The Grind Never Sleeps

The Leesville wrestling team after a conference win over Cardinal Gibbons at Leesville. The close match and hard fought victory are attributed to Leesville’s endurance and grit. (Photo used by permission of Tracey Polansky)

You are in overtime, in a wrestling match that could qualify you for the individual state tournament. Your entire high school athletics career has been building up to this single moment–the last four years of your life hinge on what you do right now. Down by one, and more than a bit beaten down, you need only score once more to achieve your dreams. You take the shot, and score.

You’ve outworked your opponent and won just like the coach always knew you could.

What wins the tough matches and makes the athlete isn’t so much the talent, but the drive. The late nights and early mornings devoted to training and nothing but an iron will and unbreakable drive–thats what makes the athlete.

Early mornings are precisely the tool utilized by the Leesville wrestling team to hone this drive in its athletes. On both Monday and Friday mornings (and sometimes others), Leesville wrestlers head to school for practice at 5:30 am sharp.

If you were to watch one of these practices at the start of the season, you would likely see the expected: a group of tired, bleary eyed kids. They perform well but not amazingly. They work hard, but they lack motivation.

As time goes on, however, something miraculous happens. Those tired kids from earlier begin to thrive in this early morning environment. Decent performances become wild success stories, those tired kids create fierce competition with one another, and every single athlete learns to embrace the endless grind.

Morning workouts teach the values athletes need to be successful in their athletic careers as well as everyday lives. When faced with a challenge, it is the extra work that truly differentiates the champions from everyone else.

“There’s nothing but benefits–you can see that when we compete,” said Jason Wyss, the Leesville wrestling coach. “We are mentally and physically stronger than our opponents for it, and that’s why you don’t ever really see us wilt in matches.”

The Leesville wrestling team began consistent morning workouts several years ago, and since have seen wild successes–three (soon to be four) consecutive conference titles, a multitude of state qualifiers, and generally high overall rankings. While attributing these successes to morning workouts alone is both unfair and untrue, it is safe to say they are certainly a contributing factor. The significance of unyielding grit trained into each wrestlers mind cannot be overstated.

Personally, I attribute much of my individual success to our morning workouts. They are a contributing factor in my success as both an athlete and a student — and I genuinely believe that the values instilled in me through these workouts will stick with me throughout life. When the going gets tough, we train to be tougher.

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