Find the Best in the Bad

By Clint Koedam, Head Coach, Sergeant Bluff-Luton

The past spring and upcoming summer are no doubt the strangest off-season any of us have ever experienced.  All who love this sport have had their normal turned upside down.  We all feel a certain amount of loss in not being able to watch our kids wrestle and help them work towards accomplishing their dreams.  I guess if there is any solace in all of this, we are all in the same boat.

It didn’t take my family long to figure out that something needed to take the place of the time we would have normally spent in gyms and behind the windshield.  We knew that there was something bigger out there that we had to recognize and take advantage of.  After the initial “this is awesome” phase went away and we realized the quarantine business was here to stay, we took some time to figure out what we needed to do.

I can only hope that we all took some time to reconnect with our families, recharge the batteries, and maybe even finish up some of those honey do’s that have been haunting us for months.  If I had one complaint about this great sport, it is if you aren’t moving forward, someone is coming from behind to catch you!  In a weird way, this quarantine gave everyone a time to let their guard down a bit and just relax.

Our families are the most important aspect of our immediate lives.  God is first, but family is for sure second!  We have all probably been guilty of putting wrestling before both.  We know that this sport requires hours of dedication that doesn’t always fit into the perfect time schedule.  We know that it is almost impossible to replace the missed tournament or practice.  We all feel the guilt when we do choose to miss it and sometimes the guilt even takes the fun out of the function we are supposed to be enjoying.  In a weird sort of way, we probably all needed a guilt free excuse to take it easy.

I was at a wrestling camp with Dave Malecek when he shared a story about the importance of putting family in front.  The moral of the story was he had to decide if he wanted his trophies or his family around his coffin when he dies.  I know that is a bit morbid, but very true!  Our dedication to our sport should not take away the importance of having and giving time to our wives, children, parents, and siblings.  This isn’t to say we aren’t dedicated to our teams.  Rather, we need to be more comfortable simply saying no and prioritizing our off-season to allow time to show those we love how important they are to us.

Another aspect of quarantine that has been a positive is we have had more time to become better coaches.  This may be through checking out technique videos, taking an NWCA course via zoom, or organizing our season calendar.  All we must do is take some of the time we would have spent at an event or practice and dedicate it to some sort of organization or planning for our programs.  If you want to capitalize on getting advice from another coach, now is the time!  If you want to reorganize your master in-season to do list, get it done now.  We can all probably benefit from some revamping of our athlete connection practices finding ways to connect to kids we want on our teams next season.

My final thought on the topic of making the best out of this time in quarantine is we probably all got better at not babysitting our teams.  Our guys have had to think outside the box in order to continue to train.  The wrestlers who really want to be great have had to figure out ways to make themselves better without having a coach pushing them all the time.  Times and kids have changed and I feel it has been good for kids to go old school and problem solve how to train on their own.  We offer so much and structure so many opportunities that our kids are losing the ability to plan on their own and make up their own opportunities to improve.  I am almost positive that those who want to be great in 20-21 haven’t stopped doing things to improve.  Hopefully this newfound way of taking responsibility will transfer to the upcoming season.

I hope that all have been safe and healthy during this time.  Even though it isn’t easy doing our part and it would be way easier to just complain, we can all learn a bit about who we are, who we want to be, and the kids can learn how bad they really want it.  Be safe and we will be back to business as usual soon!