Coach Stories

My Conviction in this Sport by Charlie Saylor

I was never a champion wrestler.

I never won the state tourney, and I never came home holding a trophy or a bracket. I remember the feeling of elation the first time I placed in the top six in the county---in my 4th year of wrestling. After my last match in my senior year of high school, I walked off the mat, never to compete again for my team. 

And yet, I find myself returning to the sport of wrestling again and again. Nothing has been as formative in my development as a person. I remember the troubled looks I got when eating a bowl of peas for Christmas dinner because of a match I had two days later. When no one would practice with me in the off-season, I drove to the neighboring town and had their state champion lineup beat me up 3 times a week. The lessons I learned about ambition and responsibility stuck with me beyond the stuffy wrestling rooms and bleak gymnasiums.

Apart from the cliché sport development side of the story, what I cherish most about the sport is the connection each wrestler shares. The adrenaline rush of pinning your opponent and the agonizing discomfort of getting pinned are extremes that are unique to wrestling. Only someone who has experienced both can understand what it takes to wrestle, and can share in the religious devotion to the sport.

It’s this connection that fuels my belief in Beat the Streets. A middle schooler from the West side of Providence who grew up speaking English as a second language shares little in common with myself. Once we are practicing on the mat together, wrestling transcends the barriers that would otherwise exist. No sport is as difficult, solitary, and rewarding. This unique combination is what drives my enthusiasm for coaching, and my conviction in wrestling’s ability to cause personal growth.