Sunday, November 17, 2019

Why Not Me?

Why not me? 

Thats what you need to ask yourself everyday. Why can’t I be the greatest? Every sport has a champion. The Olympics doesn’t leave the gold medal undecided. They don’t have the Super Bowl without determining a winner. One person will be regarded as the greatest. The greatest that day. The greatest that year. The greatest of all time. Why not you?

When I used to coach wrestling teams, we would go up against a team of hammers, warriors, monsters. Call them what you want. We would lose and sometimes lose badly. The kids would say, “Coach there’s no way I can win. That kid is the best in the country.” So I looked at them and would say, “Why can’t others fear you? Why do you have to stand here intimidated and nervous? Right now ask yourself. ‘Why not me?’ Why isn’t today the day you become great?” I would ask those boys, “Do you not deserve it? Have you not worked hard enough? Have you not led by example? Have you not visualized and dreamed of being the best in your weight or a tournament or the world?” Don’t justify why you can’t do something. Explain to anyone that will listen why you can. You can be the most confident person in the world, but if you doubt yourself, even for one second, it could cost you everything. 

I started wrestling when I was nine years old. There was no beginner or novice division. I was thrown in the mix with kids that had been wrestling since they were five years old. I lost and lost bad. I don’t think I won a match my first year, and I think I got pinned or beat badly just about every match. People wondered, “Why does he do it to himself? Why does he put himself out there to be punished and beat up and embarrassed week after week?” Countless coaches and parents would pat me on the back and say, “Maybe wrestling is just not your sport.” I would stand there and respectfully listen and as I walked away, I didn’t realize it then but I was already asking myself, “Why not me?” Those kids were bigger and faster and stronger. They were more athletic and more experienced. But I didn’t care. I just knew that one day I would be a champion. 

So I grew and I out-worked everyone I wrestled during and outside the season. I perfected my technique. I lifted weights and ran. I pushed myself to the limit. The entire time thinking, “Why not me? Those kids wake up and go to school just like me. They put in extra work just like me. They train relentlessly year round just like me. They do their homework and clean their room just like me. So I thought if only one of us was going to be a HS state champ one day. Why not me?”

I would warm up for 45 minutes before a match. Partly to get my muscles ready for battle but mainly to get my mind ready for “war”. I would recite in my head every minute leading up to the start of the match reasons why I deserved to win and reasons the winner should be me. I would list everything I had done in preparation for that opponent. For example, I ran every morning before school for the past six months. Why not me? I stayed after practice 30 min each day perfecting my technique. I lifted three times a week for the past year. I wrestled four days a week even in the off season. I was telling myself that not only could I win but I deserved to win. I had done more then all my opponents to make sure I was at my best. So, why not me?

Other wrestlers’ mindset are different. Before a big match they would be thinking, “This kid is undefeated. My opponent beat two kids that I lost to already this year. I skipped a month of practice in the summer because I was lazy and he hasn’t stopped training since the end of last year. He is stronger then me. He has better coaching. He has more big match experience.” Time and again he would fill his head with doubt and by the start of he match he was already defeated. Maybe not right away, but you knew it was only a matter of time until he lost. 

They lost those matches on their own before the whistle ever blew. If you think you can’t, you won’t. If you think you didn’t do enough, you’re probably right. If you think he deserves it more, he probably does. And even on the off chance none of these statements are factually true, this wrestler made them true in his mind, and they became reality each and every time. 

So block out the nerves, the doubt, the worry. Be confident and fill your head with reasons you should be a champion. Most importantly remember to ask yourself…

“Why not me?”

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