Take it to the mat

About a month ago, Jennifer Lynn who is a high school senior surprised us with the news that she wanted to take on a new sport at school. Her decision to participate in a new activity didn’t surprise me – she’s always been adventurous about trying new things which thankfully stay in the realm of constructive endeavors such as badminton, cheerleading, and playing the tuba – while avoiding the kind of adventurous teenage behavior that has the police knocking on your door at 2 a.m.

The part of her announcement that was surprising was that the new sport she was going to participate in was wrestling.

I struggled to make sense of the picture that popped into my mind; a sweaty 17 year-old boy and girl horizontally interlocked with hands in places on each other’s bodies that only should happen after you’re married.

So of course, I wanted her to explain how this boy-girl wrestling thing works. She wasn’t exactly sure but one of her friends had also signed up so she figured that a good portion of the training she would be wrestling another girl.

I had my doubts. But the surprising part was Steve’s reaction. Knowing how protective he is of his daughters, I thought he would certainly object to Jennifer Lynn locking legs with a testosterone fueled teenage boy. Instead, he couldn’t have been happier that she was going to learn how to wrestle because now his precious daughter would know how to defend herself during an encounter that didn’t take place in a controlled environment like a high school gym under the watchful eye of an experienced coach.

Looking at it from his perspective, I had to agree that knowing how to fight off a boy is great skill for a young woman to have. Especially one like Jennifer who craves independence and hopes to land in a college on the other side of the country.

She’s been going to practice now for about five weeks and by her own admission, this is the hardest thing she has ever taken on – sure, those other activities were challenging, but this requires endurance and strength at a level that is totally new to her.

When I asked her if she had known how hard it was going to be, if she would have signed up. I got a definite “maybe.” But I’m proud of her because she says there is no way she’s quitting – if only because she’s told all her friends she’s doing wrestling and having to tell them she stopped would be humiliating.

I also see the pride she feels in herself. She is constantly showing off to us the bruises on her arms and legs and how they exactly match up with the grip that her opponent used. We get a running commentary on the development of her muscle groups so we can appreciate that she now has obvious biceps, abs, and quads.

She even got over the awkwardness of the singlet – the short unitard with the very low scoop neck that is the typical wrestling uniform. We got her a snug black t-shirt to wear underneath it. Glancing over at her standing in front of the mirror, it was obvious that she felt pretty good about her newly toned body.

When she gets a little more confidence, I look forward to going to a match and watching her wrestle a girl or boy. Pin ‘em!

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