswriter with two roommates and a four-cylinder Toyota.

I didn't push myself in workouts because I had trouble seeing the big picture. True, I probably never would have been a professional athlete, but I could have been a much better high school athlete. I could have represented myself and my school in a way that I could have been much more proud of.

That's the bottom line for the Basehor-Linwood wrestlers.

Every afternoon, they're really working, really sweating and I'm sure there are times when they ask themselves if it's worth the sacrifice. But if they keep at it, a lot of them could end up with a season they'll be proud of the rest of their lives.

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