It's Never Too Late

February 22, 2024

“Just talked to Dad about joining wrestling this year. There is a meeting on Tuesday.”

This is the text I got from our son, Jack, in October. He is the youngest of three and we are a family that has been involved in a long list of activities over the years. But this was different.

Jack is a senior and had never wrestled.

Before the season began, he looked up YouTube videos on wrestling rules and positions. The practices were hard, even for a kid who loves to challenge himself in the gym. Everything was new. And he loved it.

The next thing I know, my husband and I were in a noisy gym watching this gritty, intense sport. As we cheered for Jack, I often had knots in my stomach, imagining how badly he could get hurt competing against athletes who have been doing this since kindergarten (It got easier as the season moved along). We all learned some powerful lessons along the way that are important both on and off the wrestling mat.

Goals matter. Jack started on the JV team with the goal of moving up to varsity. When he accomplished that goal, he set a new one: Make it to State. And in a double overtime match that had us on the edge of our seats, Jack qualified for the Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament earlier this month. He could hardly believe it.

It’s never too late. At any age, each of us can do hard things we’ve never done before. It requires an openness to learning, humility, courage and some good old-fashioned guts. The pride in simply trying is a confidence booster. Are there times Jack wondered, “What if I had gone out sooner?” Sure. But mostly, his attitude is, “What if I had never even tried?”

Look around and see the potential in others. Jack’s coaches could’ve written him off as a one-season wrestler. Instead, his teammates and coaches invested in him to help him become the best wrestler he could be in a few months. Be the colleague who believes in a teammate and sticks by them as a mentor – you’ll both end up growing as a result.

Cheering on Jack and his teammates at the largest high school athletic event in Iowa is a moment none of us will forget. He wrestled twice at State and was pinned in both matches. The scoreboard didn’t show it, but Jack had already won. 

Blog written by Lauri Freking