Thriving in uncharted territory

After having a few months to settle into the new school year, it’s become apparent that the people who had spent the last five years warning me about junior year were, for the most part, right.

Just as they predicted, the expectations of my teachers have never been higher and their assignments have never been more demanding. However, going into the year my main concern was how the looming storm of classwork would affect the already delicate balancing act I have to maintain between my responsibilities in the classroom and everything I want to accomplish outside of it.

What I work on outside of class can be as extensive as what’s going on inside the classroom. I played varsity football in the fall. I run a community service club connected to my work in Rwanda. I write for this column and for one in my school newspaper. I run another club that broadcasts live audio of Brunswick sporting events. Plus I’m in the midst of my first year on the wrestling team.

Seeing as how I wrote most of this column on the bus ride back from a wrestling tournament, I can say with certainty that I’ve managed to stretch myself fairly thin this year. But, that being said, I’ve never been stronger or felt more fulfilled in my entire life.

That feeling of contentment has never felt stronger than it did this weekend after two wins in two matches in my first ever wrestling meet at the Canterbury School in New Milford. I walked out to the mat for my first match that morning bouncing with energy, but uncertain if I could go the distance, and I came off the mat after three hard fought periods, exhausted but victorious by a 9-8 margin.

My next match came about an hour later and, unlike my previous match, where I was up against a wrestler in his first official match as well, I found myself pitted against a wrestler that most of my teammates thought was of varsity caliber. My opponent had me on the mat about 35 seconds into the first round and, with about 15 seconds to go, I was one shoulder away from being pinned. I fought the pin with everything I had and, while the thought of quitting was strong in my mind as my opponent did everything he could to push down my other shoulder and finish the pin, I let the final bell of the first round silence my desire to take the easy way out and bring me to fight another round.

The second round brought me to the mat again, but, as I fought a headlock, I felt an opportunity to get up and I was able to find my feet. My spark of hope was short-lived, however, as he was able to keep his hands my arms, wrench me over his shoulder, and send me flying through the air. I’m not sure if anything went through my mind in that brief moment as I landed face first on the mat; all I could do was to get up and face whatever he came with next.

However, once I found my feet and turned to face my opponent, all I could see was the black shirt of the referee that had stepped between the two of us to whistle the match dead. The flip my opponent had used, while popular in Greco-Roman wrestling, is illegal in high school “folk-style” wrestling and punishable by disqualification. The match was conceded to me; after coming within seconds of defeat against a wrestler I had no business beating, I left the ring with a victory.

The thing about that final match that was truly emblematic of my year so far was not solely in its personal gratification, but the fact that I was able to share it with my teammates, an eclectic group of guys that I hadn’t really known before the season began. I liken sharing my successes on the mats with them to my successes off the mats because both have initiated new friendships with people I would have never known otherwise.

While all the work I’ve put in this year has at times worn on me mentally and thrown me face first into the ground at others, I’ve been rewarded with the fact that I’ve gotten the most out of every day. My perspective on junior year up to this point is that nothing worth having comes easily, and if you put yourself in uncharted territory as often as you can, the benefits will far outweigh the risks.

 

Christopher Lucey is a junior at Brunswick School.

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