Friday, January 30, 2004

(nostalgia) grappling with the past

My recent digression in my high school wrestling career drew inquiries from some readers. Yes, it's true, I was actually co-captain of my team my senior year, which might have meant something if the team hadn't completely sucked. Many professors have stories in their past about other earlier selves that were surprisingly skilled at unexpected pursuits. Not me; I did wrestle, but not in any sense well.

Did I have any particular aptitude for wrestling? No. Did I have any particular love for the sport? Not really. Why did I do it then? Because I went to a rural high school whose idea of adding extracirricular diversity was always to propose adding another sport. No debate, no AP classes, no computer clubs, no tolerance for geekiness of any kind. Since I couldn't play basketball and wasn't in band, it was either wrestling or spend the winter months watching television. Or I could have done auto shop or Future Farmers of America, I suppose.

I can't be sure about my most memorable wrestling match of the top of my head. I did wrestle this dwarf* with braces once, which was a morphologically interesting battle since I was about as tall and skinny as wrestlers get (when I was a freshman, I was 5' 8" and once made weight at 105 pounds). Anyway, I did in fact vanquish the dwarf, albeit in a rather wild match (final score 14-12, or something like that). After the match, the dwarf came up and asked me if I was cut anywhere. I hadn't noticed, but it turned out I was. He was asking because after the match he noticed he had some flesh in his braces, and presumed correctly that it came from me.

Curious stat about me from my senior year of wrestling is that I led the team in only one statistical category: unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, with four. Long story. [Update: I'm not sure that "Unsportsmanlike conduct" is the right phrase for what it was called; it wasn't the serious kind of unsportsmanlike conduct like when somebody bites an opponent or throws their headgear and tips over chairs after losing; it was the lower-level "unnecessary roughness"-type penalty]

* I don't have an official diagnosis that the guy was a dwarf, but he certainly looked like he fit the common conception [especially the common conception of a high-school aged observer] of one.

Update, next day (6:30 AM): A premium subscriber from Starksville, MS writes in: "i never knew you were a wrestler, jeremy. a dirty, unsportsmanlike wrestler at that. this thought immediately brings me back to my first visit to IU when the sosh gang played a "friendly" game of football and jeremy was assigned to cover me. what i didn't know in advance was that jeremy would beat the absolute living crap out of me on that muddy field that day. i assumed that this was some sort of academic hazing ritual that all first years would have to go through at some point."

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