Friday Night Tights – The Mini Bus

It was an overcast Tuesday afternoon as I drove some of the wrestlers to a (semi-optional) summer league wrestling meet at our rival high school after our own summer wrestling camp. Let’s call them School P. I’ve recently learned that I am supposed to despise School P. This is kind of weird for me for two reasons:

  1. I personally know two coaches of our rival team. One of which I had coached with in the past at my high school alma mater.
  2. I haven’t even been at our school for a full calendar year yet. I’m trying to be more involved in the school and community so I can feel a more whole-hearted sense of pride for my new team. I mean, come on, would you expect a newly-signed rookie on the Bears to immediately feel the fire and passion of hating and competing against the Packers?

As we arrive at School P, I let the kids off our school mini bus. Once I turn off the ignition, I hear a constant beeping noise. This is were my eyes widen and I channel my inner Michael Bluth and think, I’ve made a huge mistake. I search around the dash for some sort of off switch. It was a futile attempt. Within seconds, the mini bus’s horn is blaring throughout a parking lot. I could feel the parents, coaches, and their teenage wrestlers, staring at the bus with concern. And, of course, they’ll know the culprit because our freaking school name is sprawled across the bus in bold block letters.

Embarrassment isn’t the word I would describe my feelings in the moment. It was shame. I’m supposed to be the leader; the heart and soul of this team. And I’m running back and forth on a mini-bus trying to figure out how to turn off the alarm.

That bus horn went off for 15 minutes straight until I figured out the crazy combination of buttons and light switches to flip and press before I could turn off the bus without the horn going off. It’s safe to say the Wrestling Riddler got me.

The Summer League Meet

Anyway, during the summer league meet, schools from all around the area bring their teams and just wrestle live with kids from other schools. It’s about 150 wrestlers in total who wrestle simultaneously on 6-8 mats. There is usually a JV pool and a Varsity pool of wrestlers who match up by weight, and they get about 4-6 matches in. It’s a great way for the kids to break the monotony and finally get to beat up on other kids for once besides their own teammates. The kids can use these meets as a measuring stick to see how they are improving compared to the competition they will eventually see in a few months.

It was the second one we went this summer. Last week, we only had 6 wrestlers show up. The kids bought into summer training so much that we more than doubled our participation with 14 this week. And the kids loved every second of the fight.

Standout Wrestlers

In-Tents – I was very impressed with his effort at the meet. Last week, he wrestled five matches in the JV pool and went 3-2. After I talked to the team about having a growth mindset as an athlete this past week, he decided to challenge himself. He came to me and asked, “Hey coach, can I wrestle a few matches in JV then try out Varsity?” This is great to hear from a guy who only has about 1.5 years of wrestling experience.

He did step up to the challenge though. He went 4-0 on JV and 1-1 on Varsity. Even though he lost his last match of the day, he stepped off the mat and yelled,”RAAHHH!” as he went Super Saiyan. Needless to say, I am very proud of him.



Papa Bear – He is slowly developing into the outright best wrestler on the team. I’m trying to create a team identity (because we really didn’t have one before) of us being an aggressive, bruising team that also throws in the legs. I swear every time I saw him wrestle, he was throwing in the boots and choking kids out. He tells me afterwards, “Coach, I think I teched most of my guys.”

I responded, “Ok…you still suck though.” He went 6-0 on the day.


El Jefe Bebe – The Boss Baby strikes back again! Either I have been overlooking his skills, or he’s improving fast. This kid is explosive. He’s getting to the legs of bigger, stronger opponents, then turning the corner on them to get a quick takedown. He’s in the weight room about as much as Kid Hulk. When he’s not wrestling, he steps in and helps coach his teammates. This kid is a natural born leader. I’m getting more and more excited to see how he will perform this upcoming season. He went 4-1 on the day.


Chief – Ok, so we have this kid who comes to our summer camp. He will be a 7th grader next school year. He’s a pretty small kid, but everyone, and I mean everyone, calls him Chief. I know his real name. Others have called him by his real name. But I went away for a few days during our summer camp for a teacher conference in California. When I came back, he had a new nick name. I have no clue where this nickname came from…and at this point I’m too afraid to ask (Cue Chris Pratt meme).

However, Chief is a dedicated wrestler. We showed a knee slide to stand up during camp a few hours before the summer league meet. Chief was the only wrestler to use it to get an escape. And he’s the youngest wrestler at the camp! He has the foot speed of Flash, but the size of Ant-Man…while in the Quantum Realm. And in the sport of wrestling, we can always work with that. He struggled a bit with some of the older wrestlers and went 1-3.

Crazy Quote of the Day

Chief: Is this right coach?

Me: No, you want to stuff his head down and sprawl. Square your hips. Remember with shot defense, you want be D.T.M.

Chief: Right, “Down To the Mat”

Other Young Wrestler: Ohhhh. I thought it meant “Dick To the Mat!”

Yeah, I still like this job 🙂


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