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He’ll Be Wrestling With That Lesson For A While

, , , , , , | Learning | December 11, 2021

Just out of college, I took a job teaching high school and served as assistant wrestling coach for a couple of years. For some reason, we got more than our share of students with “questionable” decision-making skills.

We were hosting a tri-match. For those unfamiliar, three teams compete in three sessions to produce three separate team results. In the first match, the wrestler from Team 1 competes against his counterpart from Team 2, in the next, it’s 1 versus 3, then 2 versus 3, and then it repeats. The second round starts off with 1 versus 3, then 2 versus 3, then 1 versus 2, etc., until everyone has wrestled twice. Obviously, some wrestlers compete in consecutive rounds while some get the middle round off.

We were about to start the second round when we noticed that the boy scheduled for the third match, who had already had a tough bout in round one, wasn’t present. I found him in the locker room, just finishing wolfing down a sub sandwich. This was not one of the ones you get from a well-known national sandwich chain; rather this was from a local shop that made large, heavy, greasy products. When I yelled at him, he responded:

Boy: “But Coach, I was hungry!”

I dragged him back to the gym and let the coach know what was up. He just shook his head and told the gourmand to get ready. I didn’t think anything of it when he went over to the other coach and spoke briefly.

Two matches later, it was time for our hero to take the mat. Having already competed for six hard minutes, with insufficient warmup, a stomach full of heavy food, and a REALLY strong opponent, the inevitable happened. Forty-eight seconds into the second period, the sandwich made its technicolor reappearance. It was obvious he had barely masticated it as we could identify individual components.

During the break for cleaning the mat (and forfeiting the match), the coach turned to the squad and pointed out that one should not eat right before wrestling. Fifteen minutes later, the meet continued.

After everything was wrapped up and the coach and I were walking out, I asked him if he’d told the other team’s coach about our wrestler’s condition.

Coach: *Smiling* “That would be unethical.”

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